In less than a week, on Monday 11 October, it is finally time to welcome everyone to the 27th ITS World Congress. The Congress brings a piece of the future to current times and throughout the week, participants will have the opportunity to experience many different dimensions to what smarter, cleaner and greener mobility looks like.  In the meantime, Hamburger Abendblatt, official Media Partner of the ITS World Congress conducted an interview with Jacob Bangsgaard, CEO of ERTICO – ITS Europe, and Harry Evers, Managing Director of ITS Hamburg 2021 GmbH.

What league is Hamburg in when it comes to mobility and new transport projects?

The Hanseatic City of Hamburg is a central logistics hub in Europe and beyond. Future mobility is not just a vision in Hamburg, it is also in line with the city’s ITS strategy with more than 35 projects already exploring the potential of digital trends for the transport industry. “If we are comparing our World Congress with earlier events in other cities, Hamburg is definitely playing in the Champions League,” says Harry Evers. “Looking at Hamburg with its port, its hinterland connections and the entire transport environment, this is really meaningful.”

Jacob Bangsgaard adds, “Given the incredible ITS developments that are taking place in the city thanks to their long-term strategic plan on mobility, Hamburg was a clear candidate to host the ITS World Congress. Our aim with the ITS Congresses is to showcase innovative mobility concepts and reveal how they can be brought to reality, and in this regard, Hamburg is a prime example: The city offers a unique, modern perspective on ITS that should be shared with the world and Hamburg attracts many local and international companies that use the city as a testbed for state-of-the-art solutions and innovative technologies – all of which will be showcased at the ITS World Congress.”

Thanks to its outstanding infrastructure, qualified specialists, innovative companies, and research institutes, known for their cutting-edge research, the city’s innovation continues to grow. “Other cities are in top positions for their individual mobility projects. All former host cities have come up with individual projects, like Copenhagen with cycle traffic. Hamburg sticks out with its broad range of innovations in mobility,” says Harry Evers. “The Hanseatic city is a real-life laboratory for innovative mobility ideas and has been selected by the industry association Bitkom as the clear frontrunner when it comes to smart mobility.”

What do you want to show the visitors to the World Congress of the city?

“We have focused our program strongly on experience. It’s less about introducing innovative projects that will become reality in 10 or 20 years and more about today: we have developed demo tours through the city on which industry specialists can properly see innovative projects,” comments Harry Evers. “On Thursday, 14 October, we will open the World Congress for all residents of the metropolitan region of Hamburg who can then go on the tours and get to know the projects.”

The ITS World Congress allows participants to discover the latest smart mobility solutions from top mobility experts, CEOs, CTOs and key decision-makers that shape the future of ITS. “The City of Hamburg has already broken ground on several smart mobility projects, while others are currently being developed,” says Jacob Bangsgaard. “In Hamburg there will be many innovative demonstrations and tours where people will actually be able to ‘Experience Future Mobility Now’ throughout the city – ultimately, we want to show what a smart city looks like in 2021 and what can already be achieved.”

How many projects are we talking about?

Harry Evers summarises that “There are around 90 demonstration projects that we will showcase. Hamburg and the World Congress are so important to some companies that they want to present their projects here. Hamburg will host the biggest ITS World Congress of all time.” Jacob Bangsgaard adds “And to support these projects, the Congress’s Technical Programme will comprise over 200 sessions with 107 Special Interest Sessions, 51 Technical Paper Sessions, 16 Research paper sessions and 16 Business Presentations sessions”.

What can industry specialists and Hamburg’s residents expect at the World Congress?

Together with national and international partners, the Hanseatic city of Hamburg will present the latest trends in digitisation, mobility and logistics at the ITS World Congress. Jacob Bangsgaard is really looking forward and says that “This year Congress participants will experience what smarter, cleaner and greener mobility looks like with real-world examples of electric vehicle shared transport and autonomy taking centre stage. Participants can also look forward to a dynamic exhibition showcasing the latest innovative solutions and a creative young start-up area where tomorrow’s minds will pitch their big ideas under the theme ‘Connect, Innovate, Grow’.”

Harry Evers specifies that “In addition to the exhibitions, our events focus on four thematic demonstration tours through the city. On a trip with the electric bus, for example, we show visitors the progress of digitalisation in traffic control to avoid traffic jams and increase road safety. The second tour with a Jasper bus looks at innovations in logistics, goods handling, transport and storage. Another tour with ioki vehicles deals with consumer-related topics such as booking shuttle rides or HVV tickets with a smartphone, or digital parking management. The fourth point is the S-Bahn that drives itself from the main station to Bergedorf.”

What exactly will there be to see? Will there be drones on display that you can look at?

“Manufacturers of large drones, with which even humans can fly, have announced that they will be giving demonstrations. But there will certainly also be demonstrations of the many uses of smaller drones,” clarifies Harry Evers. “Drones are becoming a billion-dollar market. Many of these applications increase safety and convenience. Just one example: today, there are already solutions that directly notify rescue control centres when the airbag in a car is deployed. Drones could quickly take a picture of the accident scene. This will significantly improve first aid on site. In this way, many hundreds of lives can be saved through technical improvements.”

Jacob Bangsgaard is certain, “Of course! But you will have to come and see for yourself.” Participants will be able to see and experience the latest smart mobility technology and innovative solutions in the exhibition hall, at the demonstrations or on the many technical tours taking place at the Congress. All showcases fall within the six Congress themes: Automated and Connected Driving, MaaS, Intelligent Infrastructure, Ports and Logistics, Urban Air Mobility and Sustainable Transport.”

What important trends can the ITS Congress shed light on regarding the Port issues?

“We can learn from other ports what we can do better,” reflects Harry Evers. “Here, too, we quickly come back to the topic of drones – like how they can be used to reduce costs and increase safety and efficiency. The HPA port authority and the terminal operator HHLA have recognized this. The 5G and 6G mobile communications standards also promise efficiency gains, which can increase container throughput and improve connections to the hinterland.”

Would Hamburg look different if the World Congress did not exist?

“The Congress is a showcase in which Hamburg presents itself to the world,” states Harry Evers. “Politicians have supported this process for years, and the administration has recognised the opportunities. That is why there is a clear objective to solve problems and dare to do something new – the focus is on success. Hamburg will be the real-life mobility laboratory for the World Congress – and should remain so. For example, we are talking to the European Commission about how the Green Deal can be put on the road.”

“The ITS Congress always leaves an impressive legacy in the cities that host them, and we are excited to see what Hamburg will achieve after hosting a Congress”, reflects Jacob Bangsgaard. “Vienna, for example, founded Austria Tech for the mobility of the future, which continues to provide a lot of impetus. The networks we are building today will continue to function in the future.”