Interview with Ministers Doris Bures (Austria) Pavel Dobes (Czech Republic) Flourentzou Efthemios (Cyprus) Alan Kelly (Ireland) Merja Kyllönen (Finland) and Tuck Yew Lui (Singapore) ahead of the Ministerial Roundtabel at ITS Vienna 2012.

Thirteen Ministers of Transport will meet in Vienna in the morning of the official opening of the 19th ITS World Congress. In a 2-hour close discussion Ministers participating and high level representatives will debate the needs and challenges for the successful implementation of ITS. The roundtable will be a great opportunity to share successful stories and the results of national ITS policies and to discuss the impact these projects have had on transport the environment and society. Last but not least Ministers will decide on the next steps within the framework of international meetings and World Congresses and endorse a joint statement to support a common approach among the countries for safer more efficient and greener transport systems and mobility services of the future.

We had the exclusive opportunity to interview some of the Ministries participating in the roundtable and asked them to share their expectations on ITS deployment the message they will be giving at the meeting and their hopes for future ITS.

ERTICO: Your country is very active in the deployment of Intelligent Transport Systems. What do you expect from Intelligent Transport Systems and how do you support their deployment?

Doris Bures – Austrian Minister for Transport Innovation & Technology Host of the roundtable

I regard ITS as an integrating element. It helps to combine all means of transport in a seamless way to make the best of a traffic system and therefore holds the key to multimodality. For deploying ITS successfully you need the “4 S” – strategies – structures – standards – and last but not least you need stories to tell. On the one hand to further encourage us politicians as well as operators and industry in investing in ITS on the other hand to make end users aware of their individual advantages. In the end it is always the user who likes and adopts a political measure. Therefore the ITS Vienna 2012 emphasises the benefits that new mobility solutions provide to end users. During its preparations the World Congress has already proven to be an important push towards the future of mobility but I am sure there is more to come.

Flourentzou Efthemios – Cyprus’ Minister of Communications and Works President of the EU Transport Council

Cyprus is in the early stages of ITS deployment. A few systems are running successfully while Cyprus is already planning the full scale deployment of a series of ITS applications for the years to come in order to achieve improvements in mobility safety productivity of its transportation system and environmental effects mitigation. We expect to achieve better integration of all transport modes in order to cover all interfaces and deploy several applications that will assist towards a modal shift to public transport an area where Cyprus is a bit behind compared to most of European Member States. Since the completion of an ITS Master Plan for Cyprus in 2009 we embarked on implementing several systems in order to provide public transport information and planning as well as real time traffic information to name a few. Through road concessions as well as EU funding through programs such as INTERREG we anticipate a more rapid deployment of ITS systems in the near future. The development of an appropriate business model to bring together all actors and stakeholders is also something we are looking into in order to boost the deployment of ITS in Cyprus.

Pavel Dobeš – Czech Minister of Transport

Intelligent transport systems are in principle the only solution for managing increasing traffic demands in the future. ITS allow a complex view on all modes of transport and make easier co-ordination between individual transport systems and also better management of crisis and extraordinary events. For this reasons the Czech Republic supports ITS deployment and implementation.

The provision of ITS services will be provided not only by the public but also the private sector due to the economical potential related to ITS deployment. It is necessary to ensure co-operation among various systems. For example activities in the Czech Republic in the area of multi-modal journey planner or national-wide traffic information system are supported by law where obligations for common approach during deployment of these systems for all involved parties are defined.  ITS development is defined in the national regional or urban strategies. The legislative strategic and normative documents create a framework for the harmonised deployment of new applications and their integration with the existing ITS systems. 

Merja Kyllönen – Finland’s Minister of Transport and Communications

ITS will be part of the ubiquitous information society and the everyday lives of citizens. Together Intelligent transport networks and services intelligent vehicles and travellers who are well informed about transport services will form an interoperable transport system. Vehicles and travellers will produce real-time data on the status of the transport system. This will provide the information basis for predictions concerning any changes in the transport system status as well as for transport operations. Vehicles will communicate with the transport infrastructure and transport information systems and even with each other. Travellers will be able to access transport system status information easily anywhere and at any time. An intelligent transport system will suggest alternative routes and transport modes taking into consideration the traveller’s personal needs and preferences together with environmental sustainability. With the help of information and communication technology transport policy will become more customer-oriented significantly improving the nation’s competitiveness increasing productivity improving transport services and logistics promoting transport safety and reducing the carbon footprint of transport along with its other negative impacts on the environment.

In Finland we introduced our first multimodal ITS Strategy in 2009 and a second generation ITS strategy will be completed this year. The budget for implementing the strategy is 400 million Euros in 2012-2015. The Finnish Government made in 2010 a resolution to open up its public data to the public and private sectors available free of charge or with low costs. This will help us to implement our ITS strategy and release innovations in order to achieve more customer orientated services. We have also carried out a reorganisation in our administrative branch to shift the focus from individual transport sectors to the transport system as a whole.

Alan Kelly – Ireland’s Minister of State for Public and Commuter Transport

Ireland has invested a great deal in its transport infrastructure over the last 10 years or so. Like many countries we are now looking to get the most out of it. IT has tremendous potential to help further develop integrate manage and maximise use of our transport assets going forward. However ITS is not just about greater use of our transport network but also the better use of it for our population enabling people to better plan their journeys and use public transit wherever possible. A number of the advances in Ireland over the last number of years such as real time bus information will be on show in Dublin next year for the European ITS Congress. 

My Department’s role is to provide a well-functioning integrated public transport system which enhances competitiveness sustains economic progress promotes balanced regional development and contributes to social cohesion. We seek to provide a standard of public transport at reasonable cost to the customer and the taxpayer; and provide infrastructure and facilities necessary for public transport provision. The long-term ambition is to make Ireland a European leader in ITS and that is why we are investing so much time and effort into studying its benefits.

Tuck Yew Lui – Singapore’s Minister of Transport

In Singapore we live and commute in a highly urbanised environment with limited scope to expand our road network.  Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) which include state-of-the art computerised traffic signals and information systems give us the flexibility to offer a wide-range of applications to improve the travel experience. For planners ITS yield information that enable us to plan strategically and manage travel demand. For public transport commuters ITS offer timely travel information on buses and trains. For the motorists ITS smoothes traffic flows provide accurate information and facilitate decision-making on alternative routes or even modes of travel. Singapore sees the ITS as a key priority.

The ITS World Congress in Vienna 2012 will become another milestone to create global political awareness of the benefits but also of the challenges to deploy Intelligent Transport Systems. What is your message to your Minister colleagues concerning the challenges to deploy Intelligent Transport Systems?

Minister Kyllönen (Finland)

The transport system’s most important customers are the people with their mobility needs and businesses with their particular transport requirements. The needs of these user groups form the basis for intelligent transport services and the functioning of the transport system itself. By including customers in the interactive development of services the creativity of individuals and communities can be fully utilised and the high quality of services and genuine demand for them can be ensured. A versatile transport system and transport policy realised with the help of ITS will guide travellers towards the use of environmentally sustainable economical and safe modes of transport.

Minister Dobeš (Czech Republic)

A very important issue for harmonised ITS development is cross border cooperation and knowledge sharing supported by best practice examples.  It is also important to focus on acceptance of ITS systems by all potential users and relevant stakeholders.

It is essential to take into account the conformity assessment of components and the testing and verification of the reliability of safety-relevant and safety-critical applications. This should be performed either before the introduction of a new product on the market or its regular inspection during the operation time which will secure the user to have installed equipment according to published standards. In case of such system or equipment failure in the crisis or critical situations the public could lose their trust in these systems.

Minister Kelly (Ireland)

The transport network is the cardiovascular system of the global economy – an economy or city is only as good as its transport system allows it to be. We need to work together to eliminate barriers to the smooth operation of transport systems. Often this just involves talking to each other and agreeing standards and procedures. Speaking with one voice we can get the message out there that the potential benefits of wider deployment of ITS are very significant. Achieving proper integration of a transport system is something that requires a lot of persistence and bringing people together. But advances in ITS will make this process much more seamless and second nature in future. That is the key message to our colleagues.

Minister Efthemios (Cyprus)

The ITS World Congress provides an excellent platform to raise global awareness for the benefits of ITS but also gives the opportunity for participants Ministers and the rest of the world to discuss the challenges we all face in deploying Intelligent Transport Systems. Institutional challenges sometimes hinder the integration of ITS into the regional transportation operations and planning process. Such challenges are varied and consist of a lack of coordination within and among local authorities and government agencies to the broad context of professional traditions and organisational targets. Better understanding of these challenges is a critical step towards developing an effective integration strategy for ITS development. Through innovations such as road sensors and predictive analytics transport systems can be made smarter and efficient allowing agencies to be more proactive in dealing with traffic issues.

One key element in implementing the new transport policy is to replace the traditional planning model which emphasises new investments with continuing development by ITS tools and other small-scale solutions. We should utilise new innovations and shift the focus from contracting orientated model towards customer-oriented transport network operations.

Minister Lui (Singapore)

Significant financial and political capital must be invested in order to reap the benefits. When Singapore decided to implement the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system to tackle congestion it was a difficult political decision and much effort was needed to convince Singaporeans of its benefits. Today the results speak for themselves. The combination of ERP and the strict controls we place on the growth of the vehicle population have helped to maintain average traffic speeds on our highways and roads within an optimum range and reduced the congestion in the city centre considerably. A hassle-free commute contributes to make Singapore a global city of choice.

Minister Bures (Austria)

Even though Austria is one of the frontrunners and best practice examples we are all together at a starting point of consistent and harmonised deployment of ITS. We have to create a community of practice to learn from each other and develop common standards. Of course we need a common ‘big picture’ but we have to walk step by step in deploying systems. Otherwise some of the important partners and stakeholders may not be able to follow. Now is the right time to get things moving. The ITS Vienna 2012 marks the first successful dialogue between industry and policymakers in form of a Ministerial Round Table and a joint statement by ministers and representatives from important international organisations.

Imagine the year 2030. What do you hope Intelligent Transport Systems will deliver to the traveller goods transport and the driver?

Minister Efthemios (Cyprus)

It is my hope that by 2030 we will have more widespread use of ITS with innovative solutions that will warrant moving beyond just collecting data and providing information for one mode of transport for example road traffic data will become a reality. I am hoping that the vision for the future ITS will shift towards a truly integrated multi modal ITS that would integrate data streams from land sea and air and more specifically advanced systems and will be capable of providing accurate and efficient real time traffic information.

Intelligent Transport Systems have a key role to play in transforming the transport system and boosting the competitiveness of the global transport industry. Interoperable systems such as emergency call systems installed in every vehicle multimodal journey planners for every citizen and efficient logistics systems are anticipated to assist towards achieving the objectives and benefits of ITS. Also it is important to note the necessary yield towards facilitating co-modality by promoting the connected traveller concept with emphasis on the continuity of services.

Minister Lui (Singapore)

Intelligent roads and intelligent vehicles will interact much more going into the future. We can expect vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications autonomous vehicle movement and electric vehicles to become more prevalent. Intelligent systems controlling bus movements and traffic signals will make bus journeys quicker and more efficient. Coupled with better and more accurate information of bus arrivals and service levels this will give commuters better control of their travel choices and improve their overall travel experience. We can also expect more interactive and dynamic real-time information to enhance overall operational efficiencies for logistics and goods transport companies and help reduce business costs and carbon footprints.

Minister Bures (Austria)

I expect ITS to provide a good and robust basis to help users operators and also us politicians in taking smart decisions. Future mobility solutions will help us to make transport and its impacts more transparent and evident. Travelling within and across borders will become easier and more comfortable the efficiency and sustainability of freight traffic will increase and road safety will be improved in general.

Minister Kyllönen (Finland)

In the year 2030 the transport system will be operated in real time and will provide travelers with constant travel and transport information as well as information on any conditions affecting them. The transport infrastructure and transport services will be used significantly more efficiently than now.

Minister Kelly (Ireland)

To pick one aspect of ITS I see people in 2030 being able to plan their journey across a range of modes well in advance and buy one e-ticket for the whole journey stored securely on the cloud until needed. The information systems in place to service such a vision will be invaluable to the traveller and transporter alike. I’d also like to say that I think we are most of the way there to deliver on this vision. ITS has the ability to transform the experience of the commuter and I see my role as promoting this as much as possible.

Minister Dobeš (Czech Republic)

If we ask children those who will be thirty in 2030 we would learn that most of them will consider deployment of ITS applications as a standard in daily life. My colleague once told me that his eight-years old daughter wrote in her fairy-tail focused homework  the following: “Once upon a time an old grandma lived in a cottage near by a forest. She was poor there was no furniture in her cottage and even there was no internet connection there…”. Based on this example we can see that today’s generation of children will consider the ITS to be a normal part of their daily lives. I personally believe that ITS as a tool for traffic management will increase infomobility and by this as well travel comfort. Furthermore ITS will make transport safer securer and more efficient and will contribute to optimised energy consumption in transport.

A final thought of Minister Alan Kelly on the next European ITS Congress

The European ITS Congress is taking place in Dublin next year from 4 to 7 June and I invite ITS stakeholders to come to Dublin and witness examples on the ground of how ITS is making a difference to ordinary Dubliners from the successful Dublin bike scheme to integrated ticketing from barrier-free electronic tolling to variable messaging. Please also visit the ERTICO stand at the World Congress in Vienna to find out more and go along to the Special Interest Session on the event in Business Suite 2 on the Thursday 25 October at 16:00.

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Original Publication Date: Wed 17 Oct 2012