The ITS World Congress 2012 in Vienna is only eight months away. The congress theme: ‘smarter on the way’ focusing on using ITS to better serve customers connect seamlessly and encourage sustainability.

The global ITS community is excited about the upcoming ITS World Congress in Vienna. What are your expectations for the event?

Doris Bures: We expect over 3000 delegates and 10000 exhibition visitors making this the largest ITS World Congress to date. Not only will the congress be an ideal place to learn new ideas but attendees will also experience Vienna one of the world’s smartest cities. Visitors will see firsthand how Vienna’s integrated transport system lively culture sustainable planning and high quality of life are supported by smart city technology. They can also participate in hands-on demonstrations in a test area adjacent to the congress centre. Congress organisers are working closely with leading edge developers and companies including the Car2Car Communication Consortium Kapsch Swarco Siemens and Efkon as well as the Austrian highway operator Asfinag to create a demonstration programme highlighting the latest and most innovative new ITS technologies. The demonstrations will also be designed to allow members of the public to experience the benefits of ITS since they are actually the final users.

You want to make the Congress more political. What does this mean exactly?

Doris Bures: Mobility is an important political question because mobility is a basic need in today’s society. It is central to our individual well-being and to our common economic development. Mobility governs business location and makes it possible for us to share ideas and products with people from around the world. But these benefits have created exploding demand and led to problems ranging from traffic congestion to climate change. As policy makers our challenge is: How can we create a sustainable environmentally friendly and socially responsible transport system given this rapidly increasing demand? One step in the right direction is expanding sustainable transport. We are doing this in Austria by strongly supporting public transport bicycling and sustainable development. But our future must also be intelligent. We need to create truly Intelligent Transport Systems.

From my perspective there are three requirements: first Intelligent Transport Systems must be user-focused; these systems must be easy to use helpful and increase safety. Second ITS must be borderless. It shouldn’t matter what language you speak or where you bought your navigation device. We need standards to ensure compatibility but without constraining innovation. Third ITS must increase sustainability. Protecting the environment is our generation’s greatest challenge and ITS must play a role. What’s needed now is to implement ITS in real transport systems. This requires excellent cooperation between all players and technologies and that brings us back to the idea of making the congress more political. One way we’ll do this is with the Ministerial Round Table scheduled for 22 October. In this roundtable high-level political leaders from throughout the world will meet to develop recommendations for improving international cooperation. I am convinced this will be an important step towards better transnational collaboration.

Why are Intelligent Transport Systems important for Austria?

Doris Bures: Today’s transport policy challenge is to strike a balance between ensuring mobility for people and goods while at the same time ensuring transport system sustainability in the face of scarce resources and emission limits. The only way to successfully meet these complex and dynamic challenges is to move smarter in other words to use ITS to optimise system planning and operations. With this goal in mind I have launched the Austrian ITS Action Plan. This plan defines our strategy for implementing an Intelligent Transport System consistent with European guidelines. The plan defines Austrian priority areas and emphasises the main points for creating a viable mobility system.

What are your plans concerning future implementation of ITS in Austria?

Doris Bures: We need to ensure that Intelligent Transport Systems are designed and implemented seamlessly: they must work across city regional and national borders and they must serve all transport modes. To meet the complex demands of our multimodal and multi-purpose transport system we must involve a broad range of stakeholders in the planning and development process. This type of integrated dialogue will help us identify and implement widely accepted services that optimise transport rather than proprietary solutions that make transport more difficult. We have started this broad stakeholder dialogue in Austria and the first success was the definition of six ITS action-areas: Traffic Management Traveller Information Freight Transport and Logistics Vehicles New Mobility Concepts and Basic Functions (e. g. standardisation). In each area we have identified the key instruments needed to implement the necessary improvement measures. These instruments include funding programmes innovative procurement processes and standardisation. Importantly the instruments are designed to ensure that ITS elements are fully integrated into the standard transport planning and development process.

What is from your point of view the most important aspect of ITS?

Doris Bures: The Austrian ITS Action Plan sets forth a vision for using ITS in three priority areas: safety efficiency and environment. ITS must help us achieve our “vision zero” goal in each of these areas. ITS must help us reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries to zero ITS must help us provide smooth and uninterrupted traffic flow even in dense traffic a vision that includes considering how to optimise traffic between modes and finally ITS must help us reduce emissions and environmental impacts. These goals come directly from the European Commission’s Transport White Paper and are major objectives of our programme.

Another key goal for ITS especially in times of economic difficulty is in helping make transport systems more efficient and cost effective. In fact ITS is a great way to increase mobility without new construction. ITS will help improve everyone’s daily mobility. For example ITS already has been revolutionising many aspects of urban transport from helping people plan their trips to paying for services. Finally ITS is an excellent driver for economic growth as we have seen in Austria. Many leading ITS producers are located here and are contributing to our economy.

One special focus of the ITS World Congress 2012 is attracting new talent. Why do we need more women in this field?

Doris Bures: ITS like many technical fields has traditionally been a male dominated profession. However to achieve the real promise of ITS we need everyone to participate in its development. Expanded participation means more creativity and innovation – and it’s especially important to involve women in transport because women often make more trips use more different modes of transport and make different types of trips than men. In short they bring a whole set of new ideas ideas we need to create effective transport systems.

We are proud that in Austria almost 29% of engineering graduates are female but it’s not enough. We need to encourage more young women to study technical subjects and awaken their interest in emerging fields like information technology. Innovation only happens when we open our minds to new ideas and perspectives – minimising the input from over 50% of the population means less creativity fewer ideas and diminished potential. I should also note that studies have shown that companies with a good gender balance are more successful.

Any closing thoughts about the ITS World Congress 2012?

Doris Bures: It’s clear that transport faces many challenges but it’s also clear that ITS can help us successfully meet these challenges. In Austria we long supported ITS Research and Development. We are now applying these technologies to create a more sustainable and equitable transport system. Taking up this spirit I encourage you to visit Vienna for the ITS World Congress 2012.

Take part – be smarter on the way!

For more information visit the 19th ITS World Congress website.

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Original Publication Date: Tue 21 Feb 2012