The official overseeing European transport, DG MOVE Director General Henrik Hololei has told a meeting in Brussels that it’s vital the ITS industry harnesses “unprecedented opportunities”.
Giving the keynote address at the ERTICO – ITS Europe Think Tank, attended by ITS (UK), he said that the way we have done things will be challenged and we will see more change over the next decade than we have in more than our lifetimes.
The last transport mode that came into being was aviation, he explained. Now hyperloop is spilling out of the boundaries of convention and it is already there to deliver disruption and bring transport into a new era.
“Inertia isn’t an option,” he said. “Innovative solutions must be used and we use all necessary tools to make sure they benefit.”
To remain a leader, Europe has to continue to earn that right he said, pointing to ERTICO members in the room who he said play a key role in making the innovative changes, being bold and ready to think out of the box.
Mr Hololei talked about three key priorities – safety, digitisation and environment.
He explained how Europe’s success on road safety has rested on putting it at the top of priorities. As part of the Vision Zero goal for 2050, the overriding objective is to reduce accidents in an integrated way, bringing safety features into technical regulations and improving the safety management of road infrastructure. However he warned that improvements have stagnated in recent years, which need not be surprising because Europe is the safest region in the world and has therefore “picked the low hanging fruit”. “New technology upgrades are paramount – so many brilliant solutions will find their way onto the roads and into the vehicles. We must make good use of Europe’s competitive advantage in the automotive sector and must work on CAVs to make them the world’s safest cars,” he said.
A common vision for the future and EU framework must be perfectly aligned to industry vision, he explained. He said that although technology will evolve, certain decisions must be made today to empower citizens and the industry and that we must not underestimate public acceptance in the delivery of economic success. “Digital developments move faster than legislative processes,” he said. “The most advanced shippers are moving into the world of blockchain and beyond.”
On his third point, if tomorrow’s mobility is to be safe and decarbonised, he said, new technology must be at the centre. New technological applications make a key role and the decarbonisation strategy is not only making a difference, it is “paying dividends” and Europe remains global leaders.
“People in this room are already convinced that data is the new fuel of transport enabling us to monitor and link to our physical infrastructure, safer, smarter,” he said. “This wave of innovation has also led to a growing demand for mobility services. It’s making the role of users more important, and digitalisation influences behaviour and expectations.”
But, he added, “Modal shift is challenging but mind shift is much more so. Our actions must bring a mind shift because only then can we make a difference. The status quo is not an option.”
On data, he said he thinks algorithms, artificial intelligence and connectivity bring us better, safer and cleaner mobility. An intelligent and sustainable transport infrastructure must integrate with energy and telecoms. “Multimodality is about seeing a journey as a whole, not a series of bits and pieces. On the passenger front it means social inclusiveness too. It’s for the old, young, disabled and those in rural areas.
He also talked about his concern about cyber security saying the magnitude of the phenomenon is clear and “we must work together to build up resilience so people don’t lose trust in digital solutions”. Data privacy is also an issue.
But, he summed up, if we get it right, “we can be confident we will not only be players but shaping the future”.