ITS Australia Summit “a success in Melbourne”

The 7th Australian Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) Summit connected transport technology leaders from across the globe to explore the role of future technology in the context of international collaboration and rapidly evolving standards.

The Summit, 28-29 August 2019 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC), was attended by more than 500 stakeholders within Australian transport technology, representing industry, government, and academia. The two-day program featured 45 speakers, from leading Australian and global ITS organisations.

Twenty-five industry exhibitors filled the busy and expansive exhibition hall at the MCEC in Southbank, Melbourne. In prime position was the Lexus vehicle currently being tested in the connected vehicle trials in a partnership between Lexus Australia and the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads.

The Hon. Alan Tudge, Federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure met exhibitors showcasing Australian innovation in the transport and technology sector before delivering his keynote address.

From major industry players like Cubic and Kapsch, to new mobility innovators Via and Liftango, as well as technology and mapping specialists Aimsum and Here, the ITS Summit represented the full ecosystem of the ITS industry, both on the exhibition floor and the presentation stage.

Diversity and inclusivity are key to the long-term strength and productivity of the industry, a panel discussion facilitated by Dennis Walsh, Chief Engineer at the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads explored that focus. The panel also included recent Churchill Fellowship recipient Zoe Eather of Arup on the integration of Smart Mobility to enable more liveable Australian communities, and Susan Proctor from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) on the important work they are undertaking reskilling older Americans into new roles for the smart transport sector and investigating supporting neurodiversity in STEM. David Bolt from Kapsch rounded out the panel, asking how does industry engage with younger generations and ensure wider diversity is achieved? How do we challenge ‘what an engineer looks like’?

Key topics discussed during the Summit included security of infrastructure, sustainable transport solutions, Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAVs), transport connectivity, Mobility as a Service (MaaS), and industry productivity.

The ITS Summit’s audience heard about the increasing opportunities for transport networks afforded by the rapid advancement of technology. This year, there was a marked increase in the number of speakers addressing how the industry should consider the human impacts of its work, and how technological innovations can be used to improve lives, and how our cities communities work.

Will O’Neil CFO at Busways presented a compelling case for the way that on-demand bus services that offer real customer and network benefits can be designed, working with Via and their ‘secret sauce’ route optimising algorithms and supported by Transport for NSW.

A highlight of day two was a presentation from the Victorian Department of Transport’s Dale Andrea whose presentation encompassed both French enlightenment writer Voltaire and data visualisation. 

The ITS Summit was officially opened by The Hon. Alan Tudge MP, Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure who spoke about how transport technologies can, now and in the future, help to solve traffic congestion in Australia’s growing cities.

“Avoidable congestion across our capital cities now costs $25 billion per year. Without any policy change, this is predicted to rise to as much as $40 billion per year by 2030,” said Tudge.

Minister Tudge went on to describe some of the Intelligent Transport Systems projects that are taking place around the country, and which are combating congestion, as part of the Australian Government’s $100 billion program of transport infrastructure expenditure.

“Intelligent Transport System solutions—such as ramp metering, dynamic speed limits, reversible lanes, variable signage and traffic signal priority for emergency and freight vehicles—can massively increase road utilisation and hence, effective capacity,” said Tudge.

“While we look ahead and plan for the new technologies that could transform the sector, we are actively investing in the proven technologies of today. The Australian Government’s record investment in transport infrastructure can only benefit from better utilisation and better services and management made available through technology.”

The 7th Australia ITS Summit look place along-side a meeting of the Michigan-Australia Exchange (MAX) on Future Mobility, a partnership between the State of Michigan and the Australian Government that came into being with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in October 2018 in Melbourne.  “Australia is known for its innovation in transport and ability to deploy new technologies successfully; Michigan is a global leader in automotive manufacturing. There are unique opportunities for collaboration between the two regions. ITS Australia is proud to be part of this partnership and the potential it has to offer,” said Susan Harris, Chief Executive Officer, ITS Australia.

The Summit also featured Dr James Sayer, Director of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI). “Regardless of significant differences in approaches to mobility and solutions available across the globe, one challenge that is universal is addressing and managing change relative to the status quo” said Sayer.

As with the ITS (UK) Summit in Bristol last year, former Director of the Michigan Department of Transport, Kirk T. Steudle, was a keynote speaker at the Summit. Steudle, now Senior Vice President of Econolite Systems, spoke about how mobility technologies must evolve in concert with the vision and core values of the communities they are intended to serve.

“The fusing of technology into our daily lives shows no signs of slowing down. Integration of technology into the transport network is needed for greater economic efficiency and expansion,” said Steudle.

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