As the ITS World Congress got underway, with a drinks reception at the Bella Center in Copenhagen last night (September 17), TrafficTechnologyToday.com, grabbed a quick chat with Brian Negus, former president of ITS Australia and now special ambassador for the organization, about what the World Congress has meant for his country and organization since it hosted the event in Melbourne in 2016, and how Denmark can expect to benefit from it.
“In the period leading up to the World Congress we had basically five years of planning and that really engaged our membership nationally, but also allowed us to promote Australia 2016 at the other World Congresses we were visiting, so we got engagement around the world,” recalls Negus. “We finished up with having over 3,700 full-time delegates and over 10,000 people visiting the congress both in the exhibition and also the sessions.”
Negus is particularly proud of the way the event helped to put Australia on the map in terms of ITS. “It leveraged enormously the expertise we had in Australia, but it showed the world where Australia was in the context of smart solutions,” he says. “We are concentrating, as most are, on safety, on directions for the environment, but also on reducing congestion. So, people got that, and they got the fact that Australia was engaged in it.”
But the benefits for ITS Australia weren’t confined to the build-up and the event itself – they are still being felt today. “We made a nice profit,” says Negus. “So that allowed us to invest back into the membership by setting policy directions and employing a policy manager, which we couldn’t do before, and using that profit to reinvest back into members. So now we are setting policy directions. Using our members to advise government is now one of our principle roles. That’s been a massive change which wouldn’t have been possible without having the World Congress.”
The ITS Australia constitution doesn’t allow anyone to be president for longer than six years, so Negus had to step down to make way for Dean Zabrieszach last year, but he still has a very active role in the organization. “We set up a Policy Committee, which I’m chairing,” he says. “It’s got six of our other board members on it. We’re also engaging our gold and platinum members as members of the policy committee. And that brings expertise from government, the private sector and universities together to develop good policy directions, which we can then advise state and federal governments on, in Australia. But also, it shows members the value of them being a member of ITS Australia.”
Clearly the ITS World Congress has been a great force for good in Australia and Negus is confident it will have similar benefits for Denmark. “I’m sure it will be good for Denmark. This is my 11th World Congress in a row. You see it every year. It engages people around the world, but importantly in your own country. And people then get the fact that Intelligent Transport Systems are meaningful in our daily lives.”