The ITS World Congress officially got underway this afternoon (October 21) with a packed opening ceremony at the Suntec Convention & Exhibition Centre, Singapore.
At the event, as is traditional, there were three new inductees into the ITS Hall of Fame, one from each of the main ITS regions. This year all of them had key roles in helping to organize previous World Congresses.
ITS America president Shailen Bhatt gave the honor to HNTB’s Jim Barbaresso in particular recognition of his role in organising the successful 2014 World Congress in Detroit. ERTICO-ITS Europe’s president Jacob Bangsgaard inducted Svend Tofting into the Hall of Fame, who had a key role in organizing last year’s congress in Copenhagen. And Brian Negus became the first Australian inductee, who, with ITS Australia, was instrumental in the successful Melbourne congress in 2016. He was presented his award by ITS Asia-Pacific president Hajime Amano.
Guest of honour for the event was Sinagpore’s coordination minster for infrastructure and minister for transport Mr Khaw Boon Wan (below). He gave a revealing speech, shedding light on how Singapore has maintained its key role in the development of global mobility solutions over the last four decades and more.
“It is Singapore’s honor to host this year’s ITS World Congress,” he said. “But ITS not new to this region. Singapore’s approach to the development of ITS is to ensure it creates an efficient and reliable transport network. So goods and people move efficiently and easily.
“To do this we always take our time to understand and clearly define the public transport problem. We look at technology from neutral stance exploring a wide range of solutions and then we short-list a few. Then we can choose wisely. We do not rush to be ahead of the curve. We are plugged in and fully aware of what new technologies are available out there.
“We Pioneered road pricing in 1975. With police officers looking for decal on windscreens. We upgraded in 1998 to ERP and installed gantries and sensors and in-vehicle units. After two decades we are ready to further upgrade the system to GNSS. This will be more efficient and flexible. It will also provide a platform for the next generation traffic lights and apps with traffic alerts.”
However, despite Singapore’s careful measured approach to ITS deployment, Mr Khaw Boon Wan did admit there was one area where he was prepared to rush ahead.
“Last week we announced our 5G roll out,” he said. “I see great advantages in supporting growth of autonomous vehicles. Or using it to leverage the digital economy. Generally we do not rush ahead with public transport. But for infrastructure like 5G we are not scared to be first to sharpen Singapore’s competitive edge.”
He concluded with a rousing call-to-arms for this week’s conference: “No country can successfully deploy ITS without international collaboration it is therefore important to engage at platforms like the World Congress. Collectively we can build a better world for our people.”