Representatives from across the British transportation industry used the High Commission reception at the UK Pavilion at the ITS World Congress in Singapore last night (October 23) to make the first public announcement of the country’s bid to hold the ITSWC in 2024.
After a speech from Singapore’s deputy high commissioner, Alexandra McKenzie, and the UK Department for Transport’s (DfT) chief scientific adviser, Professor Phil Blythe; John Paddington, innovation integration lead for Transport for West Midlands, focused attention on the UK’s bid to hold the World Congress in Birmingham in 2024.
Speaking exclusively to Traffic Technology Today at the event, Paddington said, “It’s been in the planning since May time, but we’ve kept it deliberately under the radar, because we wanted to focus on the event here in Singapore first and really celebrate the Congress, because it’s such an amazing event. It’s just fantastic, being able to talk to people from all around the world. I was in sessions this morning talking about C-ITS and it’s so great to collaborate in that international way.”
Focusing on the Birmingham bid, Paddington believes the city has some unique features that make it an ideal location for the event. “We are in many ways a typical city. In the 60s, we were a car dependant city. We built spaghetti junction, we built the motorways, Birmingham was known as the city of the car,” he said. “But we realized we can’t keep doing that. And we need to change. And we need to change in a different way. I think that story of change will resonate with a lot of places. We can give some lessons learned. We’ve been doing lots and lots of excellent work for many years.
“Recently we’ve been trialling MaaS through Whim and we’ve had autonomous vehicles running on the streets of Coventry. And to some extent we haven’t promoted that. We haven’t said all the great things we do. So, we want to do that. We want people to actually find out what we do. And also to highlight the great stuff everybody else is doing.”
Darren Capes, intelligent transport systems policy lead, at the UK’s DfT, said: “The Department for Transport is fully behind the bid. Absolutely. It aligns with our aims in terms of in terms of promoting transport technology, in terms of reaching out, in terms of showing what the UK can do. It’s also about was learning as well. We learn an awful lot when we comes to events like this. And we’d love to to get the rest of the world into the West Midlands and I think the facilities in the city, the work that Birmingham is doing and the fact that the West Midlands are our first funded Future Mobility Zone means is a perfect place to show new technology.”
“We’re also supporting the bed because our role is to make sure we drum up opportunities for British business, make the connections for our universities and drive UK PLC to be successful,” added Helen Wydle, chief engagement officer at the UK’s Connected Places Catapult. “And an event like the ITSWC is such a wonderful networking event for all companies to come together and do that. If it was hosted in the UK we could put on massive showcases of UK talent around intelligent transport and smart cities and what the future looks. And particularly following on from the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham [to be held in 2022] and all of the things which are in Birmingham in terms of great infrastructure already, it will really show you what you can do with connected and autonomous vehicles, MaaS and all the new things which are happening, onan infrastructure which already exists, because they are the new technologies that Birmingham is looking at now – they’re doing that right now.”