Speech by Minister for Public and Commuter Transport
Alan Kelly TD
At the Official Opening of the 9th European ITS Congress
Convention Centre Dublin
4th June 2013
Lord Mayor, (you’re welcome to stay) Director-General, Chairman, esteemed colleagues, Ministers and delegates, I was delighted when Dublin was chosen to host the 9th
ITS European Congress and it is a great pleasure for me to be associated with it and to address you here this afternoon. And before you ask, yes we have arranged for the weather, we didn’t want you all feeling homesick.
Thanks to some of the great people in this room, we are on the cusp of something akin to a transport revolution that can and will change the transport experience for the better right across the globe. Where rail and canals changed the face of the transport system in the past, software and data will shape the transport developments of the 21st century.
In this regard, it is important that both the public and the private sector work towards this reality so that society as a whole can benefit from this in the form of safer, more efficient and more environmentally friendly forms of transport for both people and goods.
Building our way around major transport and traffic problems will not provide a solution in and of itself. This is becoming clear to policy makers right across the world, but through the efficient application of intelligent technology, we can make our limited transport infrastructure work safer, faster, better and cheaper and this conference is a testament to that fact.
Just to give you one example in this city, when I took over the brief of Public & Commuter Transport, it did not seem possible that a commuter could check the optimum way to get around Dublin using their smartphone, that they could switch between transport modes with a single-ticket and again use their smartphone to check when and where their transport will be arriving. Yet once you get the technology correct, you can roll out progressive change quite quickly and build on it from there. The tangible benefits of ITS to citizens are so clear and obvious, we wish we had embraced this long before now.
Importance of ITS globally and in Ireland
The strategic importance of ITS in the global economy is evidenced by the fact that over 55 countries are represented here today. Vast human and financial resources are expended in the sector each year.
In the Irish economy ITS employs around 10,000 people in 300 entities and contributes well over €500 million to the Irish economy annually and I believe there is great potential for growth here that is being supported by Government policy at a national and local level. Ireland has an excellent reputation for driving innovation in information technology and this is at the heart of ITS.
I hope you will get the chance to meet some of the vibrant young companies at the Irish Pavilion in the exhibition hall and I hope to see more Irish start-ups in the sector in the coming years, because despite the large size of these Congresses I think ITS has yet to hit its potential, I think we have yet to really see what it can do, what it can achieve but I certainly hope we will see it shortly.
Congress Themes and what Ireland has achieved in ITS
The motto of this Congress is “Real Solutions for Real Needs” and that is what I would like to talk about in the context of the Congress themes.
Sustainable City Regions
It is a fact of modern life that the vast majority of people live in towns and cities, and this trend continues here and elsewhere. So our cities need to be liveable-in.
We need to be able to get around them safely, quickly and efficiently. ITS has a critical role to play in making cities and city regions sustainable.
We will hear a lot about this during the week. For example about energy efficiency which of course concerns much more than just efficient engines but also concerns for example barrier free electronic tolling which we have here on the M50 motorway and journey planning apps which help drivers find the best route from a fuel efficiency point of view.
And when it comes to moving people at least, the most energy-efficient method is of course to move them in groups and we still need greater modal shift from cars onto buses, trains and trams. We can encourage people to do this by making public transport convenient and predicable. With the introduction of the Leap Card integrated ticket and the installation of over 500 real time passenger information displays we have achieved this in Dublin and are seeing the benefits. Over a quarter of a million Leap Cards are in operation and are being used for 1.6 million journeys a month. And I have been waiting to say this for a long time, there is a Leap card for everybody in the audience. It should be in your delegate pack.
We will also learn about electro-mobility and I believe we will see more and more electric vehicles on our roads. For this to become a reality though a national charging infrastructure is needed and we in Ireland are currently putting this in place, bearing in mind that this needs to be interoperable with systems abroad.
There is room for more, we have national door to door journey planning in Ireland but we need it for Europe and I know the European Commission is working towards this. More can be done to educate public and professional drivers about eco-driving and more technology can be put in place to support it. The list goes on and one, one thing the ITS community is not short of is challenges! As an ITS community, we are certainly up for these challenges.
Among my responsibilities is oversight of the National transport policy document Smarter Travel and I believe we need to travel smarter. For this we need effective and up to the minute information to enable us (or more likely our devices!) to make time- and energy-efficient choices.
We have real-time travel information on the M1 and the M50 motorways here in Ireland and plan further roll-out of this technology.
In time I expect to see this and other kinds of travel information increasingly integrated into our vehicles making our journeys less time-consuming, more efficient, safer and more enjoyable.
One of the recurring themes in ITS is standardisation. I know the European Commission is working via the ITS Directive to help facilitate the adoption of specifications in a range of areas from travel information to the safety system eCall and Ireland supports the Commission’s aims here.
We also need to open up our data in an accessible and safe way so that is can be fully harnessed by the technologies for which it is the life-blood. In the long run we will all gain from this.
Competitiveness through innovation
ITS has of course been with us for many years yet we see it as something new. I suppose this is because it is constantly reinventing itself and finding new and better solutions for the problems we face in the transport sector. But, for example, when you think of the effect internet shopping has had on the way products get delivered to people’s living rooms, we can see that the problems themselves also evolve! So we must innovate continuously.
Not far from here in the grounds of one of the oldest institutions in Ireland, Trinity College, sits the dome of the European Space Expo. I’m delighted it is visiting Dublin. It showcases the Galileo programme, one of the most exciting developments in Europe and one which is going to have a huge impact on ITS. I am sure that when it is fully available it will lead to an explosion of new services and I hope Ireland will be in the fray when that happens.
What Government can do
What can public sector leaders do to sustain and encourage the development of ITS?
Well in Ireland a good deal of ITS implementation takes place via public authorities and public spending last year in ITS was in the order of €17m.
My Department will also shortly begin to co-ordinate the development of a National ITS Strategy and I will closely monitor its development and implementation.
We can also work towards greater availability of public data and try to provide leadership in the effort to create wider standardisation and interoperability.
Data-sharing is key to the development of ITS both in Ireland and internationally. Most of the successful ITS initiatives have been based on public administrations allowing the private sector to maximise use of their data.
We speak a lot about the smart economy in this country, well today we are all witnesses to what it can achieve for the transport sector if given the right support from Government.
Before I finish, I would like for my part to thank all those involved in organising this Congress, ERTICO-ITS Europe, ITS Ireland, Dublin City Council, the European Commission, my own Department and all those other organisations and networks who have also been involved or who have chosen this time to come to Dublin. It is shaping up to be a memorable event I hope that the effects of the knowledge-sharing and contacts made over the next few days will ripple on for a long time to come.
I wonder what we can expect in the future? When we step out the exit at our hometown airport will our own car meet us, driverless, at the door? Will we be buying transport services like we currently buy mobile phone services?
Will V2V communication make traffic accidents a thing of the past? It’s nice give flight to our imagination from time to time but for the next few days let’s focus on what works for what’s needed!
[“V2V” is the abbreviation used for Vehicle to Vehicle]
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