It is often overlooked that the end of an ITS World Congress
can be a dynamic beginning and the legacy can be far-reaching. Hajime Amano, President and CEO of ITS Japan
explains how each time the country has hosted an ITS World Congress it has brought about major new national initiatives Q ITS Research & Development had been going on in Japan since the 1970s, but it wasn’t until the run-up to the first ITS World Congress to be staged in Japan in 1995, that there was a huge change? A
As you say, ITS in Japan started with research and development from the early 1970s and a lot was achieved. Then, in 1995, the Second World Congress was held in Yokohama. Interestingly, a Japanese researcher suggested the term ITS and of course this term has gained global currency.
The legacy of that event in Yokohama was far-reaching because the following year, in July 1996, the five government ministries and agencies then involved in ITS affairs formulated the Comprehensive Plan for Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) in Japan. Nine fields for development were defined, together with 21 services for utilisation, and a roadmap for development, practical application, and popularisation was drawn up. This ITS initiative then came to be promoted as a national project through the cooperation of industry, the government, academia, and the public. Q Can you provide some examples of the impact of this Comprehensive Plan? A
Over the next few years, steady progress in deployment and practical application occurred in a variety of fields, including traffic signal control, road risk management, and other such approaches in the field of road traffic control. There was notable progress in the field of public transportation, for example in bus location systems, Public Transportation Priority Systems (PTPS), as well as other systems. Significant advances were made in the improvement of Japan’s Vehicle Information and Communication System (VICS), and the Electronic Toll Collection system (ETC) infrastructure. Also, the utilisation of onboard equipment by ITS users shifted to the popularisation stage together with car navigation systems and Advanced Safety Vehicles (ASV). The use of data communications functions on mobile telephones was also begun in the field of telematics services. So the Comprehensive Plan achieved a lot. Q Japan next hosted the ITS World Congress in Nagoya in 2004. Did it too act as a catalyst for major advancement of national initiatives? A
Very much so. ITS Japan was convened in Nagoya at that time, and our members, comprising concerned parties in industry, the government, and academia, evaluated the issues that still remained after the practical application and popularisation that had taken place as a result of the Comprehensive Plan introduced eight years previously. They compiled the Guidelines for ITS Promotion, in which these issues were organised under the basic concepts of Safety and Security, Environment and Efficiency, and Comfort and Convenience. Subsequent developments came to be referred to as the Second Stage. Q Can you highlight some of the Second Stage achievements? A
Popularisation of VICS and ETC proceeded rapidly and reached the point of becoming standard equipment in motor vehicles. New initiatives were begun on a platform formed from the infrastructure for such services as well as the on-oard equipment that had been popularised. In January 2006, the government formulated its New IT Reform Strategy, and the development and practical application of collaborative safe driving support systems took on further momentum with the aim of achieving “The world’s leading safe and secure society.”
Under the Council for Science and Technology Policy, “Pioneering Projects for Acceleration Social Return” carried on field tests of model cities and model transport routes aimed at achieving a low-carbon transport society. In the Second Stage, not only were users provided the convenience of driving optimal routes and passing smoothly through toll collection booths, but there were also social benefits from resolving congestion, reducing traffic accidents, and reducing the environmental burden.
On the business side, markets have formed for onboard equipment concerned primarily with Comfort and Convenience, such as car navigation systems and ETC, and these markets are worth hundreds of billions of yen annually. As the employment of information and communications, electronic settlement, electronic control, and other technologies becomes firmly established in the transportation field, the acceptance of new services, including telematics services and preventive safety functions for motor vehicles, and new technologies has increased among the general public. Still further growth of these markets is anticipated. Q Looking at last year’s ITS World Congress in Tokyo, was it again used as a springboard for development of ITS initiatives in Japan? A
A lot has happened since Japan hosted the ITS World Congress in Nagoya in 2004. For example, the most obvious event that has had a fundamental effect on transport and transport systems as well as infrastructure (and not just roads but also energy supply issues) was the Great East Japan Earthquake and the nuclear power plant accident that occurred in March 2011. The issues and implications for ITS systems have caused significant change already and have shaped how we view the future and how we need to plan. But there are other less headline-grabbing changes since 2004, some of which are very significant.
To take just one example, in Japan, as is probably the case in many developed countries, the number of deaths from traffic accidents is continuing to decline, but the decrease has slowed. Significantly, the composition of accident types has been changing. Approximately half of the fatalities are elderly people who were walking or riding bicycles when the accidents occurred, and the percentage of accidents that take place on neighbourhood streets is increasing.
The implications for the ITS sector are obvious. Nationwide accident countermeasures used to be uniformly focused on major roads and expressways. In addition to that, however, it is now necessary to proceed systematically with local initiatives to analyse accident causes and formulate countermeasures according to actual circumstances in the areas where people live their everyday lives, where systematic measures have not been pursued to date. In terms of technology, too, development up to now has concentrated on technologies that are effective in vehicle-to-vehicle accidents - new technologies oriented to pedestrians and bicycles will have to be developed. Q Is there a new comprehensive plan to address such issues going forward? A
There is a vision! Coinciding with last year’s ITS World Congress in Tokyo, ITS Japan produced a document that outlines our vision of the transport society of Japan in the year 2030. It fully takes into account the issues, such as the above example, and current circumstances involving transportation in Japan as well as projected changes in society and technology. It also presents our vision of the role that should be played by ITS in achieving the transport society of 2030 and it is available for download as a PDF document from our website – www.its-jp.org/english/files/2013/10/ITS-future-vision_e_140130.pdf
It’s a very comprehensive analysis where we are aiming to realise a society in which anyone can travel comfortably anywhere in the year 2030. In addition to having resolved today’s transportation issues and social issues, this will be a transport society that supports more prosperous lifestyles for individuals, with freedom and diversity, together with expansion of the activities of a vigorous society and economy in urban and regional areas as well as globally. Furthermore, it will be a transport society that minimises damage even when natural disasters that cannot be foreseen or controlled occur, and realises lives of Safety and Security in harmonious coexistence with society and nature.
This transport society in 2030 will achieve three major objectives: people-friendly mobility that offers freedom and diversity; mobility that contributes to the expansion of activity in society; and realises mobility that coexists harmoniously with society and nature.
The PDF document not only explains the objectives and elements, it details the role of ITS in realising the Transport Society of 2030 and provides a detailed view of the ITS services to be realised and deployed in the future. ?