Susan Harris ITS Australia CEO
As the 22nd ITS World Congress wraps up in Bordeaux, it’s time to set our sights down under to Australia where Melbourne, the World's Most Liveable City for the 5th year running, is preparing to welcome an international contingent to the 23rd World Congress from 10-14 October 2016. Here, ITS Australia CEO Susan Harris provides an outline of what to expect from the event.
Q: The theme of next year’s ITS World Congress is ‘ITS – Enhancing Liveable Cities and Communities’. What is the thinking behind this theme and how will it shape the event?
Our chosen theme Enhancing Liveable Cities and Communities is a reference to what makes Australia a leading country in ITS technologies – not just in our Asia Pacific region, but across the globe. With one of the leading information technology industries within the Asia Pacific region, Melbourne in particular is the national leader, with 8,000 technology companies employing 91,300 people, earning $34 billion in revenue annually based in the country's south-eastern state.
Additionally, Melbourne boasts the world’s largest continually operating tram network. Proudly, our integrated tram, train and bus network is free within the CBD, providing World Congress visitors with the opportunity to experience our tram tracker service and other real-time traveller information services – very much a theme that is enhancing our community!
Q: How is the technology demonstration programme shaping up?
One year out from the Congress, we are already working with industry leaders such as BMW, Bosch, Cohda Wireless, Intelematics, Kapsch and Q-Free to deliver a high-calibre demonstrations programme with our demonstration partner, Transport Certification Australia. I have no doubt that the high quality of the demonstrations will extend the boundaries of what we have seen before at a World Congress.
The demonstrations will be held at the Australian Grand Prix circuit around Albert Park Lake, only a short 10-minute drive from the world class Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre.
Q: It sounds like the demonstrations program will take things to the next level! Can you provide Bordeaux delegates with a flavour of what visitors to Melbourne can expect?
We’re currently working on securing a strong line-up of high profile industry leaders and ministerial keynote speakers, and visitors to Melbourne will enjoy a number of planned events across the ITS technology space, as well as several social events to see the sights of Melbourne and add a bit of fun to their time in the country.
Our technical tour programme will not only showcase world leading transport and technology facilities in Melbourne but will extend to provide a pre-conference ITS tour in Auckland, New Zealand. Post -congress, delegates will have an opportunity to extend the congress experience with a Technical Tour of the Sydney Harbour Bridge traffic operations.
We are also very proud of our student engagement programme. This commenced with our scholarship initiative, fostering young ITS professionals and scholars from across Asia Pacific in our ITS Future Innovators Club. In Melbourne this will include engaging with primary and secondary school students, building interest, awareness and capability with students challenged to develop model automated vehicles to be showcased at the World Congress.
ITS Australia is particularly passionate about our student program that will give future ITS innovators and other students access to world leaders and resources to shape the future of transport technology internationally.
Q: Is it safe to say that you are planning an equally ambitious social programme?
Understandably, Australia can be considered a fair distance to travel, so why not make it a family trip? Along with the official events and activities of the Congress, we are also planning some additional social functions around the city, including a Twilight Aussie Barbeque at the Melbourne Zoo; and a Great Chefs’ tour that will take you deep into the city’s culinary underbelly will be one not to miss! Our Gala dinner will extend to include a secret bar-hopping tour to some of Melbourne’s best hidden cocktail lounges, bars and clubs in the historic docklands precinct!
Q: Finally, what do you hope the legacy of this ITS World Congress will be?
Hosting a successful event in Sydney at the 2001 World Congress 15 years ago, we will be sure to build on that experience and follow suit with a bigger and even better event in Melbourne in 2016.
There is definitely a huge potential for ITS technologies to accommodate the growing demand for transport in Melbourne, complemented with strong public acceptance of new technology. Beyond that we hope that Melbourne will provide a foundation to increase deployment of ITS technology in the Asia Pacific region with strong support already from leading Asia Pac organisations such as Honda, Forum8 and Toyota.