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ITS events vital forum for networking, calls to action

First publishedin ITS International
2011 July August
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ITS World Congress in Orlando Emergency Responder Day

Tom Kern, executive VP of ITS America, on why he believes events like the forthcoming ITS World Congress are so important for the industry

This October's World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems is coming home. Home to Orlando, that is. The first America's-based World Congress took place in Orlando in 1996 and now, 15 years later, the sixth Americas World Congress and 18th overall returns just in time to see how far Florida has come in the deployment of ITS technologies helping to make for safe, mobile, and sustainable communities.

With the return to Florida comes the opportunity also to highlight the World Congress theme: Keeping the Economy Moving.

This challenge is compelling: to use the advances and advantages of ITS to help us make governmental decisions, business priorities and personal choices, all of which will make for a prosperous economy that serves us all. And if we ITS professionals take on this challenge, then we not only keep the economy moving, we'll have redefined our transportation systems once and for all - those that are truly integrated and
multimodal, managed to use financial resources and system
capacity effectively, performance-based and customer-focused

Incident and emergency responder day

In a signal that the ITS world is ever expanding, the World Congress on ITS will hold its first-ever Incident and Emergency Responder Day on Wednesday 19 October 2011 to emphasise the importance of incident and emergency management in the world's transportation system. By holding this day-long event, the World Congress hopes to encourage networking and information sharing among incident and emergency responders and transportation professionals to enhance the contribution all make to public safety and congestion management and to highlight the invaluable role that technology plays.

Cosponsored by the I-95 Corridor Coalition, the Incident and Emergency Responder Day offers the opportunity for I/ER professionals to share both their successful use of technology as well as their unmet needs so that the ITS community might be better informed and responsive to the field.

The day will consist of targeted sessions just for the Incident and Emergency Responder community, as well as technology demonstrations and training opportunities.

With the assignment to help lead the planning and execution of the Orlando World Congress under the organising committee chairmanship of Patrick McGowan, president of Telvent North America and ITS America presidency of Scott Belcher, I have been privileged to see first hand what difference a meeting of this magnitude can make for the international ITS community to achieve the goals I mentioned above.

Three significant roles

International convenings like the World Congress serve three significant roles. First, they bring together an amazing network of thousands of men and women who do ITS for a living. ITS is not work that gets done in a vacuum; none of us will function well if we do not stay connected with our peers in this 'community of practice' called intelligent transportation systems.

Networking (social or otherwise) is an overworked phrase, but its essence is still the same: likeminded people coming together in a neutral setting to share best practices, see state-of-the-art solutions, learn from other's mistakes, serve as teacher or student, and figure out how we make this work back at the office.

Second, the World Congress serves as a media moment for us to highlight, promote, even teach about smart transportation solutions beyond the ITS community to policy and decision-makers and the public. By engaging them, we remind ourselves that if we cannot convince public officials and consumers about the value of our services, neither will help mainstream these solutions to achieve their worthy aspirations.

Third, because our community is together for a week and in light of our focusing our message on policymakers and consumers, we are reminded that it is up to us to issue a call to action for all to take up. In these uncertain economic times, when we are summoned to do more with less and in what amounts to a transformational era where information technology has made the world 'flat', we must use our networks and our message to insure ITS is an equally important and seamless part of the 21st century solutions our societies and households embrace.

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Executive vice president of ITS America, Tom Kern
As executive vice president of ITS America, Tom Kern provides oversight and support for all technical programmes, business development activities, legislative initiatives, meeting planning, member sales and service, and communications. He also assists ITS America's president and CEO and board of directors regarding matters of corporate governance

Essential elements

Orlando has all the essential elements that have seen World Congresses evolve over the years.

Front and centre is a robust programme of nearly 300 sessions that reflects a global spectrum of ITS interests featuring the top thought leaders in the industry. For example, Thomas Stephens, vice chairman, General Motors Global HQ and Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor Company will open and close the 18th World Congress respectively with exciting keynote addresses that will challenge current thinking and explore new opportunities.

Of particular note will be finance sessions featuring top speakers from the investor community to complement the World Congress plenaries and the road pricing demonstrations taking place in the Technology Showcase. What new technologies and business practices are on the horizon that will revolutionise transportation while spurring economic growth? What more can governments do to encourage private-sector innovators to invest in the research, development and deployment of ITS? With invited speakers like US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, and Alcatel-Lucent CEO Ben Verwayaan, the plenaries will definitely prepare attendees for the important work of the World Congress by discussing the latest challenges and opportunities facing ITS.

A second essential element to the World Congress is its Exhibit Hall where over 200 companies and organisations will bring their latest innovative products and practices to share with Congress attendees. Then there's the Technology Showcase (see sidebar); the incorporation of the ITS America Annual Meeting in the event and a new, first-ever feature, the Incident and Emergency Responder Day (see sidebar).

Technology showcase

Something the American organisers take great pride in is the Technology Showcase. Set up in the large parking lot adjacent to the convention centre with access through the Exhibit Hall, cutting-edge ITS technology solutions will come to life as leading transportation agencies, including the US Department of Transportation, and private sector companies host live technology demonstrations in real time. Four pavilions will springboard attendee interest to more than 25 demonstration initiatives: safety, mobility, sustainability and pricing. Each will introduce its respective demos and invite observation and interaction as they take place elsewhere in the convention centre parking lot, on the roads adjacent to it or on the highways in and around greater Orlando. Expectation and interest is high for the Technology Showcase, so much so that the hours for the showcase have been extended to accommodate as many attendees as possible.

An important highlight in the Technology Showcase is the USDOT Safety Pilot and CAMP Demonstration. The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) has partnered with the Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership (CAMP) to research and develop Cooperative Vehicle Safety Systems that use 5.9GHz Dedicated Short-Range Communication (DSRC) to provide active safety systems that help drivers avoid crashes.

The CAMP Consortium consists of the Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Honda R&D Americas, Hyundai-Kia, Mercedes-Benz Research and Development North America, and Nissan and Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America. Vehicles from each manufacturer and one heavy vehicle will demonstrate the following safety applications: Emergency Electronic Brake Lights (EEBL); Forward Collision Warning (FCW); Intersection Movement Assist (IMA); Blind Spot Warning/Lane Change Warning (BSW/LCW); and Control Loss Warning (CLW).

Participants will ride along in the vehicles as they demonstrate the effectiveness of the safety applications in actual crash situations. The vehicles used in this demonstration will be part of the actual test fleet that will participate in the Safety Pilot Driver Clinics that are kicking off later this summer. The objective of this demonstration is to show that regardless of the make, model or type of vehicles, vehicle-to-vehicle safety systems work together to help drivers avoid crashes.

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Highlight in Technology showcase is USDOT safety pilot and CAMP demonstration

Companies in this article

Now known as Schenider Electric

US Department of Transportation
General Motors
ITS America
ITS World Congress

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