Transit tech's future showcased at ITS World Congress

Posted on April 14, 2014 by Scott Belcher - Also by this author

The Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress only occurs in the Americas once every three years and this Sept. 7 to 11 our industry returns to its origins. Five months from now in Detroit, 10,000 of the world’s high tech transportation leaders will gather to discuss and showcase the technologies that are driving the future of transportation.

In 1913 Henry Ford changed the industrial world forever with the Model-T production line. It is entirely appropriate that 101 years later, we’re headed to Detroit to help develop the next iteration of the transportation industry.

At the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), our members are developing life-saving, technology-based safety systems that will dramatically reduce the number of non-impaired crashes on our roadways and other technologies that allow police and first responders to address traffic emergencies faster and more efficiently. These are critically important but equally important to me are the leaps in innovation being made in America’s transit industry, advances that impact millions of people every day.

As previously reported in METRO Magazine, our friends at the American Public Transportation Association studied ridership across the nation and reported 2.7 billion trips were taken in the second quarter of 2013. That’s nearly nine trips for every man, woman and child in the U.S. representing 31 million more trips than in the same period in 2012. Public transportation ridership seems to be growing stronger and the statistics clearly spell out the long-term viability of the transit industry as well as the need for increased efficiency and safety across the board. That’s where intelligent transportation comes in.

The ITS World Congress will be held at Detroit's Cobo Center, shown here, from Sept. 7 to 11.
The ITS World Congress will be held at Detroit's Cobo Center, shown here, from Sept. 7 to 11.

For example, GPS and route matching software are allowing transit systems to monitor usage while delivering accurate bus and van arrival times to passengers. This is critical in designing transit routes that make sense while maximizing seat usage.

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology has made a point of incorporating the transit sector in its studies on connected vehicle technology. Not only is the agency interested in the collision avoidance aspects of these systems, particularly given blind spots and other special situations unique to transit operators, they’re also considering the impact of greenhouse gas emissions by asking the question, could more efficient routes cut down on idling and ultimately, pollutants being emitted into the atmosphere?

This September in Detroit, there will be a lot of attention paid to all of these “wow” technologies, including those focused specifically on America’s transit industry. Held at Detroit’s newly refurbished Cobo Center, the ITS World Congress  will draw the world’s leading transportation policymakers, researchers, high-tech innovators, and business professionals from more than 65 countries to share the latest intelligent transportation systems (ITS) applications from around the globe.

The World Congress will also feature ITS America’s Annual Meeting and Exposition, which will host an interactive Technology Showcase on Michigan’s Belle Isle, more than 250 programmatic panels, roundtables, and interactive town hall sessions, a 300,000 square-foot exhibition hall, and numerous networking and media events.

Detroit is America’s original Motor City and very few places in the world have the concentration of transportation companies, research institutions and deploying agencies that this city does. We’re also extremely excited because this is the first time that an ITS World Congress will take place at an international border crossing that will allow us to show how ITS assists in moving people and goods safely and efficiently between two countries. Detroit and its Canadian neighbor Windsor, Ontario, are an integrated hub for the highway, commercial vehicle and transit industries. The Ambassador Bridge that connects these two cities is the biggest international crossing in North America in terms of trade volume, and more than 25% of all merchandise trade crosses the bridge between the U.S. and Canada.

Detroit has become a major and growing center for intelligent transportation. In fact, Michigan is home to 375 automotive research and development centers and this year’s ITS World Congress will showcase the most recent innovations in this industry and tell its developing story through many of those participating in the show. From connected and autonomous vehicles to advanced traffic management systems and real-time transit, commercial vehicle and freight logistics, parking and traffic apps, the ITS World Congress will demonstrate technologies that are literally changing transportation today as well as reinventing mobility for future generations.

Also at the event, CEOs from the auto world and major high-tech corporations, including Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford and Verizon Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam will be among a distinguished list of top industry and political leaders scheduled to provide keynote addresses.

At the same time, we will transform all of Michigan’s Belle Isle — a 983-acre island in the middle of the Detroit River — into a live demonstration showcase for ITS technologies, including connected and autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles, robotics, sensor technology, real-time weather and road conditions data analysis and many others.

With our special interest sessions, all-star keynotes, technology showcase, youth-focused programs and competitions, investor matching and extensive exhibition hall, we are sure to impress and inspire at every turn.

I promise you do not want to miss out on the 2014 ITS World Congress, so click here to register today and learn more by visiting

In case you missed it...

Read our METRO blog, "Apple transportation program stuck in past"

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