Making Transport Seamless Through Technology

By David Knight |

Sometimes we use the most amazing technology for the most inane of reasons – adopting worldwide connectivity, for example, to play a Pictionary-type game with your friends when and where you like (something, incidentally, which is apparently worth quite a bit of money).

But there are also incredibly important areas of society where not enough is made of this technology. In May, the International Transport Forum (ITF) will be looking to address that problem with its annual summit, this year entitled ‘Seamless Transport: Making Connections.’

As globalisation marches on and people and goods around the world are on the move like never before, transport is one of the key issues facing us today. The ITF is an intergovernmental organisation linked to the OECD which has 53 member countries.

And the 2012 summit – being held in Leipzig from May 2-4 – is a vital one, with China participating as a full member for the first time. Dozens of transport ministers and industry leaders will gather to help frame the future of transport, and these people are the ones who need to be exposed to what technology can bring to the table.

Changing Traditional Transport

Indeed, the ITF itself defines seamless transport as “the convergence of traditional infrastructure and the digital age.” The ways in which technology is changing ‘traditional’ methods of transport are already apparent, be it through do-it-yourself street rentals of bikes or cars, or making flying a paperless experience.

But technology can still do an awful lot more. The summit schedule was launched yesterday at a media lunch in Berlin attended by Silicon Allee at which Hans Michael Kloth, acting secretary general of the ITF, and Dr. Andreas Scheuer, parliamentary secretary of state at Germany’s Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development (BMVBS) spoke about their aims for the summit.

CSU politician Scheuer named safety and innovation as essential features of transport in the future – including a package of measures to improve the safety of cruise ships through improved global standardization.

Kloth, meanwhile, emphasised the importance of “traditional transport structure coming together with the digital world.” The summit will certainly throw up the right audience for that – transport heavyweights who will be there include European Commissioner for Transport Siim Kallas, Koji Sekimizu, general secretary of the International Maritime Organisation, Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo and Deutsche Bahn CEO Rüdiger Grube.

Connectivity Across Borders

Panel discussions at the event, meanwhile, have titles including ‘Investing in Connectivity,’ ‘The Future of Travel: E-Ticketing, Smartphones, Data Sharing’ and ‘Connectivity Across Borders.’

Technology will undoubtedly be the key theme running through the summit – and what better place to host it than in Germany, where innovation and transport already have a track record of coming together.

Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer said: “Germany is providing important impetus worldwide to transport innovation in all areas. I want to advance that. I am also, however, excited about new ideas and concepts being successfully implemented in other countries. Whether by land, by sea or in the air – in all areas of transport, we must pursue the goal of making mobility safe and sustainable.”