Expert Panel Outline

The Wireless Revolution and the Transformation of Transport
Wednesday, 26 May 2010 - 16.00-17.30 - Hall 3
Panel Summary and Conclusions
The wireless revolution has not only affected how individuals communicate with each other, but also how people, goods and services move around the globe. The session explored the following questions:
  • What is the full potential of wireless technologies, and how do we realise it?
  • What is the particular potential of cooperative vehicle systems to introduce new road safety gains, as well as other benefits?
  • How can governments facilitate the introduction of these technologies? What are the costs and who shall bear the costs?
  • What are the challenges, in terms of new risks and liability?
  • What about privacy and data protection?
  • John Horsley, Executive Director, AASHTO
  • Wolfgang Höfs, Head, ICT for Transport, European Commission
  • Takayuki Oba, Director, ITS Policy, Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
  • Eric Sampson, Professor, Newcastle & City Universities, UK
  • T. Russell Shields, Chairman, Ygomi LLC
  • Carlo van de Weijer, Vice President Business Development, TomTom International
The session focused on both the opportunities and challenges presented by wireless technologies, with a view to assessing how we might overcome the latter to realise the former.

Wireless technology has the potential to impact on many aspects of transport, including road safety and congestion. Wireless applications can improve the information available to drivers and other road users on potential dangers and facilitate direct intervention by vehicle systems to prevent crashes.

Wireless applications can also do much to improve road freight operations and fleet management, including inter-modal linkages and customs processes, by providing real-time information regarding vehicle and product location. This has important implications for increasing reliability and efficiency and compliance of truck operations with safety and environmental regulations.

Wireless technology has a promising role to play in managing congestion and promoting alternative modes of transport, with mobile communications systems serving as probes to monitor traffic or providing real-time information on other modes' availability. Drivers can receive, for example, information regarding road conditions, allowing them to make better decisions on routes and the timing of their operations. However, driver distraction may also result from these technologies, and this risk is receiving renewed attention.

Wireless applications can also play a key role in road pricing and in transport payment in general.

These are just some of the possibilities. Many others can be envisaged or imagined. In the longer term, wireless communication could reduce the role of the driver, and thus potentially allow for safer operations by reducing susceptibility to human error.

However, a number of key challenges remain to be addressed. The wireless transmission of information raises questions about privacy and the protection of data. Increasing reliance on technology raises issues of legal responsibility in the case of crashes or other unforeseen consequences. Finally, there is also a question of the infrastructure required to support these new technologies, including satellites, and who should pay for putting it in place.
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