Smart Mobility Empowers Cities: ITS World Congress 2019 Singapore

November 12, 2019
By Elizabeth Zealand

Modii's Founder, Elizabeth Zealand, attended the 26th Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) World Congress in Singapore during late October. This year’s theme for the world’s leading transport technology congress was “Smart Mobility, Empowering Cities.”

The five-day Congress was a great chance to find out what’s happening in the world of Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS), showcase the latest transport technologies and network with ITS leaders. Elizabeth also got the chance to sit in the Volocopter, an electric air taxi that made its first public showcase over Marina Bay during the Congress.

Elizabeth travelled to Singapore not only to introduce Modii to more industry experts but also as a rapporteur on the topic of Multimodal Transport of People & Goods. She attended sessions on cybersecurity, connected vehicles and intelligent infrastructure. Here are some insights she gained from her trip.

The Volocopter, an electric air taxi that made its first public showcase over Marina Bay during the Congress

Day 1

  • Every mode and movement of transport is to be respected equally in the multimodal ecosystem - it’s not just about cars and public transport, pedestrians are part of the ecosystem too.
  • Cybersecurity is becoming increasingly important and needs to be designed into ITS systems at their core. As systems become more intelligent, digital and distributed, the vulnerability of the system to a hacker or malware increases.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the application of machine learning for recognising the mode, vehicle or pedestrian type is improving trip planning certainty to better facilitate multimodal journeys.
  • Both connected and autonomous vehicles can utilise the surrounding technology of sensors, IoT, AI, and deep learning to further develop.
  • 5G connectivity is being seen as a game-changer for real-time data exchange in transit.
Spot Parking CEO Elizabeth Zealand inside the Volocopter, an electric air taxi that made its first public showcase over Marina Bay during the Congress

Day 2

  • Both physical and digital infrastructure is required to have a truly integrated and connected system to better support multimodal journeys.
  • It’s time to reclaim the streets - solve pedestrian safety and wellbeing and not driver convenience.
  • “Autonomous vehicles are ready. Roads and Governments are not.” - PTV Group.
  • The liveability of a city can be enhanced by its transport. Social outcomes of multimodal travel such as social equity, wellbeing and environment are increasingly being measured.
  • MaaS implementations in rural or disadvantaged communities are not about the technology - it’s about engaging with the community to understand the use cases for their travel and therefore the best solutions.
  • “On average, people will live ten years past their ability to drive.” - Valerie Lefler, Feonix - Mobility Rising.
  • A hub model using microtransit for last-mile delivery is needed for urban freight deliveries.
  • “The new reality is we don’t go to the store – the store comes to us” - Richard Easley.
  • A “third speed” vehicle class is being created in the microtransit space. It’s faster than walking, slower than cars, which will require re-purposing of footpath infrastructure.
  • Smart Ports - kerb management for freight delivery by creating flexible zones, allowing for loading zones to become something else at certain times of the day.

Day 4 & Day 5

  • With the rise of micromobility services like scooters and bikes, the management of infrastructure needs to change. Additionally, the explosion of home delivery services and e-commerce and the way we treat last-mile freight solutions also needs to change.
  • Both traffic and transport services need to be combined to get a better picture of what’s happening and what solutions can improve congestion.
  • The benefits of connected and autonomous vehicles are exponentially commensurate to the density of the deployment of such vehicles and they can only operate if the digital infrastructure is in place to manage kerbside usage.
  • Big data from intermodal journeys is also informing better route planning. Telecommunications data is also being used in conjunction with public transport data where companies can actually tell whether a journey was made by walking, by driving or on a bus.
  • The notion of a digital city to inform transport planning and management extends to the build infrastructure people use on a journey. To manage an incident correctly or advise people on the best journey for them to take requires knowing how people travel. For instance, is the lift working at the railway station so a person in a wheelchair or with a pram can access the train platform.
  • Most of the design development in automated vehicles is around multiperson use. It’s not foreseen that ubiquitous autonomous single-use vehicles will be either palatable or affordable.
  • WSP Australia outlined a place centric approach to transport technology deployment. A street is a place for humans it’s not just a part of the journey and increasingly modern city design has to stop prioritising vehicle transit when designing urban corridors.

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