ITS World Congress – A resounding success for Melbourne

RACV RoyalAuto magazine

Students from Mater Christi Colleague Year 9 Robotics team

The 2016 ITS World Congress was the largest international association conference held in Australia this year and the second largest international association conference ever held in Melbourne, thanks to the support of RACV members.

Having expected 7000 international and interstate delegates, I was astounded that over the week of the 23rd World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems (10-14 October) that 11,496 delegates attended.

Not only was this a great reflection on host ITS Australia’s organisational skills in producing a first-class program including technical tours, vehicle and infrastructure demonstrations, networking and events but it was also recognition of Melbourne as a destination of choice.

Many delegates admitted that if they were going to travel to one conference in 2016, it was going to be to the ITS World Congress because Australia was a trip of a lifetime.

We were also delighted with the quality of delegates as well as quantity.

PM opens congress

The World Congress was opened by the Honourable Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister of Australia with strong support from Victorian Government including multiple engagements for Ministers Luke Donnellan, Jacinta Allan, Robin Scott and Treasurer Tim Pallas.

Prior to the official opening, Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Darren Chester hosted a High Level Policy Roundtable, an invitation-only meeting for 52 international Ministers, Mayors and Senior Executives. There was also good representation from interstate and local Governments with South Australia Minister Stephen Mullighan, Queensland Minister Mark Bailey, New Zealand Minister Simon Bridges and Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Robert Doyle in attendance throughout the week.

RACV connects

As Premier Partner, RACV and Intelematics were heavily involved in the Congress, opening our data pool for the Smart Cities Hackathon, displaying vehicle technology as a demonstration partners, and contributing on many levels including Intelematics Director of Strategy, Adam Game presenting at the Connectivity and Big Data Plenary session.

RACV and Intelematics were one of the 278 exhibiting organisations and as Chair of the World Congress Board of Directors, I had multiple speaking engagements.

The Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) was instrumental in securing the World Congress for Melbourne and CEO, Karen Bolinger, said the outcomes will have a lasting impact on the local and global community.

“To exceed the overall visitor target is testament to the collaborative effort of our city. These results are only possible thanks to the support of the Victorian State Government, City of Melbourne, MCEC and our partners across the travel sector. It is a real example of the power of Team Melbourne.”

MCB estimate the five-day event benefited the local economy to the tune of $25 million.  

Businesses benefit

The benefit to business will be considerable judging by the number of partnerships, agreements and Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs) signed during the Congress.

For example, the South Australia Government announced a $10 million investment into connected, autonomous car technology, and US company Peloton Technology and the Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative (ADVI) announcing an industry partnership to explore truck platooning safety and fuel efficiency.

Melbourne-based companies Microlistics (warehouse management system) and Smart Trans (transport and field services specialist) announced significant contracts while ITS Australia and Contra Costa Transportation Authority and GoMentum Station (USA), and VicRoads and the Intelligent Transport Society of Korea signed significant MOUs.

The Congress numbers were sizable across the board. Delegates came from 73 countries to hear 663 speakers in 236 sessions at the Melbourne Convention Centre.

Delegates visited Melbourne’s traffic and transport network centres on 17 technical tours and Intelematics was one of 14 demonstration partners providing 3,618 vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure technology experiences from the MCEC car park, along Clarendon Street’s ‘Connected Urban Corridor’ and at Albert Park.

Schools in attendance

But perhaps the number I’m most satisfied with is the 2437 public day and schools program attendees.

Many RACV members took advantage of the two Open for Public days and the three City of Melbourne, Melbourne Conversation, discussions.

School students filled the concourse with their smart city, transport and solar vehicle challenge projects and it was wonderful to see a congress dedicated to next generation technology so well attended by next generation ITS professionals.

ITS Australia CEO Susan Harris said it was important for the Congress to meet the needs of delegates, partners and supporters, but also to be open and inclusive.

“ITS is increasingly about the user experience and it was important to provide the community with an opportunity to find out more about ITS Australia members and the global industry.

“The ITS industry is wide and diverse and we were also pleased to celebrate initiatives to support diversity in the ITS community and to create a network opportunity for ITS industry members from diverse backgrounds and contexts.”

The Congress concluded on Friday 14 October, with the traditional passing of the World Congress Globe, from Melbourne to Montreal, host city of the 2017 event.

To find out more about ITS Australia, visit www.its-australia.com.au

By Brian Negus, General Manager Public Policy RACV, President ITS Australia and former Chair, World Congress Board of Directors