The ITS World Congress 2021 is being held this week in Hamburg, Germany. With Australians unable to travel this year, we're taking the time to talk to some of our friends and colleagues in the industry who are on the ground in Hamburg. First up, ITS Australia's Policy Manager, Stacey Ryan, chats with Andy Taylor, Senior Strategy Director at Cubic Transportation Systems as he prepares for Day 1 of the Congress.
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Andy: I'm Andy Taylor. I'm the Senior Director of Strategy for Cubic Transportation Systems, and I'm here at the ITS World Congress in Hamburg.
Stacey: So what are you most looking forward to at this particular Congress?
Andy: So what am I looking forward to the most? I think it's the personal interactions, more than anything else. We've been exchanging emails with everybody. And my schedule seems to be full of meeting people who have coffee, or meeting people for drinks or catching up over lunch and dinner. I think everybody's so excited to actually get back out there and start talking face-to-face with people. There's a lot you can do virtually there's a lot you can do via email, but there's a lot more you can do when you're face to face with people.
Stacey: Yeah, I feel that, we all feel that in Australia. I know Cubic have a have a stand, and you've been promoted as being on that stand. So what are you there to talk about? And are you presenting?
Andy: From the Cubic stand, we actually have a presentation about traffic management platform, which is the genesis of the integrated congestion management program which is running in Sydney. So we're very much showcasing the work we've been doing in Sydney, and how we're helping improve the coordination of traffic and public transportation in that region. So we want to showcase that to the world. And this is the best event to try and get that out there. From my side, personally, I'm actually speaking on a few events this week. The schedule is absolutely packed with discussions on Mobility as a Service and Mobility on Demand. And today, I've been asked to give a speech on the effects of green transportation and equity when it comes to Mobility as a Service. I'm presenting on that this morning. And then on Thursday, we're having a big discussion on Mobility as a Service 2.0 and the rise the city, so how are cities taking back mobility? How are they taking control of their networks? And how are they providing better mobility networks to their citizens, which are more flexible and adaptable to changes within the ecosystem?
Stacey: So every year at Congress, we see something that's the same and something that we didn't expect. Obviously, this has been a new year, and we've missed one. What do you what are you seeing that same, same? And what is surprising?
Andy: So what am I seeing that's the same? It's just the excitement of people. Yesterday I was at Amsterdam Airport connecting up to Hamburg and we were all in the departure lounge waiting to get on board the flight and everybody was there with their ITS magazines. Everybody scanning through looking at the schedules, everybody's trying to figure out which program they're going to go to. And there's that recognition, even though everybody's masked up, and you can't see everybody's faces, it's the recognition of colleagues that you haven't seen for nearly two years now. It was amazing just how excited people are to get here and start talking about the subjects again, and start really interacting with each other. So that was nice to see. We will see when it comes to testing, it's a case of I have to go and get tested this morning and go and get my wristband so I can access. I've yet to see how it's going to work out on the actual congress floor, I know that they'd be very careful putting extra space between all the booths. So we'll see how that works out. But there's a really good vibe, it's nice to see everybody coming back and it's nice to get that community feel within ITS again.
Stacey: You're talking about a jam-packed program. Is there anything there that you've seen that is new and special or have things dropped. Is it MaaS 2.0? Are we seeing an end to the highlight of MaaS, are moving into something new?
Andy: So looking at the schedule, there's quite a few things which are which leap out more than anything else? I think that whole MaaS 2.0 discussion and the evolution of MaaS is very much forefront? I think we're seeing a lot of discussions around the actual business models, and how do you actually make MaaS work? If you look at the Gartner hype cycle, I think we've all gone through the peak of the peak of interest within Mobility as a Service. And we're crashing down into that trough of disillusionment at the moment. But how do we get back out there? How do we make it work? And I think that's the key discussion I'm looking forward to this week. From the from the other side as well. The evolution of platforms, the coalescence of data and sharing of data between stakeholders seems to be prevalent on a lot of the discussion panels which are happening this week. So how do we bring together these platforms? How do we get them to share? How do we get them to become interoperable? How do we get the management and ownership and sharing of data and creation of information? How do we get that into the end user so they can make more informed decisions about how they move around the landscape? And I think it's digital mobility, how we bring everything together. That's what I'm looking forward to try and get people's perspectives on this week.
Stacey: One of the discussions we've been having down here is around the availability and applicability of data sharing. Is that something that you're seeing on the program? Is that something that you're discussing in Europe, in the States as well?
Andy: So with regards to data sharing, it's an interesting topic and it's evolving fairly quickly. I think there's the realisation that siloed data doesn't win for anybody? Trying to overly monetize data doesn't work for anybody, either. How can we provide access to information and data, while still retaining some degree of control, opening it up to actually make it usable and informative for people to help improve their operations? We have a lot of data that's inherently built into these platforms, but unless we can actually open up and have conversations about having a shared ecosystem, we're just going keep hitting the same roadblocks again, and again, and again. So this week, I want to see what new ways we've got of sharing data, how we can really bring together this shorter shared ecosystem, and how can we make it better for the traveller at the end of the day? In the ITS Industry we always talk about, how are we going to make it good for the city or the public agency that wants to use these systems to make better services. But we forget at the end of the day, the city is there for the actual consumer, the traveller at the end of the day? So we need to start thinking in that mindset, how do we make it easier for the traveller to move around? How do we take the stress and friction out of moving around the urban ecosystem?
Stacey: You mentioned earlier that you're talking about, or are presenting on, the equity of MaaS or on-demand transport? It seems to be the new gold standard. It's not the shiny technology that's looking for a problem to solve, but how is it accessible? How is it equitable? You've seen that change over the last few years? How is that being deployed or talked about at Congress.
Andy: When it comes to equity in transport, the discussion has been going on for several years and I think it's, it's very much come to the front now, because of the work that we've seen in the whole Mobility as a Service area. The initial discussions have all been targeted to the people with smartphones and credit cards. And that's great if you're a mass operator, if you're a commercial entity, but if you're a city you have the responsibility to provide public transportation to 100% of the population. That includes the ones with a bank accounts or smartphones. So that's what's driving this equity discussion. Cities only want to engage if you know that they can provide services for 100% of the population. So that's what's driving this equity and accessibility discussion. And then layer on that now with the everything that's going on this year in Europe with COP26 in Glasgow, and the sustainability discussion. It's very much focused on policy delivery for cities instead of the technology. I've always said technology is not the blocker here. It's a case of how we can combine the policies and the goals of the different stakeholders. That's what's actually going to drive us forward on this.
Stacey: You mentioned COP26. Sustainability, emissions management. Transport is one of the biggest emitters, but it's also one of the biggest opportunities to make changes. What do you anticipate to be the discussions around that at Congress?
Andy: When it comes to sustainability, and how we can actually make the ITS business more efficient? It is one of the biggest polluters, but it's actually got the benefit to be one of the biggest contributors to making sustainability different. What I'm seeing, and it's an interesting topic area, and there's going to be a number of different views this week. It's a case of how can we change the mindset of people to become more sustainable? And from my perspective, it's all very well talking about electric vehicles and electrification of the fleet. But if I electrify one car, I've still got that car on the road. So how do we change this mindset of car ownership and reliance on a car be it electric, or be it internal combustion engine? How do we break that cycle of reliance? How do we get people's mindsets into multimodal solutions? Yes, we can optimise the road network and yes, we can optimise intersections to try and reduce idling greenhouse gases. Yes, we can try and promote people to travel that better speeds which are more efficient. But how do we give people better options for mobility? That's the key thing now and that's a discussion, I think that's going to be quite high on the agenda this week.
Stacey: Yeah, we’re behind the eight-ball in those discussions in this country, but we're getting there eventually. I think. We want to get guys to get back here and we're planning for Summit next year and a few other conferences, so what do you hope to bring back to Australia? You've been very keen, both engager and cheerleader for our National Reference Committee for MaaS. So what do you want to bring back to the country as a as a present for us?
Andy: So what do I want to bring back to Australia as a president, I want to get down there as soon as I can, and just tell everybody what's been going on in the rest of the world. It's not the same, being remote being having video and digital links, it works slightly, but there's nothing like that in person contact and that's what I'm desperate to get back down there for. There's a lot of stuff that's been going on in terms of Mobility as a Service, in terms of platform evolution, digital mobility, sustainability. I think there's a lot that we can bring to the next ITS Summit, and then National Reference Committee for MaaS with ITS Australia. I think there's a lot of areas of commonality. But there's some very distinct, unique ways that Australia operates that needs to be engaged in this global discussion, so we're not creating stovepipe systems again. And that's what I really want to do, is get back down there start talking about how we can bring Australia into this discussion, how can we make it more engaged? How can we make Australia one of the leading voices in the way things should be going? I've said time and time again, if Mobility as a Service is going to work, it's going to work in Australia first. And I think some of the work that's going on in Sydney and Brisbane, and Melbourne as well, it's a case of they're really thinking about this, about how you manage the whole mobility ecosystem. How do you manage the road network and public transportation together? And how do you provide better mobility services? So I want to get down there and tell everybody what I've been doing, but at the same time, I want to learn what you guys have been doing as well over the last couple of years. It's nice having video conferences, but there's nothing like getting down there and seeing the first person
Stacey: It’s true. We can't wait to have you guys. And reciprocally, we can't wait to leave too. Is there anything you want to leave us with, anything that you're particularly focused on over there, anything you've learned over the last few years that we haven't seen you that we haven't heard from? Give us all you got.
Andy: What I've been focused on this morning is how to tie a tie again. I haven't had to put a tie on in two years and this is my fifth attempt and I'm still not convinced it’s right. Today it's a case of being focused on getting through and getting my testing band getting all my certificates sorted. And then I just want to get out there and start talking to people and meeting people again. There's an excitement in the air. This week's going to be a very busy week for everybody catching up with everybody. So it's, it's going to be fun. And I'm just really sorry that the, you know, everybody from Australia couldn't be here as well this week.
Stacey: I feel that Andy and I'm impressed with your tie. I was. I didn't want to say anything. When I first like saw you. I was like, Oh my god, I haven't seen you wearing a tie for a long time.
Andy: I'm still not convinced it’s central so I'm panicking.
Stacey: Normally, I see you and it's like three in the morning in Washington. I think that's going make everyone very sad when they hear that because they are wanting to be on the floor so much. But enjoy, and we can't wait to see you next year. And if not here then in LA. Okay. Thanks, Andy. Really appreciate it.