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ITS in focus

ITS in focus

The ongoing digitalisation of logistics and shipping continues to drive ideas forward for ­intelligent transport systems (ITS). The global initiators of ITS may meet in Hamburg in 2021.

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The concept of ITS may sound abstract, but today it is really important in the development of the transport and logistics industry. They stand for digital mobility concepts for goods as well as people, and cover all aspects of transport infrastructure, information and vehicles systems.

Activities in this field have been going on in the Asia-Pacific region since the 1990s. Today, more than 100 partners from the public sector, private enterprise and various fields of science have joined up in Ertico-ITS Europe, headquartered in Brussels. The companies that initiated the effort come from eight different sectors, with the telecommunications and automobiles industries particularly well-represented, and are seeking to establish improved solutions for mobility.

The northern German city of Hamburg is applying to host the annually held ITS world congress – where new solutions for transport systems are presented and discussed – in 2021. A glance at the list of cities that have recently hosted the event – Montreal 2017, Copenhagen 2018, Singa­pore 2019 – shows that logistics metropolises, above all, are interested in staging this global meeting.

Frank Horch, Hamburg’s minister for the economy, transport and innovation explained that a unified ITS approach creates new opportunities, as stakeholders can receive support for activities that usually only get limited public or private economic support. However, the crucial element is encapsulated in the fact that this approach combines all aspects of mobi­lity – transport traffic and logistics – and develops solutions that are efficient, intelligent and sustainable. It’s more than a strategy – it is a whole new philosophy. The Senator stated: intelligent traffic systems enable intermodal solutions that ship the goods right into the depot, which means an outstanding potential.

He also said that ITS do not compete with existing efforts, but rather cooperate with them. For instance, they are in close dialogue with the Hamburg logistics initiative, which also advocates their ITS-­related activities and contributes some rather important basic elements to the ITS concept, in the education and training segment, amongst others.

Hamburg’s port economy has already got far with its digital approach: the Hamburg port authority’s initiative for smart port logistics is considered to be a pioneer. This means an intelligent solution for the flow of goods and vehicles – namely the port of Hamburg’s so-called ‘roads’ scheme, which stands for ‘roadwork administration and decision system’. An electronic map shows planned transport sector building works several years in advance, and in such a way that one can easi­ly recognise the impact on the traffic flow and minimise it. This great facilitation of planning and coordination ­efforts between partners is not a mere one-off. The Hamburg Vessel Coordination Center (HVCC) offers the port the same service for maritime and feeder ships as well as inland barges. These examples show how many oppor­tunities there are for logistics.

Hamburg expects a great pull effect in the city as well as in its greater region if the city gets the opportunity to hold the ITS world congress in 2021. The city administration wants to increase services in the field of ­inland water­ways, and also comes to an under­standing for mutual support with ITS France and the inland port of Strasbourg. One of the city’s goals is a network of pan-European goods centres as a platform for continental logistics.

The ITS framework allows Hamburg to make the best of its traditionally close links to Central and Eastern European, through corridors that reach all the way to Russia. Shanghai, a key Chinese gateway to Europe, is one of Hamburg’s partner cities. The international impulses that an ITS world congress in Hamburg would send out in 2021 would thus reach very far. The decision will be taken in Montreal at the end of October.

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