The Future Will Be Technology Driven: UITP’s Senior Expert Jaspal Singh Talks IT-TRANS 2022.

When the 2022 edition of IT-TRANS arrives, it will be the eighth gathering to discuss the digital revolution transforming urban mobility.

Since 2008, public transport has changed a great deal with more than a decade’s worth of innovation revolutionising our sector.

Now, from 10-12 May 2022, the pioneering concepts and digital trends dominating the headlines will be on display in Karlsruhe as part of our Conference programme and Exhibition.

Who better to talk us through the latest trends and observations than our Senior Expert on I.T. and Development – and our IT-TRANS lead – Jaspal Singh.

What’s to be expected in Karlsruhe this year? Let’s invite innovation in our sit-down conversation…

Q: Jaspal, what challenges are cities around the world facing right now? And what contribution can digitalisation make to meeting them?

The world we’re living in right now is not the world we knew when the previous physical IT-TRANS was held in 2018. It’s important to recognise that whenever gathering experts together to consider the future. The challenges our cities are facing are different now, as we look at the next steps through the impacts of a global pandemic. As devastating as Covid-19 has been for public transport in terms of ridership, revenue and movement, there are opportunities for the sector to re-evaluate what will come next. Technology will play an important role for public transport to bring back lost ridership and offer better customer experience. Our cities will become home to more people than ever before in the decades to come as urbanisation grows and populations reside closer to one another than ever before. With that comes challenges and opportunities. We need our cities to be as accessible and sustainable as possible, built around the people who inhabit them. That future belongs to ecological and smart city concepts that combine mobility, sustainability and smart, intelligent concepts. If we combine all options, then we can foster innovative solutions. Digitalisation has a major role to play in this. The future will be technologically driven and digital options, and digital tools are what people will be looking for.

Q: UITP is globally networked and has a unique overview of the entire public transport sector. What developments are you observing internationally, which are the most exciting innovations?

UITP is the only international association of its kind to bring together all players under one large grouping. We have the traditional mass transport networks, authorities, and operators co-existing alongside the new mobility players. This gives us, and our members, a unique standing in that we can observe the developments taking place right across the entire spectrum of public transport. It’s a privileged position, and as a member-led body we get to see the latest trends, research and data that drives our sector forward. One of the major trends is the willingness to collaborate and integrate more services in a single app. There are many other exciting innovations being explored in public transport, from contactless and open loop payments to on-demand mobility, artificial intelligence, MaaS, 5G, autonomous mobility and more, and IT-TRANS is the best place to explore those innovative developments.

5G Technology will change the way we travel in more ways than most realise.

Q: The progress of 5G technology holds a lot of potential for the future of mobility. Can you explain why 5G can fundamentally shape and change digital processes in mobility?

5G and telecommunications are helping to shape the future of transportation in ways that perhaps not everyone realises. They offer an opportunity to provide better connectivity to enhance the way we travel. 5G is a growing innovation and with that, there’s also growing demand to see the benefits of what it can offer. With 5G rollout, cities will be better enabled with smart connectivity, real-time monitoring, and user-demand management. It’s a part of the technological world that people are curious about, but still learning more. UITP always highlights technologies which will become mainstream in next the 3-5 years. At IT-TRANS you will find 5G technology throughout our programme as one of our ten main key topics. In fact, UITP has formed the Information Technology and Telecommunication Committee (ITT) to better learn from the leading telecommunication players, companies, and experts – they will be with us at IT-TRANS to share their expertise. Like all parts of the I.T. and digital world, 5G is of great interest to public transport and the part it can and will play in the roll out of autonomous mobility in our cities.

 Q: How is 5G being used internationally, what differences do you observe worldwide?

We’re hearing more from UITP members on the topic of 5G in recent months and years than ever before. It’s part of a moving technology that is always developing and it’s important to keep sharing knowledge and research with our sector. The adoption of technology keeps on accelerating with smartphones and networks that will provide passengers with real-time information and better services, designed around people and passengers. We’ve also witnessed examples from players such as Keolis with their demonstrations of a 5G remote controlled autonomous electric minibus in Stockholm. They’re not alone in their work at pushing forward with these new developments and it’s incredibly exciting to see what public transport can do in a constantly developing digital world.

IT-TRANS 2022 will be hosted in-person and online.

Q: At IT-TRANS 2022, the industry will meet again in person in May. How will companies and visitors benefit from being part of this year’s edition?

This month, from 6-8 February, UITP hosted the MENA Transport Congress and Exhibition in Dubai. This is a pillar UITP event, on the same level as IT-TRANS, and is co-hosted with our local partner Roads and Transport Authority, RTA Dubai. It was our first physical, full in-person event since the pandemic began and it was an overwhelming success. We had 44 exhibitors from 20 countries and 72 speakers from 22 countries – welcoming 2000 participants from almost 50 countries. The general feedback taken from our attendees is the joy they felt in being back together to discuss the future of mobility face-to-face. It shows that with the correct rules in place during the pandemic, we can gather together as a sector to debate and innovate. Public transport is known for its sense of community, and this is always on show during IT-TRANS. By highlighting the success of the MENA Transport Congress and Exhibition, I know that our exhibitors, speakers and delegates know how dedicated UITP is to making our events a success, and how prepared we are to make our gatherings an enjoyable, safe and forward-thinking atmosphere. By joining us in Karlsruhe, every company and every visitor will find a sector waiting for them full of people eager to exchange and develop new digital solutions.

Q: What concept did you follow when designing the conference program for IT-TRANS this year?

Our 2022 Conference programme is built around parallel sessions, market updates, plenary sessions, poster sessions, workshops, and technical visits, built around ten main topics: Mobility-as-a-Service, Contactless Ticketing, CybersSecurity, 5G and Telecommunication, Digital Transformation, Autonomous Mobility, Big Data and Data Governance, On-Demand and Flexible Transport, AI and IoT and Smart Cities and Integrated Network Management. Within those ten topics, the programme offers almost 60 individual topics. Whatever is of interest to you, you’ll mind a session in our programme covering it. What’s important to recognise is that although IT-TRANS is focused on the future role of I.T. and digitalisation in public transport, we’re also looking at a new future for our sector as we build back, hopefully better, out of the pandemic. Public transport, like most sectors, is looking at a future that was not part of the conversation for our previous physical edition in 2018. Now we’re considering what our cities can and should look like beyond Covid-19. The digital revolution that has been taking place in public transport will be front and centre of what public transport can next achieve. The world is changing, and modernisation is what people will expect going forward. Our Conference programme is about as modern and futuristic as you will find. After all, the future belongs to intelligent and smart concepts to make our cities as accessible and sustainable as possible.

Q: Which speaker or presentation are you particularly looking forward to this year?

I couldn’t possibly choose! Our speakers list is full of recognisable names from all corners of the globe, ready to present pioneering concepts and digitalisation trends. Whether engineers or strategists, those from research or tech, our programme contains experienced names from leading companies. We already have our speakers assigned to their panel, and I know that their presentations will be worth the watch. What is special about IT-TRANS is that when you have an event focused on digitalisation and the futuristic angle of mobility, the experts in attendance are driven by their passion. We know that I.T. and the digital world is a major part of the future of public transport, so the desire to showcase that future is always on show. There really is something for everyone in our programme with parallel sessions, workshops and market updates catering to all tastes. It is of course all coordinated around our key topics and themes – so whatever your interest, you’ll find it covered in our programme…

A huge thank you to Jaspal for his time and thoughts on what’s next for the digital world of public transport!