9/8/2014 | 1 MINUTE READ

Transport Chiefs Describe Connected Future

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Transportation ministers and directors meeting in Detroit for the ITS World Congress foresee a world with no road signs, dramatically fewer crashes and the ability to squeeze as much as five times today's traffic capacity from today's infrastructure.

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Transportation ministers and directors meeting in Detroit for the ITS World Congress foresee a world with no road signs, dramatically fewer crashes and the ability to squeeze as much as five times today's traffic capacity from today's infrastructure.

An international high-level policy roundtable on Sunday describes transport as evolving into a service business, driven by technology that is disrupting the status quo but also delivering effective solutions. The U.S. Dept. of Transportation calls it an "extraordinarily important time" in which to address unacceptable levels of congestion, pollution, injuries and fatalities.

The group notes that connecting vehicles with each other and the infrastructure eventually will end the need for road signs and signals, because such information will be displayed electronically inside the car itself. Connectivity also will sharply reduce crashes, improve transport safety and facilitate smoother traffic flow.

Singapore describes itself as a 270-square-mile city-state that currently uses 14% of its land to house 5 million inhabitants and 12% of its land for roads for one million cars. It considers public transportation "absolutely necessary" to offset worsening traffic congestion. It has launched efforts to shape car usage by manipulating road fees by time of day and through real-time monitoring of traffic density. Kuala Lumpur is using a thousand cameras to count cars, generate real-time congestion maps and forecast traffic conditions one hour in the future.

Several ministers emphasize that transport system should not attempt to predict their future structure. Instead, the say, planners should strive to make their systems as flexible as possible to accommodate unanticipated shifts in need. Said one representative from Finland, "Don't predict the future, enable it."