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Ministers want better transport governance

Jun 01 2017 14:44
Carin Smith

Leipzig – Governments need detailed knowledge of transport for policy making as the world is entering a period characterised by a radical need for good governance of transport, according to Jose Viegas, secretary general of the International Transport Forum (ITF).

“There is a big challenge for policy making and governance must be better. The transition to driverless vehicles, for instance, will be like having to treat a bleeding patient while he keeps on moving,” Viegas said at the 10th annual summit of the ITF taking place in Leipzig, Germany this week.

Automation, power trains, sustainable environmental goals, a changing political background and greater demands from citizens are some of the aspects of this changing transport environment.

That is why four of the focus elements for the ITF are infrastructure, connectivity, innovation and urban access.

“The development of every nation depends on the global integration also of its transport,” explained Gerardo Ruiz Esparza, Secretary of Communications and Transport of Mexico.

“There needs to be good governance of infrastructure, communications and regulation of innovation in the transport industry.”

For Alexander Dobrindt, German Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, this is an exciting time for changes in mobility, brought about by things like the shared economy, new power trains, automated and autonomous driving.

In his view, cutting edge developments will impact societies and create new international competition among regions and companies.

Toomas Ilves, former president of Estonia, told delegates at the ITF summit that it is beginning to dawn on governments that a degree of disruption is coming and at a far more rapid pace than in the past. It is estimated, for instance, that in about six years’ time the computing power of a micro chip will be 16 times more powerful than it is today.

At the same time, governance policy, laws and regulations often fall behind as governments tend to follow a linear approach.

“It is crucial for the private sector to ensure that governance keeps up with changes. The lack of well thought through policy and the lack of a legal foundation won’t mean that these disruptions will not come in rail and road transport and more. It cannot be regulated in an outdated manner,” warned Ilves.

Among the disruptions he mentioned are data security (for instance regarding internet based cars and trucks); transport infrastructure for driverless vehicles; insurance (for instance who will be liable if there is an accident involving a driverless vehicle); job losses in the taxi and trucking industry; a decline in traditional car producers and vehicles increasingly being reliant on good connectivity.

“Imagine what will happen if a driverless truck is hacked. Governance of transport will, therefore, have to transform into governance of data systems,” said Ilves.

Data integrity and data privacy are two other very important aspects he pointed out.

“A breach of data privacy would, for example, be where your blood type is made public, while data integrity would come to play where someone goes in an change what your blood type is listed as,” said Ilves.

“My call is for the private sector to keep governments informed of what is going on as all of these disruptions are just too new for governments. In future countries and industries that accommodate themselves to changes will succeed, but those clinging to the old ways will simply lag behind.”

* Fin24 is the guest of the ITF at its summit.

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