ITSC 2013 started in earnest with Monday morning’s plenary session. ITS was discussed through the lens of the three points of the golden triangle: Public, Private and Research. Keynote speeches by Bob Denaro, a noted ITS consultant and Matthew Karlaftis of the National Technical University of Athens followed a brief introduction to the Amsterdam practical trial by Ronald Adams of the Dutch “Rijkswaterstaat.”
The big picture was a prevailing theme in the two keynote speeches, and a provided an excellent framing for the conference to come, which will certainly focus on narrower more specific problems. Denaro led the audience through the past, present and future of ITS systems, leading towards his view of the eventual combination of Automation and Communication. Karlaftis’ focus was on big data, and the challenges and opportunities that it presents.
Both presentations were oriented towards future perspectives in ITS. Denaro’s summary of the history of ITS, leaned heavily on historic, space odyssey style predictions of the future. A short film from The Wonderful World of Disney in the 50s, seems to have predicted much of the automated features that are being discussed and implemented in automobiles today. These historic predictions often had families relaxing while their cars drove themselves, however, Denaro discussed the importance of human oriented design and underlined that both the airline industry and the automobile industry consider the driver as an essential part of an automated driving system.
For Karlaftis, big data is not only an emerging analysis method, but a way to address new problems. The worlds cities are constantly growing and the number one problem across the world’s megacities is said to be traffic and transportation. At the same time, we will soon have an internet of over 1 trillion connected things, including computers, mobile phones and others. This allows for the potential of the use of massive amounts of data to solve these problems. In referencing the 2011 Brad Pitt film “Moneyball,” Karlaftis noted that it is not just about having big data, but about how you use it.
A final question allowed Karlaftis, also the editor-in-chief of Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies, to touch on his views of the state of research and publishing today. He spoke of the importance of research that is problem oriented as opposed to method oriented. While there is a place for both, Karlaftis mentioned his interest in problem oriented research. With those final words, the participants of the 16th International IEEE Annual Conference on Intelligent Transportation Systems were sent off to attend the first of many sessions of research presentations.