Coming Home: Motor City welcomes the world of ITS

Thinking Highways
By Jim Barbaresso September 2, 2014 15:39

Coming Home: Motor City welcomes the world of ITS

The future of transportation to be showcased where it all began: the ITS World Congress heads to Detroit, as Jim Barbaresso explains.

From 7-11 September, for the first time in its history, the World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems comes to the home of America’s auto industry: Detroit, Michigan.

The ITS World Congress only occurs in the Americas once every three years so it’s quite an honor to host 10,000 of the world’s high tech transportation leaders as they gather to discuss and showcase the technologies that are driving the future of transportation. But while it’s an honor to be sure, in some ways, it’s overdue.

Some 101 years after Henry Ford developed the Model-T production line, it seems entirely appropriate that America’s original Motor City is paving the way for the next iteration of the transportation industry. In fact, today Michigan is home to 375 automotive research and development centers, 120 of which are foreign-owned. With its renowned automotive manufacturing base, concentration of transportation companies, research institutions and deploying agencies, and cutting-edge R&D footprint, Michigan has an automotive infrastructure that is unmatched anywhere in the world and makes it the perfect backdrop for the ITS World Congress.


Sitting at the largest freight border crossing in North America, more than 25 per cent of all goods between the US and Canada come through Detroit and that number will soon increase. A new massive bridge will soon connect our two nations featuring the latest Intelligent Transportation technologies all designed to speed up the crossing while increasing traffic flow and protecting the border.

Attendees at the ITS World Congress will not only get to hear about the latest advances in transportation, they’ll get to see and experience them first hand. For the first time in Detroit convention history, our conference activities will extend to Belle Isle, a 900-acre state park in the middle of the Detroit River, to showcase and demonstrate driverless vehicles, connected vehicles and a host of other cutting edge transportation technologies.

The ITS World Congress will be based at Detroit’s newly refurbished Cobo Center. It’s a spectacular home for our event with 300,000 square feet of exhibition space, state-of-the-art meeting facilities and stunning views of downtown and the Detroit River. Our speaker list represents a who’s who of transportation technology titans including Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford, Verizon Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam, and Robert Slimp, CEO of HNTB Infrastructure.

We’ll also draw the world’s leading transportation policymakers, researchers, high-tech innovators, and business professionals from more than 65 countries to share the latest ITS applications from around the globe. We’re planning a youth showcase to highlight the next generation of ITS talent and investor matching opportunities for high-tech transportation startups that will shape our industry and pave the way to smarter cities around the world.

The exhibition hall will literally be transformed into a transportation hub where attendees will see “behind the curtain” and experience live, multimodal transportation operations in real-time at our working replica of the Michigan Department of Transportation’s Southeast Michigan Traffic Operations Center. In addition, the World Congress will feature more than 250 panels, roundtables, and interactive town hall sessions, and numerous networking and media events.

It’s a special moment in and for Detroit. We’re reinventing Southeast Michigan as a global center for Intelligent Transportation and when you come to the ITS World Congress, you’ll have the opportunity to witness that transformation and participate in it, first-hand. We hope to see you in Detroit.


Jim Barbaresso is Organizing Committee Chairman for the 2014 ITS World Congress. A long-time Michigan transportation leader, he is also Vice President of Intelligent Transportation for HNTB Corporation.

You can learn more about the 2014 ITS World Congress by visiting:

Thinking Highways
By Jim Barbaresso September 2, 2014 15:39