(Good) Practise Makes Perfect (Sense)

Thinking Highways
By Thinking Highways February 10, 2016 15:44

(Good) Practise Makes Perfect (Sense)

Applying the lessons ITS teaches others: Kevin Borras listens intently as Paul Vorster holds court about a further strengthening of the i-Transport brand.

“Let’s get the systems to work smarter.” This, more often than not, is the advice that the ITS industry tells it clients. Practicing – more than just preaching – these lessons may well help to put Intelligent Transport Systems and, specifically, the ITS societies tasked with the aim of helping the industry grow on a steeper trajectory.


Thinking Highways asked Dr Paul Vorster, CEO of ITS South Africa and member of the ITS Africa Working Group, to explain how best to put the theory into practice.


Says Vorster: “Growing existing ITS markets and developing new markets requires, in essence, a collective effort between public sector authorities, the ITS industry and the non-profit ITS Associations. In this tri-partite alliance, ITS associations play a key, enabling role. This enabling role of ITS associations, however, can be significantly strengthened to support the sustainable growth we collectively strive for as this tri-partite alliance.”



Firstly, the authorities. Operating on national/federal, state/provincial and metro/local level, authorities have the mandate to find solutions for the multitude of transport challenge. “As the major procurer of ITS solutions, they exercise a key ‘pull’ force” explains Vorster. “By demanding smart solutions to complex mobility challenges, they help to grow the ITS market.”


Secondly, the ITS industry. The diverse companies that make up the industry provide a significant ‘push’ factor through R&D, innovation, delivering solutions and by anticipating future problems looking for solutions. “Working to increase its market share, these companies individually and collectively help to grow the ITS market” he says.


Thirdly, ITS Associations. Operating mostly on a non-profit business model they help to grow the ITS ‘pie’ for companies as a result to get bigger slices. “Their enabling role includes working towards creating a favourable socio-political environment for ITS deployment, influencing policy, encouraging the development of ITS standards to promote interoperability, paving the way for adoption by road-users and commuters of smart solutions, facilitating education and capacity-building and serving as facilitators to get diverse ITS stakeholders to engage with one another and promoting a strategic conversation about the future of ITS,” Vorster maintains.


Citing the example of ITS South Africa, Vorster suggests that to play this enabling role it is now an opportune time to practice what we preach on working smarter.


“Taking inspiration from the slogan as part of the branding of ITS South Africa which reads ‘Making Transport Work Smarter for All’, we set out to pursue the lessons, inter alia, of  ‘integration’ and ‘seamless operations’ by actively looking for better co-operation and synergy with related stakeholders.”


Meet smarter

The biennial International i-Transport Conference & Exhibition is a flagship project of ITS South Africa. It serves to benchmark local ITS projects against international best practice, encourage knowledge sharing, brings buyers and sellers together and serves as a platform for engaging stakeholders in a strategic discussion of the future of ITS in the region.


To better play its enabling role in the tri-partite alliance with the authorities and industry, using i-Transport as a launch pad to practice what the industry preaches, ITS South Africa has entered into an agreement with the UATP, the African chapter of the International Public Transport Association (UITP) with ITS Africa to co-host this flagship event.


“’Working smarter’ means that we should pursue a common vision for ITS in South Africa and the whole of Africa, share resources, minimize duplication of effort, and above all, create value for all ITS stakeholders and encourage a sense of what the road forward for ITS could look like,” says a clearly enthused Vorster.

“A collective effort between UATP, ITS Africa and ITS South Africa in co-hosting i-Transport makes absolute sense. Apart from practicing what we preach, it establishes a co-operation model with tangible benefits for all three parties.”



He continues: “On the one hand is the clear understanding that ITS lies at the core of public transport. Co-operating with ITS South Africa and ITS Africa therefore furthers the strategic objectives of a body such as UATP. On the other hand a large percentage of the ITS deployment projects in Africa is in the field of public transport and working together with the UATP promotes the strategies of ITS South Africa and ITS Africa.”


As a biennial event, the next i-Transport Conference & Exhibition will be hosted on 13–17 February 2017 at the International Convention Center in the heart of Sandton, the business district of Johannesburg. The theme, reflecting the co-operation between the three partners, is “Go Green/Go Smart”.


“Each of the three partners brings a specific value to i-Transport. ITS South Africa has successfully hosted i-Transport every second year since 2001 and established this as a strategic value-add on the ITS calendar.  i-Transport offers a strong programme with high-level speakers. At the 2015 event the keynote speaker was Gen George Casey (Ret), Past Chief of Staff of the US Army, on leadership lessons applied to the ITS industry.


Age and experience

As the oldest ITS association in Africa and active in encouraging global participation, ITSSA has a strong network of industry players – locally, regionally and internationally.


The UATP, as the Africa chapter of the UITP, is well-known and respected in public transport circles on the continent of Africa and brings officials, public transport operators and its supply chain into the ITS fold.


After working in the background for quite a number of months, the ITS Africa Working Group, consisting of ITS Ethiopia, ITS Nigeria and ITS South Africa, formalised the establishment of ITS Africa as an umbrella body for ITS associations in Africa. The long-term aim is to contribute to ITS deployment projects on the African continent by complementing the work of officials and industry players in the respective countries. Although ITS Africa is still a brand new organisation, the concept is widely welcomed and it is well placed to play an enabling role and to help introduce ITS policies and strategies on the continent as part of its ITS growth strategy.


“As ITS practitioners we advise everyone to share information, minimize duplication of effort and to strive towards optimal integration between ITS systems for seamless operations,” Vorster insists. “As ITS associations we will do well to practice what we preach and put a common vision centre stage and work accordingly.  This is what we aim for by co-hosting the i-Transport Conference & Exhibition in 2017 between UATP, ITS Africa and ITS South Africa with the shared vision of promoting sustainable smart transport.”










Thinking Highways
By Thinking Highways February 10, 2016 15:44