4 Mar 2022

In interview: UITP's Senior Jaspal Singh

In our interview UITP's Senior Jaspal Singh gives an overview of the international public transport sector and how companies and visitors will benefit from IT-TRANS.

What challenges are cities around the world facing? What contribution can digitisation make to meeting them?

The world we’re living in right now is not the world we knew when the previous physical IT-TRANS was held in 2018. It’s important to recognise that whenever gathering experts together to consider the future. The challenges our cities are facing are different now, as we look at the next steps through the impacts of a global pandemic. As devasating as Covid-19 has been for public transport in terms of ridership, revenue and movement, there are opportunities for the sector to re-evaluate what will come next. Technology will play an important role for public transport to bring back lost ridership and offer better customer experience.

The progress of 5G technology holds a lot of potential for the future of mobility. Can you explain why 5G can fundamentally shape and change digital processes in mobility?

5G and telecommunications are helping to shape the future of transportation in ways that perhaps not everyone realises. They offer an opportunity to provide better connectivity to enhance the way we travel. 5G is a growing innovation and with that, there’s also growing demand to see the benefits of what it can offer. With 5G rollout, cities will be better enabled with smart connectivity, real-time monitoring and user-demand management. It’s a part of the technological world that people are curious about, but still learning more.

UITP always highlight technoloies which will become mainstram in next 3-5 years. At IT-TRANS you will find 5G technology throughout our programme as one of our ten main key topics. In fact UITP has formed the Information Technology and Telecommunication Committee (ITT) to better learn from the leading telecommunicaiton players, companies and experts – they will be with us at IT-TRANS to share their expertise. Like all parts of the I.T. and digital world, 5G is of great interest to public transport and the part it can and will play in the roll out of autonomous mobility in our cities.

Our cities will become home to more people than ever before in the decades to come as urbanisation grows and populations reside closer to one another than ever before. With that comes challenges and opportunities. We need our cities to be as accessible and sustainable as possible, built around the people who inhabit them. That future belongs to ecological and smart city concepts that combine mobility, sustainability and smart, intelligent concepts. If we combine all options, then we can foster innovative solutions. Digitalisation has a major role to play in this. The future will be technologically driven and digital options, and digital tools are what people will be looking for.

At IT-TRANS 2022, the industry will meet again in person in May. How will companies and visitors benefit from IT-TRANS?

This month, from 6-8 February, UITP hosted the MENA Transport Congress and Exhibition in Dubai. This is a pillar UITP event, on the same level as IT-TRANS, and is co-hosted with our local partner Roads and Transport Authority, RTA Dubai. It was our first physical, full in-person event since the pandemic began and it was an overwhelming success. We had 44 exhibitors from 20 countries and 72 speakers from 22 countries – welcoming 2000 participants from almost 50 countries. The general feedback taken from our attendees is the joy they felt in being back together to discuss the future of mobility face-to-face. It shows that with the correct rules in place during the pandemic, we can gather together as a sector to debate and innovate. Public transport is known for its sense of community and this is always on show during IT-TRANS. By highlighting the success of the MENA Transport Congress and Exhibtion, I know that our exhibitors, speakers and delegates know how dedicated UITP is to making our events a success, and how prepared we are to make our gatherings an enjoyable, safe and forward-thinking atmosphere. By joining us in Karlsruhe, every company and every visitor will find a sector waiting for them full of people eager to exchange and develop new digital solutions.

What concept did you follow when designing the conference program for IT-TRANS this year?

Our 2022 Conference programme is built around parallel sessions, market updates, plenary sessions, poster sessions, workshops and technical visits, built around ten main topics: Mobility-as-a-Service, Contactless Ticketing, CybersSecurity, 5G and Telecommunication, Digital Transformation, Autonomous Mobility, Big Data and Data Governance, On-Demand and Flexible Transport, AI and IoT and Smart Cities and Integrated Network Management. Within those ten topics, the programme offers almost 60 individual topics. Whatever is of interest to you, you’ll mind a session in our programme covering it. What’s important to recognise is that although IT-TRANS is focused on the future role of I.T. and digitalisation in public transport, we’re also looking at a new future for our sector as we build back, hopefully better, out of the pandemic. Public transport, like most sectors, is looking at a future that was not part of the conversation for our previous physical edition in 2018. Now we’re considering what our cities can and should look like beyond Covid-19. The digital revolution that has been taking place in public transport will be front and centre of what public transport can next achieve. The world is changing, and modernisation is what people will expect going forward. Our Conference programme is about as modern and futuristic as you will find. After all, the future belonds to intelligent and smart concepts to make our cities are accessible and sustainable as possible.

Which speaker or presentation are you particularly looking forward to this year?

I couldn’t possibly choose! Our speakers list is fulll of recogniseable names from all corners of the globe, ready to present pioneering concepts and digitalisation trends. Whether engineers or strategists, those from research or tech, our programme contains experienced names from leading companies. We already have our speakers assigned to their panel, and I know that their presentations will be worth the watch. What is special about IT-TRANS is that when you have an event focused on digitalisation and the futuristic angle of mobility, the experts in attendance are driven by their passion. We know that I.T. and the digital world is a major part of the future of public transport, so the desire to showcase that future is always on show. There really is something for everyone in our programme with parallel sessions, workshops and market updates catering to all tastes. It is of course all coordinated around our key topics and themes – so whatever your interest, you’ll find it covered in our programme.