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 Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Participants in a workshop jointly organized by ITU and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) have agreed an Action Plan to guide and strengthen the two organizations’ collaboration in leveraging intelligent transport systems (ITS) to enhance road safety in emerging markets.

Each year road accidents claim the lives of 1.2 million people and leave another 20-50 million injured. Developing countries are by far the hardest hit, and the global financial toll of these accidents is estimated at an annual half a trillion US Dollars. Technologies have long contributed to making roads safer through, for example, anti-lock braking systems and airbags. ITS and vehicle communications have the potential to springboard very significant leaps forward in vehicle safety.

The ITU-UNECE workshop, “Intelligent transport systems in emerging markets – drivers for safe and sustainable growth”, was held at ITU Headquarters in Geneva, 27 June 2013. The event took place during the eighth meeting of the Collaboration on ITS Communication Standards at the same venue, on 26 and 28 June 2013; also drawing a number of its participants from attendees of a meeting of UNECE’s Working Party 29 on Vehicle Regulations in the Palais des Nations, 25-28 June 2013.

The workshop opened with welcoming remarks from Malcolm Johnson, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, followed by a keynote presentation from Eva Molnar, Director of the UNECE Transport Division. Alongside experts from the ITS and ICT communities, the car industry was well represented by the likes of FIA, Volvo and BMW.

The workshop’s first session offered a “Global ITS update”, looking at ITS technologies’ deployment status in different regions of the world, regulatory frameworks, radiofrequency issues and standards. The second session focused on “ITS in emerging markets” by discussing case studies from India and South Africa, and by pinpointing the key challenges and opportunities.

The workshop’s afternoon sessions took aim at road safety, first discussing the use of “ITS to increase road safety in emerging markets”, followed by an in-depth analysis of means of “Tackling the [driver] distraction challenge”.

The workshop concluded with an Action Plan which directs ITU and UNECE to collaborate with governments, policy makers, regulators, standards development organizations (SDOs), industry, civil society and relevant international and regional organizations, to:

  • Lead with vision in fostering the adoption of best practices and effective policies for using ITS and vehicle communications as means to increase road safety and reduce the number of road traffic accidents worldwide.
  • Standardize, adopt and promote globally harmonized ITS-related vehicle and infrastructure regulation, communication standards and radio spectrum, and accelerate the development and adoption of standards that address the growing dangers of technology-caused driver distraction.
  • Share knowledge, raise awareness and provide education to promote ITS information and education resources suitable for all communities, stakeholders, governments and academia; raising awareness for the crucial role of vehicle communications to increase road safety globally.
  • Shape the agenda, boost partnerships and mobilize expertise in the areas of ITS, vehicle communications, road safety and driver distraction.

The workshop and Action Plan follow the spirit of the 2013 World Telecommunication/Information Society Day held on 17 May and themed ICTs and Improving Road Safety.

The full text of the Action Plan is available here.

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