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ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

ITU Symposium on the Future Networked Car

Geneva, Switzerland, ​5 March 2014

Opening Address

ITU Secretary-General
Distinguished guests,

Welcome to this first ITU symposium on the Future Networked Car.

Of course many of you will know that, in the past, this event existed in another guise – the Fully Networked Car @ the Geneva Motor Show.

For 2014 we have decided on a rebrand to focus on the future and kickstart the discussions between all players that, it is increasingly clear, are essential to moving more swiftly towards intelligent and autonomous driving.

It is why we have reshaped the event to include two high-level sessions that will engage key industry players and other stakeholders with a view to tackling some of the obstacles facing rollout of these technologies.

I would like to thank UNECE, (the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe), for their partnership and especially the Director of its Transport Division, Eva Molnar. UNECE is an important player in this field and a key partner for our work as we me move forward.

In fact, UNECE, as many of you will know, is responsible for the primary international treaty relevant to this field – the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic.

I would also like to offer my great appreciation to AB InBev who have kindly provided the sponsorship necessary to bring this event to a wider audience today, and of course the Geneva Motor Show for hosting our event.

And last but not least I would like to thank the Geneva International Motor Show with whom we have built a solid partnership over the last almost ten years – it is great to be a partner of one of the world’s top motor shows.

It is our aim to end the event tomorrow with a clearer idea on the way forward and some concrete actions to set us on the right path to achieving the vision of the future networked car in a world where the incredible innovations and opportunities promised by automated driving and ITS become a reality.

Many of you that are new to ITU may not be aware that collaboration between the ICT sector and the transportation sector has become a major objective in ITU in recent years.

Last year ITU hosted an event to mark World Telecommunication Information Society Day (WTISD) with the theme “ICTs and improving road safety”. We were very proud to have F1 driver, Felipe Massa, endorse the event and give a live demonstration of the dangers of texting and driving.

Three laureates were honoured in recognition of their leadership and dedication towards promoting ICTs as a means of improving road safety: Mr Ueli Maurer, President of the Swiss Confederation; Mr Volkmar Denner, Chairman of the Board of Management of Robert Bosch GmbH; and Mr Jean Todt, President of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA).

I am very grateful that Jean Todt, is here with us again today for the two high-level sessions.

And in May of this year, ITU will host an event here in Geneva at ITU headquarters to bring car manufacturers together with makers of hands-free terminals and phones to test their products according to ITU standards and encourage a new era of trouble free hands-free communications.

We aim to build on partnerships with important stakeholders like FIA and UNECE and bring in other key players. Road safety demands attention. The statistics are a stark reminder of why… Every year, 1.3 million people die in traffic-related accidents, and another 20-50 million people are injured.

Throughout the world the human and financial costs are vast.

The implementation of internationally agreed technology solutions could reduce these statistics drastically.

Some analysis suggests that ITS could reduce road-traffic accidents by as much as 80 per cent – meaning thousands of lives being saved every year!

And now autonomous driving offers even greater opportunties to reduce these numbers.

ITU is making progress towards the development of state-of-the-art standards for intelligent transport systems (ITS), with a particular focus on road safety. And, the radio frequency spectrum requirements for ITS are high on the agenda of ITU’s World Radiocommunication Conference in 2015.

But safety is not the only benefit. ITS also improves traffic management, reducing congestion and pollution, and therefore contributes to combating climate change.

These are all compelling reasons to pursue this goal of internationally agreed standards.Clearly this work requires the building of new partnerships, including in particular with the automotive industry – an industry that traditionally has not had close ties with ITU. To assist in developing these new collaborations ITU has formed a new open group bringing together different standards bodies, technology solution providers, and car manufacturers. This group is called the “Collaboration on ITS Communication Standards”. I take this opportunity to invite all of you to participate in the next meeting of this group which will take place on Friday, 7 March, at ITU headquarters here in Geneva.

The UN Secretary General has commended ITU for its work with industry to develop ITS standards and increase awareness around road safety.

I repeat that it is concerted international action involving all stakeholders that is very important, and so I am very pleased that we have many of these stakeholders participating in this workshop here today. ITU is keen to work with all of you and I very much hope you will join this collaborative effort.

As with all our workshops, we look to you the participants to come up with some suggestions and recommendations on how we might take the work forward, and I promise that as always we will act on the recommendations.

I would like to thank the moderators and speakers, all of whom are experts in the field, so I wish you all an interesting and productive event.