There has recently been much talk in the media about the costs of intelligent transport and distance-based taxation. What puzzles me is why the debate on intelligent transport invariably focuses on the cost aspect. We should also be talking about the social impacts of intelligent transport, which involve not only traffic itself but also new business opportunities.
Finnish operators have excellent expertise in various areas of intelligent transport and are thus well placed to exploit the emerging market and to create new business, new jobs and new exports in Finland. This is an angle I would like the media to cover more.
Sometimes it is claimed that technological advances always cut jobs. This is certainly not true in intelligent transport. A VTT report showed the intelligent transport sector in Finland to have an estimated turnover of EUR 300 million and to employ about 1,700 people (2010). The international market for intelligent transport devices is estimated to be growing by about 20% per year. Such a significant market offers a remarkable opportunity for a variety of operators, and is of national significance.
As a developer of intelligent transport, Finland is especially well placed. Our country is the ideal size and we have the ideal technological expertise for trying out new services and innovations such as intelligent transport. We also have close cooperation between enterprises, authorities and research institutes providing a solid foundation for new intelligent transport services.
In the multiple-operator environment of intelligent transport, we must be able to create new operating models and value networks where the goals and strengths of various operators can meet. A case in point is the ongoing Helsinki – St Petersburg Smart Transport Corridor project, in which VTT is involved along with enterprises and public authorities. The development of a new intelligent transport ecosystem caters to both transport policy and business policy.
The final report of the working group led by Jorma Ollila and appointed by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Fair and intelligent transport (only available in Finnish), notes that before the final decision is made to adopt distance-based taxation, it is important to establish with certainty the functionality of the technology, applicability to taxation use, costs and privacy issues. The report further notes that progress should be made through testing, which is exactly what is being done now. VTT has been actively involved in a number of transport field testing projects in Europe. I hope that we will be able to put our expertise to good use in the testing called for by the Ollila working group.
Finland now has a unique opportunity to draw on close cooperation between the authorities, enterprises and other interest groups to do something unique and build an intelligent transport ecosystem. This will enable us to create better services for travellers and generate new business and export products.
Finnish intelligent transport operators will have a unique opportunity to present their expertise and services from 16 to 19 June 2014 at the ITS European Congress in Helsinki.
VTT will have a presence at the exhibition, and VTT employees will be giving talks. You can find us at stand A19.
Hope to see you at the Fair Centre in June!
Karri Rantasila, Key Account Manager