Fri. Mar 1st, 2024

Let’s work together to improve road safety. Technology will be key.

By Yushi Torigoe, Chief of the ITU Strategic Planning and Membership Department

*The text below is based on my participation in a panel session on “Enhancing international collaboration for road safety” at the 3rd Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety held on 19-20 February, in Stockholm, Sweden.

There is great concern that road traffic accidents kill more than 1.35 million people every year and are the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged 5-29 years.

Road traffic accidents cost most countries 3 per cent of their gross domestic product.

The numbers are indeed, alarming!

The 3rd Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety was an opportunity for a dialogue on how we can provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all.

It is clear that while some countries have made progress on road safety in the past decade through better road safety legislation on speeding, drink driving, seatbelt use, wearing helmets, for example, much more can be done, and we need a set of innovative solutions to save lives on the world’s roads.

Participants at the Conference agreed that intensifying international cooperation and multilateralism through engagement with all relevant actors, including the private sector, is necessary to achieve global road safety targets – including the Sustainable Development Goal target 3.6 – to reduce road traffic fatalities and injuries by half.

We need to put an end to a silo mentality, when it comes to dealing with a global problem.

The resulting Stockholm Declaration recognizes that advanced vehicle safety technologies are among the most effective of all automotive safety devices, and encourages and incentivizes the development, application and deployment of existing and future technologies and other innovations.

However, if these technologies are to be deployed efficiently and at scale, then global standards are a key requirement.

Cross-sector and international collaboration for global standards

ITU has been collaborating globally to develop information and communication technology (ICT) standards specifically related to road safety.

In fact, new ITU focus groups related to connected cars and autonomous and assisted driving have resulted in strengthened multi-sector collaboration, and a surge of new members from the automotive sector.

These include car manufacturers such as Volkswagen Group and Hyundai – and a diverse range of other automotive industry players such as China’s Telematics Industry Application Alliance, Continental, Bosch, BlackBerry, Tata Communications and Mitsubishi Electric.

New ITU focus groups related to connected cars and autonomous and assisted driving have resulted in strengthened multi-sector collaboration.

In January the first meeting of ITU Focus Group on ‘Artificial Intelligence for Autonomous and Assisted Driving’ was held in London.

By joining ITU, these global stakeholders are helping to shape international standards that protect and encourage key investments, improve road safety, and help build intelligent transport systems.

With ITU standards, the products required for safer, connected vehicles and intelligent transport systems benefit economies of scale, and enable outreach to the global markets of ITU’s Member States.

ITU’s regional coordination

ITU’s conference preparation, such as for a World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC), is based on regional preparation, and final consensus is based on coordination among regions.

There is then the opportunity afterwards for regional and local priorities to be adjusted.

The potential of 5G in connected cars

ITU, through its 193 Member States, has been leading international collaboration and cooperation on issues relating to ICTs for over 150 years.

The World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19), for example, welcomed over 3400 participants, and resulted in a key consensus-based agreement to allocate additional radio-frequency bands which will facilitate the development of fifth-generation (5G) mobile networks, which will enable autonomous vehicles and smart cities.

WRC-19 recommended that ITU Member State administrations consider using globally or regionally harmonized frequency bands, or parts thereof, as described in the ITU-R Recommendations (e.g. Rec. ITU-R M.2121), when planning and deploying evolving intelligent transport system (ITS) applications. This will contribute to safety of roads and economies of scale in bringing evolving ITS equipment and services to the public.  In making this recommendation, WRC-19 also considered that these bands are shared with other radio services and recommended that administrations take into account the need to avoid potential interference with those other services operating in these same bands.

The future networked car

In another example of cross-sector collaboration, since 2003, ITU and UNECE have brought together representatives of the automotive, information technology, and communications industries, along with government leaders, to discuss the status and future of vehicle communications and automated driving.

This year’s Symposium for the Future Networked Car (FNC 2020), will be held on 5 March, 2020 at ITU in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Symposium will enable participants to examine the latest advances in the areas of vehicle connectivity, cybersecurity, applications of artificial intelligence (AI), and the global regulatory framework that will support deployment of more highly automated mobility solutions.

Together, participants will also explore the relationships between vehicle communications and automated driving by analysing the crucial role of the latest 5G connectivity technologies in delivering safer and more effective transport.

If you wish to learn more or participate in these discussions, I strongly encourage you to attend FNC 2020.


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