The resounding success of the recent ITS (UK) Evening Reception on the Terraces of the Houses of Parliament has been widely recognised and reported through a diversity of e-mails, letters, messages and phone calls
The event took place at this prestigious setting overlooking the River Thames on a balmy evening in mid-June and afforded ITS (UK) to reflect just how far society has progressed in recent years whereby it can occupy a highly sought-after venue and converse directly with influential parliamentarians. Although the London Underground drivers’ industrial action coincided with the reception this did not dissuade the significant number of invited ITS (UK) Members from using their ITS travel planners as guides thereby guaranteeing timely arrival to a unique event at this celebrated setting.
Steve Norris and Mike Schofield made short speeches in their respective capacities as ITS (UK) President and Chairman with Theresa Villiers MP, the Shadow Secretary of State for Transport and the parliamentary host, responding. She recognised ‘intelligent transport’s’ current and future value and focused on how it can contribute to attaining environmental targets and helping with the delivery of transport projects that may be constrained by finite budgets.
As expected the main purpose of the reception was devoted to parliamentarians and transport experts engaging in lively conversation on how current and future mobility can be influenced by the important technological innovations that ITS bring. A range of documentation was available to reinforce the discussions; these included a recently published Parliamentary POSTnote on Intelligent Transportation, an ITS (UK) ‘one-page’ briefing note aimed at addressing issues and questions that Parliamentarians were likely to ask as well as sponsors’ corporate publications.
The right people
It will come as no surprise that considerable planning had been devoted to the event in preceding months to guarantee that the appropriate Parliamentarians and associated staff and agencies with a strong cross-representational attendance had been identified and invited. As a consequence the invitation lists included parliamentarians and associated staff and agencies that have both cross-party commitments and transport-related interests. This created the forum whereby parliamentarians and ITS (UK) Members were able to conduct valuable and informative dialogue on ITS related matters in an informal setting.
Prior to formal invitations being posted an introductory letter was sent to all invitees setting out the impact and the benefits that ITS can deliver. The event was made financially viable through sponsors’ contribution. The sponsors included Mouchel (Diamond), Logica and HS Technology Group (Gold), Kapsch, Egis, RedSpeed (Silver), and AECOM and ITSO (Bronze), whose details were prominently displayed throughout the evening as well as featuring on the ITS (UK) Members’ Houses of Parliament webpage. ITS (UK) is extremely grateful for their support and contribution, without which the event would not have taken place.
Time alone will tell just how effective the reception was in promoting ITS (UK) and its members’ interests; however, it would be foolish to merely ‘rest on one’s laurels’ and ITS (UK) intends capitalising on the event’s success and exploit the opportunities through a series of ‘follow-up’ activities and ongoing interaction with the parliamentarians to reinforce discussions on those issues that are ‘close to their heart’. Economists suggest that substantial public spending cuts will be necessary over the next few years and it is likely that all major projects, including transport programmes, will come ‘under the spotlight’ and may be susceptible to fore-closure.
What better opportunity therefore to ‘position’ ITS as efficient, effective and potentially cost-reducing technological options that the major political parties can incorporate into their manifestos as they vie for campaigning issues in the ‘run-up’ to the forthcoming general election. On more immediate reflection ITS (UK) can use the success of the event to contemplate how its profile has significantly advanced in recent years whereby it can occupy a highly desirable venue and invite its members to converse directly with influential parliamentarians.
Regardless of any other feedback it was a privilege to join colleagues in this exclusive setting and be able to celebrate ITS (UK)’s achievements since its inception in 1992. It goes without question that “we have come a long way in a short period of time” and only invites ITS (UK) to consider just how far it can go in a similar future timescale.