Transport drives forward

As we are now beginning to see the signs of a fragile recovery, the 2010 Forum will emphasise the role that innovation must play in the future of the transport sector. Decision-makers, experts and practitioners from all modes will consider the transport systems of tomorrow, the barriers that must be overcome to get there, and the innovative technologies, policies and collaborations needed for success.

 In Canada, we recognise that innovation is key to increased productivity and long-term growth. Innovation allows society to solve problems and seize new opportunities. It allows businesses to thrive with novel products and more efficient processes.

Advancing strategies for future transport innovation can help drive the next generation of transportation productivity gains and help meet emerging challenges that confront the sector, such as aging infrastructure, congestion, climate change impacts and changing demographics.

In addition, the sector’s ability to strengthen its innovative capacity will determine future improvements in overall transportation system performance. For example, under our National Framework for Strategic Gateways and Trade Corridors, we have linked key transportation systems with global trade opportunities in three strategic geographic areas. The Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor leads through Vancouver and Western Canada to the heart of North America. Canada’s Atlantic Gateway provides unconstrained, reliable, and efficient access to North America from Asian markets via the Suez Canal, Canada, Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America. The Continental Gateway and Trade Corridor connects our industrial centre in Ontario and Quebec with the US.

This innovative approach is vital to maintaining our economic growth and quality of life, as transportation systems that move goods and people safely, securely and efficiently use fewer fossil fuels and are essential in a world dependent on global trade.

As part of our ongoing innovation in transportation, we continue to invest in intelligent transportation systems (ITS) to increase efficiency, facilitate trade, and enhance safety and security. In recognition of the importance of international co-operation, we have recently signed ITS collaboration agreements with the US, our biggest trading partner, in a mutual effort to increase our competitiveness, modernise infrastructure, and strengthen the safety and security of our supply chains.

Canada is also pursuing other technological improvements. For example, we are developing advanced technologies to meet the challenges of winter aviation operations and of changing permafrost. To foster environmental sustainability, we are providing significant support to municipalities to expand transit systems that reduce emissions and investing in demonstration projects to test and measure technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emission and air pollution. In other areas, we are creating and implementing intelligent infrastructure to monitor bridges and rail lines for signs of displacement or degradation. We are also actively involved in research to increase the security of air travellers, such as X-ray pattern matching analysis, whole-body imaging algorithms and explosives detection.

 International partnerships foster technological innovation through collaborative research. Together with our partners in China and the US, we are developing tools to monitor and track cargo containers as they travel on trucks, trains and ships.

Such partnerships will be essential in emerging areas like clean transportation and wireless information technologies. In today’s globalised economy, international collaboration is ensuring that deployments of important new and innovative technologies are made in ways that integrate transport systems across international boundaries, thereby creating more seamless and efficient movement of goods and people.

The 2010 Forum will allow for the further exchange of ideas and technologies to foster increased innovation. Together we can create safer, more efficient, secure and environmentally responsible transportation systems that benefit us all.

© OECD Observer No. 279, May 2010

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