Speech by Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, at the opening of Intertraffic Amsterdam, 20 March 2018

Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen spoke March 20 at the Intertraffic Exhibition about smart mobility. ‘In the years ahead I want to take things forward. I want 2018 to go down as the year smart mobility truly took off. From startup to scale-up!’, according to the minster.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to this leading trade event for traffic technology.
I am the new minister in charge with infrastructure and water management and the first few months were so successful and impressive that the startup Kitty Hawk unveiled the world’s first electric, self-flying air taxi and named it Cora.
Just like me!
I’m incredibly flattered, as I’m sure you will understand.
Well of course this is not true but it’s a nice story.
Just for the record, the first flying car was developed right here in the Netherlands. The PAL-V.
But I admit the name is a little less poetic.

These are just two of the many innovations taking off in the transport and mobility sector.
We have some exciting times ahead.

The key question we need to answer in the years to come is this:
How can we use all these smart mobility innovations to our advantage?
In order to improve accessibility, safety and liveability.

Because the challenges we face are many:
Mobility continues to grow.
Our infrastructure is being stretched to the limit.
The number of road traffic fatalities is on the rise again.
And liveability and air quality are at stake.

Smart mobility gives us a chance to tackle these challenges effectively.
Developments in this area are taking place at a dazzling rate; today’s innovations are outdated tomorrow.
This trade fair will give visitors a taste of this dynamic sector and of the magic of technology.

In the years ahead I want to take things forward.
I want 2018 to go down as the year smart mobility truly took off.
From startup to scale-up!
Let’s get this show on the road!

Ladies and gentlemen,

I want to roll out innovations that are ready to help us make traffic more efficient, safe and sustainable.
And I want to do this together with the market and other public bodies.
So how do we achieve this goal?

First, I want to ensure our infrastructure is ready for connected and automated driving.
To keep our country accessible, competitive and futureproof.
Preparing for the future starts today!
I want to sit down with other road operators and the automotive and telecom sector.
To discuss what infrastructure we’ll need in order for the new generation of vehicles to deliver the greatest gains to society.

What we certainly need is digital connectivity for vehicle-to-infrastructure communication.
So I’m stimulating developments like 5G.
I will fight as a giga bith for every extra gigabit.
To make communication possible, we’re also installing smart traffic lights – twelvehundred of them before the end of the year.
The first working models are showcased here at the fair.

We’ll also introduce the most innovative technologies along the TULIP corridors, from Amsterdam to Antwerp and from Rotterdam to the Ruhr.

Here, I want to work with Germany and Belgium to make autonomous transport and innovative traffic management a reality.
So that − in a few years’ time – we will be able to have convoys of at least 100 trucks platooning on these routes.
Steps like this are necessary drivers of change.
One day, we will even have self-driving containers on the roads at night.

Second, I want to enable the next generation of vehicles to actually take the road.
What use are smart roads if the law won’t let smart cars on them?
So I’m creating a legal framework for automated driving.
Laying down requirements for reliability and safety that cars must meet before they can hit the road.
A driving licence for self-driving cars, if you like. Not for the driver – but for the car itself!

Yesterday’s unfortunate news about a deadly accident in the state of Arizona where a self-driving car was involved, shows even more how important reliability and safety are - for all concerned.
As you will understand, I will closely follow the investigation into the circumstances of the accident.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Despite all the talk about innovative technologies, my first concern is with road users.
Humans are the weakest link. Human error accounts for 90 per cent of road accidents.
Yet research shows that only 17 per cent of drivers with cars equipped with advanced driver assistance systems actually use them.

And finally, I want to create room for new transport concepts and make sure people can use them easily.
For instance, ‘mobility as a service’ – transport that’s available when you need it, to wherever you want to go, using your choice of transport modes.
Together with the private sector we will test this concept in seven different cities and regions.
I’ll also help cities and regions to experiment with new transport concepts like car sharing, ride sharing and self-driving pods.
These trials will show us what works and what doesn’t.

So, in a nutshell, my priorities for the next few years are: creating new infrastructure that’s futureproof,
making room for a new generation of vehicles and
introducing new transport concepts.

I’m well aware, too, of the need for setting and monitoring conditions that aim to protect the public interest.
And of the need for clear rules on data use, security and privacy.

Of course, central government is only one of the actors.
The private sector, subnational authorities, transport companies and the logistics sector all play an important role in achieving our goals.
So working together will be crucial.
Only then will ambitions  become reality.

You can see a good example of cooperation here at the fair. It’s Talking Traffic – a partnership between public and private parties which is developing innovative traffic technologies.

The partnership has already delivered concrete results, which use the existing telecommunication networks.
In fact, the first services are available as of today!

Personal alerts for traffic jams, slow-moving traffic or sudden weather changes.
Now available to more than a million road users!
Predictive technology that’s available in real time.

Ladies and gentlemen,

If we want to move forward, we need brains, balls and bucks.
So I call on all of you – industry, IT companies, innovators – to work on smart solutions together.
Help us, work with us, and create the scope for smart mobility – quickly and in tangible ways.

Open data – giving vehicles, traffic apps and journey planners access to public traffic information – is a key condition for achieving the mobility transition.

For my part, I assure you that I’m fully committed.
I will do my part in policy and regulations.
And I will do my part as a road authority and as your partner in creating value and business. Because I want to make our infrastructure futureproof, keep our cities attractive, our country sustainable and our road users as safe as possible. We’re here this morning to mark the opening of this trade fair.
Let this also be the starting signal for accelerating smart mobility.

And of course, when Intertraffic holds its next event, I hope to arrive in a self-flying Cora!

Thank you.