On 8th November 2020, IRF’s President Mr. Bill Halkias, PE, F. ASCE, F. ITE delivered by video an opening speech on one of the most prominent global events of our sector: The World Transport Convention (WTC) 2020 organised by China Highway Transportation Society (CHTS) in Chengdu, China.
Mr. Halkias was hoping to physically attend the World Transport Convention, as the President of the IRF for the first time. However, what the pandemic prevent, technology permitted it. At the very beginning Mr. Halkias thanked the Executive Committee and the China Highway Transportation Society for their invitation, pointing out that China Highway Transportation Society and the IRF are friends since many years, supporting each other, and that IRF is very grateful for that.
The Organising Committee worked hard against all current odds and arranged an excellent and safe event bringing people together physically and others virtually, in order to share know-how and expertise.
The points Mr. Halkias was asked to comment on by the WTC Executive Committee, were some of the main issues the global road sector is facing which coincide with the key topics that IRF is working on. Those points were summarised under four issues: Collaborative Development, Digital Transformation, Intelligent Construction and Maintenance and Intelligent Mobility.
The IRF President stated that “if there’s something that this pandemic has taught us, is the importance of working together. The times when we worked in silos, for our own agenda, have long gone. Synergies, partnerships and joined forces, will lead us to the next day and are our Organisation’s DNA. Therefore, collaborative development comes in line with our mission and, on our behalf, we are doing our outmost to facilitate it”.
He went on to say that digital transformation is no longer optional, it’s mandatory. Digitalisation of our sector will be an essential game-changer and will lead to effective road asset management and sustainable use of resources.
Moving on to intelligent construction and maintenance, he pointed out that there is one thing we all need to do: encourage innovation not just in techniques and materials but, also, in infrastructure use. This means that we need to encourage the use of more sustainable products, techniques and services in order to open the way to green transition, which sets the foundations for a sustainable future.
Last but not least, the IRF President called on every one to embrace intelligent mobility and focus on how to build new state of the art roads, together with upgrading the existing networks. We need to do that in order to create a truly safe, sustainable and efficient multi- modal transportation system while aiming at lowering greenhouse gases and creating a climate resilient infrastructure.
Of course, the role of the IRF to the development of the global road sector, is more than substantial. Credible data is what we need for all the above. IRF’s annual World Road Statistics provide useful and valuable insights to all our stakeholders.
The IRF President concluded, saying that synergies, digitalisation, intelligent construction and intelligent mobility offer our sector a one-of-a-kind opportunity. A chance to play an essential role in making sure that all parts of this emerging new ecosystem will keep working together, on a common vision, while ensuring seamless and safe transportation for all.