Coronavirus, the greatest test for innovation

Let’s start working immediately for the maximum diffusion of technology and ITS in the post-crisis

By Olga Landolfi, Secretary General of TTS Italia

Coronavirus will be the litmus test for digital, innovation and technology in Italy. This unexpected and extremely difficult situation for the whole world has affected an Italy that within a few days had to draw on a series of skills that have put institutions, businesses and individual citizens in front of the possibilities offered by the technological leap.

In a weekend, smart working has become mandatory in the public administration and for many private companies, highway traffic has fallen by 56%, the transport of people by rail and road has drastically decreased, up to -90% in cities hardest hit, like Milan for example. Goods logistics managed the impact admirably, allowing the supply of drugs, food and other basic necessities throughout the country. But, after the initial shock, the limits of the system appeared: 11 million people in our country live without an Internet connection, the corporate networks have been saturated, unprepared to cope with a growing demand for traffic.

Italy is serving years of neglect in investments for technology and innovation - comments - As an Association we will work so that in the post-crisis reconstruction phase all necessary measures are taken to accelerate the contribution of innovation and technology in mobility. Already before this period of serious discomfort, TTS Italia had started many initiatives to support the spread of intangible infrastructures which, as we have been able to test even in these days, help in crisis situations, but they can represent an extraordinary driving force of growth in the reconstruction phase to create a resilient system and increasingly qualified employment.

We should not forget in particular at a time like this the great help that ITS can give in terms of the country's competitiveness. We have said on more than one occasion and it is worth repeating even now that the revitalization of Italy and the economy must also pass from the full implementation of smart mobility.

TTS Italia will work to ensure that all of this is taken into account in the reconstruction phase by completing the initiatives already started such as our working groups on logistics and MaaS, but also by adhering to projects aimed at improving the post-Covid 19 recovery such as Logistics Think Tank.

Actually, TTS Italia is one of the associations that joined the first Think Tank of Logistics, officially launched in these days, coordinated by the Freight Leaders Council and supported by Ebilog (Bilateral Body of the sector) with the aim of comparing the best resources of the transport and logistics, both in scientific and business terms, in order to examine and constructively face the challenges facing logistics.

The pressing sequence of events linked to the evolution of Covid 19 has convinced us of the need to accelerate the confrontation within the sector to prepare for reconstruction. We need to study the emergency and contingent actions and prepare an action plan for the aftermath. What will institutions, companies and the country system have to do to give a structural sense to all the sacrifices we are facing now? I believe that we must take advantage of the dialogue that has opened up between the government and associations on the Coronavirus as an exceptional opportunity to remove useless laces and make our system simpler, more immediate and direct. The second is to use any funding that the government should make available for a Marshall digitization plan. We must go back to being the main protagonists of innovation in logistics.

Logistics and the sprint towards digital and innovation is at the heart of the Logistics working group launched by TTS Italia at the end of last year. Even this activity, which did not stop during the emergency, continuing its work online, is now evaluating the possibilities of the post-crisis. We are receiving the contributions of the various associations and companies involved. Among these, I would like to point out an excellent contribution to the safe parking areas which currently are only two in Italy and which represent a great support to the increase in the competitiveness of road freight transport.

Among the other open dossiers, there is the study of ways to reduce waiting times and storage of goods at interchange hubs such as ports, freight villages, airports also through the digitization of documents, the promotion of intermodality and comodality road-rail-sea, through the use of ITS systems, designed to create telematic platforms, at the logistic nodes, which allow to simplify and speed up operational and administrative processes. The works also focus on improving the logistics chain relating to the port sector, through the dissemination of blockchain technology for exchanges of information and transactions in real time. Finally, great attention also to city logistics, with the development of innovative technological systems to optimize the process of delivery of goods (route planning, booking of loading and unloading areas, monitoring and tracking of vehicles and loads, limitation of dwell times).

Finally, the working group on MaaS (Mobility as a Service), started end of January and coordinated by 5T, will also be able to make a great contribution to the post-crisis recovery. The study of this group includes customized user-friendly mobility solutions, the possibility of purchasing ad hoc mobility service packages and the experimentation of remote payment methods. Certainly useful systems in a moment of slow and gradual return to normality, where however prevention measures will continue to be important elements for the good of the community.

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