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Saturday , 20 April 2024

Exuberant, Exceptional…

  • Impressive assemblage of Government officials, Technology providers & seekers, Traffic/Transport professionals across the country
  • Showcasing of technology for multiple verticals of mobility space including e-mobility & new mobility
  • Impressive presence of major exhibitors
  • Open and bold deliberations at the conference sessions

Thank you, Nitin Gadkariji

It has been the rarest of honours. Having India’s “Infrastructure Man’ amongst us. His presence, sincerity, commitment, and the involvement in all that is connected to infrastructure development & improved mobility, amazed everyone at the venue. Walking through the aisles, visiting the booths, interacting, suggesting, appreciating innovations and technology and even learning too, the Minister transformed the Expo into a perfect happening in the traffic/transport sector as he would plan, revive and transform any road project into a vital link in India’s economic and social progress.

It is not surprising, as he has been dreaming and totally immersed in road infrastructure development & sustainable funding models and green mobility over the last three decades.

Admired and called as the flyover man (he completed 55 flyovers in Maharashtra as the PWD Minister), he has been focusing on multiple projects to expand the length and breadth of road connectivity in India. Proving that roads are the biggest enablers for socio-economic growth.

The Minister had recently stated that the total length of national highways across India has increased from about 91,287km in April 2014 to about 140,937km till the end of November this year. The per-day construction of roads increased to 38km. Construction of a 2.5km, 4 lane concrete road on Mumbai Delhi Expressway within 24 hours and a 26km single lane bitumen road on Solapur-Bijapur stretch in 22 hours received special attention.

His vision in conjunction with the National Vision (to become a 5 trillion-dollar economy in the next five years), is to interconnect every aspect of mobility and putting in place progressive programmes for funding, benefiting the common man as well. His dream, he says, is to give safe and fast travel from Ladakh to Kanyakumari!

Gadkari understands that the growth has to be multi-dimensional– revival of old projects, new expressways & highways, Bharatmala and Sagarmala connectivity, improved water transport, e-mobility, flexi fuel vehicles , encouraging automobile sector, bringing down logistic cost, creating logistics parks, tunnels, increasing road safety, adoption of technology….. yes, we give up. One cannot keep up with his plans and projects. He is faster than the fast connectivity he is envisaging!

We cannot wait for the next event and look forward to the visit of Hon’ble Minister again. More excitement, more innovations!

As the 9th edition of TrafficInfraTech Expo, Parking InfraTech Expo and Smart Mobility Expo came to a close on October 28, the atmosphere at Hall no 2, in Pragati Maidan, New Delhi was filled with jubilations mixed with disbelief as the Show, coming just after Covid recovery, went far beyond the expectations by all – Exhibitors, Visitors, Delegates and even the organisers! The inauguration of the Show at the hands of Hon’ble Minister for Roads Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari gave the Expo the much-needed acceleration and momentum. Lighting the lamp along with him were Dr. V K Saraswat, Member, Niti Aayog and Lt Col. Rajeev Chaudhry, Director General, Border Roads, Prof. Satish Chandra, Director, CSIR-Central Road Research Institute; Expo partners and dignitaries. The Minister stated that he was really impressed with the industry coming up with innovative solutions for the Indian Transportation system.

“I would like to congratulate all those who have facilitated organising this exhibition on road safety and infrastructure technology. I am giving my full support and best wishes to all of them. Any new technology which is successful in the world, we are ready to accept.”

-Shri. Nitin Gadkari, Hon’ble Minister, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways

The show was supported by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, NITI Aayog, National Highways Authority of India, CRRI, ASRTU, APSA, AMTOI, SMEV, BOCI, NHBF and other organisations.

Encouraging Responses

The venue was resonating with positive sentiments fuelled by the presence of senior officials from the Ministry, NHAI, transport related central & state Government departments, decision makers and serious trade visitors.

“What made the show exceptionally successful was the presence of the decision makers from across the Government departments”

“It is more to do with the quality of visitors whom we have been able to meet, than the numbers…”

“We could meet those people whom we have been trying to meet for so long…”

“It was in 2015 show we participated first and the show has been growing year on year. We are here this year and will be here every year…

“This is the first time we are participating in this show… we have received tremendous reponse… we will participate next year as well…

“Never seen such combination of technology, convergence, knowledge sharing and of course Business”

“The visitors included young engineers wanting to learn and explore”

“This in-person exhibition and discussions have restored confidence among us to do business as before”

“We have gained contacts, probably much more than what Google would have given us during Covid times”

Adding to the endorsements, Dr. VK Saraswat, Member, Niti Aayog, who made a powerful keynote address at the opening session, said.“ India’s vision is about roads, technology, digital transformation, electric vehicles, connected vehicles, sustainable mobility and many more. And the Expo and the conference too reflected that vision.”

Lt. Gen Rajeev Chaudhry, Director General, Border Roads, in his special addressed said that he was privileged to be part of the expo and be with the Traffic/transport experts. “It is a great day for me to be here where best of the minds and best of the people from the industry come together.”

I K Pandey, Director General (RD) & Special Secretary, MoRTH too agreed that the expo and the Conference have been very well designed and executed. As a keynote speaker at the session on tunnels, he promised that the issues brought out by the participants will be looked into by the Government.

Amit Kumar Ghosh, Additional Secretary, Highways, MoRTH said, “The expo showcased wide range of testing/evaluation equipment and software’s domain for pavement testing, structural health monitoring of bridge/ROB and tunnel monitoring, mobile bridge inspection unit, sonic subsurface scanner, NDT equipment, laboratory equipment of universal asphalt testing machine, cloud-based integrated software solutions for transport and infrastructure for Road Asset and Bridge Management system and AI for roads.”

“The Expo brought the Government, stakeholders and Highway developers on one platform for consultation and deliberated upon road safety issues laying emphasis particularly on development of highway infrastructure.”

It was interesting the way Dr. GVR. Shastri, Sr. Economist & Chairman- Coastal India Development Council summed up the event. “I could see, for the first time, India is heading for integrated, emerging dynamics in the supply chain management successfully, adopting infrastructural and technological development under one roof.”

Another notable aspect has been the interest shown by the different agencies, including city authorities and Smart City implementers on the various parking technologies and solutions showcased..

The fact that the Expo was one of the early post Covid shows did not affect the foot fall at the venue. Over 3000 quality visitors from across India made the expo hall active and kept the exhibitors on their feet. The visitor segments spanned central & state departments, Police department, STUs, highway and transport departments, PWDs; City Transport Services; Municipal Corporations, City Development Authorities; infrastructure companies, Smart City projects, Turnkey projects, Metro/Railways, Airports, Consulting companies, Hotels, healthcare or even malls & multiplexes.

Talking of Trends

Webinars, Conference calls, social media posts… technology was giving a helping hand. However, TrafficInfraTech magazine did make use of the opportunity to talk to a few solution providers and experts to find out if there had been new trends and challenges.

The most visible trend has been the move towards digital transformation and Clean/Green technologies in every segment of mobility i.e., service delivery, fare collection, asset management, operations management, security & enforcement etc., Especially those in Government are pushing for digital mobility solutions which can enhance productivity for operator/service provider and service quality to user.

According to Sandeep Pawar – MD & CEO, Kent ITS, Expo’s platinum partner, once the ETC FasTAG became mandatory, the trends in tolling started changing. “Across the country our daily collection of FasTAG has gone up from Rs.65 Cr to 105Cr, so this is a big leap. Everybody is geared up, I am happy, NPCI, the insurer banks, acquirer banks and the system integrators are part of this technology implementation. Everybody is coming up with good products, good developments to ease out the customer, rather make him happy. Our product TL booster to be implemented in the hybrid ETC lanes to enable free flow mode was launched by the Minister at the Vitaran booth at the expo.”

It is felt that we have now entered a new level in Highway Traffic Management. The fast execution of highways and expressways has turned the focus on to commuter safety. NHAI and IHMCL have come up with circulars for Advanced Traffic Management Systems where in systems for video incident detection and speed enforcement are the major thrust areas. Says Ravikiran Ghaisas of LogicMo System, “Radar based speed detection or speed enforcement systems will play an important role in road safety. FASTag implementation is also now taking up a lot of pace. Here the key factors are advanced and stable hardware and software for collection of toll through FasTAG. The challenge now is to sustain more than 99% readability of tags.”

Rajaram Subramaniam, MD, Safebarrier International, also a platinum partner, feels that the realisation by both the government and the developers that the crash barriers should be performing and go beyond being an ornamental add on to the roads is very welcome. With the quality crash tested barriers of international quality coming in, the Government needs to take care that these are made available and lives are saved. “I would not like to go into the numbers but it is a process of evolution, I mean, we are getting into the next level of quality products. So, it is just a process which will go on.”

According to Parampreet Singh, Director, Avantech Engineering Consortium Pvt Ltd, the safety of two wheeler users has also to be equally addressed. The company has introduced a crash tested barrier designed for safety of two-wheeler users. In India, two wheelers are the main mode of commute for a large section of the society. “There should be added focus on safety of two-wheeler users in our country.”

Mallesh Cheekoti, Managing Director & CEO Intelex Systems, the first-time exhibitor at the show agrees that going by the response his company received for its solution, Fleetly – a video-based fleet management system, there has been a lot of advancement with regard to road safety in India today. “We provide AIS-140 compliant vehicle tracking solutions for the commercial fleet industry in India. Alongside, there is a need for more advanced driver assistance systems combined with risk management and driver coaching to improve road safety and reduce fatalities to near zero. The trend today goes beyond fleet management to improve efficiency and to provide safety to road users.”

Ajay Rao, Head – RFID, Identity solutions & Government vertical (India & Subcontinent), Zebra Technologies India Pvt Ltd is of the opinion that the maturity of the audience in terms of utilization of RFID Technology has increased. “In tolling itself, there is a larger scale utilization in logistics, operation of gates, surveillance etc. With the government focusing on the fast track segment, the application levels will be increasing. The trend I am seeing is that RFID will find application beyond tolling from e-challans to smart city.”

Senthil Mariappan, CEO, DataCorp Traffic Private Limited sees more changes in trends connected to video analytics, ITS and artificial intelligence. The trend is also towards active travel. The pandemic has actually changed the way we travel and most countries across the globe are focusing more on active travel which includes pedestrians and bicyclists. The governments are also spending billions of dollars into active travel planning. Our smart sensor can actually monitor active travel which is happening on the infrastructure. These sensors actively monitor the active travel and sends a report back to the control centre in real time.

Raghupathi C, Microcom Pty Ltd t/a MetroCount observes that with Smart Cities wanting to encourage bicycle lanes, bicycle monitoring and even EV vehicle detection systems have to be put in place like in many global cities.

One of the newer mandates for public transport is safety of vehicles and women, says Yashwanth V Gurukar, Managing Director Kalyana Karnataka Road Transport Corporation. The bus operators are depending more on solutions that would help analyse routes and schedule them better.

Venkata Chunduru, Director, IBI Group, India says that most of the agencies are now focused around implementing digital solutions for enhancing their operational efficiencies, safety, and payment collection. COVID crisis clearly enabled the leapfrogging of digital transformation in mobility, whether public transport operators or city traffic enforcement agencies or road safety authorities they all are resorting to digital solutions to fix their day to day challenges.

Exhibitors with parking solutions agree that there is increased interest in the parking systems; “It’s like a new technology, people have not seen many parking systems before. The trend is to understand how the systems work, where are these to be installed and how the problems and challenges can be solved. The Government organizations, the metro rail departments and the rail transport organizations are taking parking technologies and design seriously now,” says Aditya Bhave of Klaus Multiparking Systems.

The feedback from the exhibitors has been extremely encouraging to know that they were completely satisfied with the event. A show of this magnitude with restrictions still around would not have been possible without the strong partnership the organisers have been cementing with the stakeholders of the Indian Mobility space over the years.

Launches and Launches

New products and innovations stole the show. The ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ mindset was palpable all around.

PRAMA, India’s Premier Video Security Brand and a coffee table book was launched by the Hon’ble Minister Nitin Gadkari. The Minister also unveiled TL Booster introduced by Vitaran and Kent ITS that is expected to hasten FASTag processes.

Another launch has been Automatic Raised Rib Marking Machines from Shri Balaji Road Marking Machines, to reduce fatalities. Says, Nitin Nakhat, Managing Director, “As roads get faster, we also need to get safer roads. The audio tactile tile markings help a sleepy driver wake up as soon as the tyre hits the line. The vibration and sound caused by this action will immediately notify the driver.”

The new products included India made 4D radar system, RFID solutions for inventory management, warehouse management, supply chain management etc, barriers crash tested in an internationally EN accredited test house in Europe, ATMS, Adaptive Signal Management, Sliding Gate, Fixed bollards, All- rounder traffic cameras, high performance speed radar, construction management solutions, Multilane free flow tolling collection systems, handheld terminals, Automatic Fare collection Systems, Smart Parking Solutions…

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