31 May 2023 | Collaboration | Our Work

View from the top: Part of the Steamroller or the Road

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the ITS European Congress.

Not only did LCRIG organise the UK Pavilion for the DfT/Innovate UK’s Transport Technology Forum, but we also took a range of SMEs with us. You can read more on how the event went here.

I was rapporteur at the Congress, which is a great way to attend sessions whilst providing information for the post congress report. To see the types of technology being used across European cities, the policies being introduced and the challenges, not dissimilar to those faced here, was a real eye-opener on occasions.

I also took part in a panel in front of a large audience. With my tongue firmly in my cheek, there was a bit of a US vs UK standoff. Two of us from the UK and two from the US on the subject of “Overhyped Technology”, with each of us coming from very different backgrounds.

It was interesting to hear our American colleagues citing the problems of over-hyped marketing and investors drive to make “technology” seem exciting. Of course, other things were suggested, but it was an intriguing insight and of course true in some cases. I know a quick search of Hansards (The official report of all Parliamentary debates) will sometimes reveal surprising technologies as far back as 1800s that are still be touted now as emerging. I talked about the challenges of legislators being on the back foot, as technology rushes ahead and politicians role in this.

This leads me neatly to expand on the title of this “View from the Top”. The full quote is by Stewart Brand, American Author and visionary thinker, who wrote “Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.” It was part of a cautionary saying to think beyond investing in the usual. However, as a quote it speaks to me and one that I truly believe in our sector we must continue to be alive to new technologies, and new innovations whilst spotting fads.

If you want to read more about what I’ve been looking at take a look at my long form article on interesting things happening that could impact our sector. You can read it here.