France’s difference when it comes to Intelligent Transportation Systems

Charlotte Louys - 20/06/14

 

The trend, across cities around the world, is for ever-higher densities in urban population. Benoît Perino, UBIFRANCE’s expert on Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITSs), says that, once a city reaches a critical size (i.e. a population density of up to 20,000 people per square kilometre), urban mobility becomes a paramount issue. Public-sector authorities need to solve such issues as to how to manage road traffic flows, give commuters up-to-the-minute information, and run efficient back-office payment systems to make these essential services financially viable. 

 

High tech makes a difference, and France has been a precursor in ITS technology for over 40 years now, designing and building ‘the future is now’ solutions. The ITS market in France is worth €4.5 billion per year?, generating 45,000 jobs. Naturally, Paris is the premier showcase, although every major French city displays impressive achievements in urban transportation.

 

In Paris, the métro is being automated and ‘traditional’ tickets are on their way out, being replaced by dematerialized Near Field Electronic paid-entry systems such as Navigo that whisk passengers through the turnstiles. Navigo will soon to be deployed across Thalys services — the bullet train serving the high-speed line between Paris and Brussels. One of the key players behind these ultra-efficient, yet complex, ticketing solutions is ERG Transit Systems SA — a specialist company capable of designing ITS ticketing systems for target groups of users ranging from 10,000 to 10 million passengers a day, in cities such as Hong Kong, Melbourne, Rome, Singapore, and maybe San Francisco soon.

 

Managing environmental impact and highway safety is a prime concern, and French technology has met another ITS challenge on its highways (the country’s autoroutes), providing traffic reports and free-flow tollbooth collection (or ETC, for Electronic Tolling Collection). This complex mix of infrastructure and back-office consolidation of on-line toll collection works now in the United States, while respecting each individual state’s strenuous and complicated guidelines for toll-collection management, yet still designing a reliable, interoperable system that makes financial sense.

 

Systems have also been designed to identify licence plates on trucks in order to apply the eco-tax, as the vehicles pass under electronic sensory equipment. Obviously, a variant of this multi-mode system is equipment that checks for vehicles exceeding the speed limit, combined with the processing of massive volumes of data in order to properly assess fines.

 

French players have developed solutions that are environmentally and user friendly. Autolib, introduced by Blue Solutions, Bolloré SA’s subsidiary, has put up to 1,800 electric cars on the streets of Paris and its region (with 59 suburbs of the French capital included in the scheme) – an environmentally friendly initiative soon to be launched in Indianapolis (USA), where the scheme will be known as Speedy Car.

 

Any visitor to Paris has seen, or perhaps even used, Vélib’ bikes to get around. The Vélib’ scheme, launched and managed by JC Decaux SA in 2007, maintains a fleet of 17,000 bicycles used by an average of 85,810 riders every day and extends to over 30 suburbs. The running of the Vélib’ scheme requires real-time back-office management software and a convenient, yet secure payment system — always the prime ingredients for a successful ITS.

 

What about the role of UBIFRANCE, France’s export-support agency ? UBIFRANCE interacts with the key players in the sector, such ATEC ITS France (www.atec-itsfrance.net), a professional association that brings all the ITS industry together in order to shape the public debate and lobby in favour of future land-based transportation projects. Another important player is TOPOS, an association that is particularly active in the south-west of France (www.tops-aquitaine.org) and has a special interest in developing geo-localization in the transportation field. In fact, a highlight with an international dimension for the entire sector will be the World Congress for ITS in Bordeaux (in south-western France), to be held from 5 to 9 October 2014.

 

As Benoît Perino of UBIFRANCE sees it, “There is a high potential for ITS in France and internationally. There are a lot of French SMEs with great, highly advanced technologies. Our role at UBIFRANCE is to accompany them, so that they can meet local operators and authorities throughout the world and have their technology integrated into turnkey projects.”

 

Further information about French companies:

 

BMIA

COMATIS

LOGIROAD

MIOS

Other companies in the field of urban transport

Other companies in the field of transportation

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About
The department of Infrastructure, Transport and Industry (ITI) facilitates business between French-based companies and Australian companies/agents/distributors. The ITI department also covers the sectors of environment, energy, mines and oil & gas. Most of our international companies such as Alstom, Areva, EADS, GDF, Suez, Technip, Thales, Total, Turbomeca, Veolia operate successfully in Australia thanks to partnerships and alliances with local companies.  Nevertheless, French SMEs could also bring their expertise and savoir faire when they team up with local players able to master the local context. In 2013, we are going to bring French delegations to AOG tradeshow (Oil & Gas). Feel free to contact us should your company be interested in connecting with potential French exporters. Arthur Lenoir, Senior Trade Advisor, arthur.lenoir@businessfrance.fr Alexandre Péquignot, Trade Advisor, alexandre.pequignot@businessfrance.fr  

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