Speech given by Minister Sanna Marin at the Digital Transport Days conference 8 October 2019

Ministry of Transport and Communications
Publication date 8.10.2019 15.05
News item
Minister of Transport and Communications Sanna Marin, Digital Transport Days 2019 (Photo: Ministry of Transport and Comunications)
Minister of Transport and Communications Sanna Marin, Digital Transport Days 2019 (Photo: Ministry of Transport and Comunications)

Speech given by Minister of Transport and Communications Sanna Marin at the Digital Transport Days conference, 8 October 2019.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am glad to see so many of you here today.

I will start by noting that a lot has happened since Digital Transport Days was organized last time in Tallinn 2017. This field goes forward so rapidly that it is fruitful sometimes to stop to discuss together what is going on. Only then can we take a moment to see what actually is the European viewpoint to digital solutions for transport and mobility.

During these three days, a vast spectrum of crucial issues will be addressed. I hope that we will make the most out of this excellent opportunity to share our views and best practices.

In my view, digitalisation and servitization of transport are important opportunities for Europe's sustainable growth. Therefore, we must make full use of the opportunities digital transformation is opening up for us.

The motto for the Finnish Presidency in the transport and communications sector is "Smart connections for sustainable growth". It reflects the coming together of transport and communications services in the digital era.

The economic potential of digitalisation and artificial intelligence is expected to be enormous, and Europeans need to be a driving force in tapping into these developments.

Transport is one of the sectors in which this is highlighted.

For our Presidency, we have identified four strategic focus themes in the area of transport, which are: Digital Transport Services, Safe Automation, Carbon-Free Transport and Data Economy.

For us, the four themes are closely interconnected. For example, digital transport services and automation are largely based on the more effective use of data. Furthermore, with the help of new technologies, we can also ensure significant emission reductions in the transport sector.

I believe that reliable and customer-driven transport services form the backbone of a functional society.

Services must be created for the needs of customers, which is at the heart of Mobility as a Service (Maas) concept. Enabling safe and smooth transport chains will benefit not only the customer but also the whole Europe.

Transport servicification means the creation of new sustainable business activities and more efficient transport system. Furthermore, MaaS offers an opportunity to reach climate goals in Europe.

Our common goal should be to make service development possible in all transport sectors. We all want to have transport services that are easy to use, accessible and function well together.

However, there is still work to be done on the way different transport services are combined into smooth travel chains.

In this work, data is the key.

Transport services, like any other service, are nowadays data-driven. Huge amounts of data is being produced and used - and the trend is growing. Success in a global operating environment depends on how competent people and organisations are in producing, understanding and making use of data.

Yet it is quite commonly agreed that the potential of the data economy have not been reached.

The transport sector is one of the first sectors where the better use of data can take us towards sustainable and clean future. For example, MaaS-services and autonomous driving are being developed at an increasing pace thanks to data use.

We believe, that unlocking the potential of data in society will require a common vision in the EU. And the vision should be us building a human-centric, thriving and balanced data economy.

First of all, we must turn the focus on the humans, the people. Now our focus is often in technology or in organisations. This shift is what we mean with human-centricity.

The change begins with empowering individuals. It is not enough to have digital rights in legal texts. We need to see them concretely in our everyday life. For example, we need easy to use tools for consumers to manage access to their data and the reuse of their data. I am happy if mobility services are able to pioneer this approach in their mobile applications.

The thriving-part means that there are conditions to unlock the use of data for innovation and growth. we strongly believe that a more balanced data sharing benefits all. So we need action to provide a more level playing field for all actors and sectors - big and small, public and private.

Second, we need more data sharing. The transport sector is a good example. Transport service providers too need to start sharing more their data. In Finland, this is already happening - essential transport service data must be shared in an electronic format so that new mobility services can better be provided. But I would like to see mobility services offered throughout Europe and that we cannot do without data sharing.

The EU has taken its first steps in data sharing in the transport sector, which is good. But I am looking forward to the discussion on access to ticketing systems so that combined tickets could be sold more easily.

We want to contribute to this work on the European data economy during our Presidency. That is why we have been working on horizontal data principles. We hope that they can guide the European work. They can be applied in all sectors, including transport and mobility. The finalized principles will be released in the Data Economy Conference in November and discussed also by telecom ministers in December.

Promoting automation is one of the central means of improving innovation and growth in Europe. It also helps to fulfil societal goals such as transport safety.

There are still more than 25,000 annual road fatalities in Europe. If we wish to eliminate these and reach the so-called Vision Zero, very ambitious short and longterm goals must be set.

Also with the transport automation, we should first create the vision of the future we wish to achieve. With transport automation three major things needs to be done.

First of all, even with automation we should make sure that the humans come first. For example, respect for basic human rights must be the starting point of all development and use of autonomous and intelligent systems (or AI, Artificial Intelligence). Human-centricity in transport automation means also requiring transparency of algorithms. This way it is possible to evaluate the systems, their information security and assess the grounds that they base their decisions on.

Secondly, likewise with transport services, data is the very basis of the transport automation. Also transport automation needs the decentralized data management infrastructure. We are happy to witness good progress towards open standards, structured data sets and model agreements for example in logistics.

Thirdly, we need a regulatory environment that allows the development of the transport automation for the benefit of us all. Regulations needs to become less technical and more enabling and goal-based. The principle of neutrality of technologies and solutions is also of great importance here.

Finland seeks to promote ambitious emission reduction targets in all modes of transport. It is a fact that transport is one of the sectors where cost-effective emission reductions can be made. With this in mind, carbon-Free transport must be our long-term goal.

Digitalization and new technologies have a key role in enabling and encouraging lower emissions in transport. I believe that by making the most of digital solutions in the transition to service-based mobility systems, we will promote a shift towards inclusive, sustainable and efficient mobility.

The transport system should support customers so that the transport alternative with the lowest emissions is the easiest and cheapest choice for them. For instance, by combining traditional public transport services and new mobility services, we can create an attractive alternative to private car ownership.

What I am saying here is that digitalization it is not only making transport safer - it is making it greener. This is the reason why the possibilities of digitalization and automation in emissions reductions should be fully exploited.

Ladies and gentlemen,

in transport sector we are moving from digitizing to real digitalization. This will change the ways we move, work and live.

The change towards the unknown may prompt fear and resistance. Building trust between different parties is essential and will only be possible by increasing cooperation.

If we want change, we must have the courage to change.

I look forward to ideas and solutions that will be presented during the Digital Transport Days. We wish to continue discussions on sustainable, digital transport services in the next meeting of the Transport Council in December.

Thank you for your attention. I wish you a fruitful and successful discussions in the days to come.