The smartest show on Earth

Kevin Borras caught up with the human whirlwind that is Joyce de Winter, product manager of Intertraffic Amsterdam 2014, to ask what visitors can expect in the way of innovation.

For the fourth week of March, the RAI Convention Centre will be home to over 800 exhibitors from around the world, who will be showing off their products and solutions throughout six halls, taking up an area of approximately 60,000m². This year, the show lay-out is segmented into five themes: Infrastructure, ITS traffic management, safety, parking and smart mobility.

The central theme of this edition is the fifth of those segments, ‘smart mobility’. “The emphasis is on urban accessibility, personalized mobility services and making better use of roads,” says show manager Joyce de Winter, taking the helm for her second Intertraffic, “and on the role that advanced technology can play in developing innovative solutions for urban accessibility and traffic flow, with a keen eye for liveability and the environment.”

As H3B Media has just launched the Thinking Cities multimedia project, it seemed rather timely to ask Joyce about the show’s new focus. “The show this year is exploring the complexity of urban mobility and the role advanced technologies are playing in providing innovative solutions that support smart, liveable and connected cities,” she says. “We have therefore especially created the Smart Urban Mobility Platform in a dedicated hall. The emphasis is primarily on cooperative smart city solutions demonstrated through the Dutch pavilion. We are proud that all important Dutch parties, both private and public, will be present. The Netherlands envisions presenting a blueprint for cooperation structures and innovative urban solutions to deal with urban challenges worldwide. It is our aim for Intertraffic 2016 to add other cities and countries with their smart solutions to the programme so we can be a podium for a variety of global urbanization solutions.”

Smart Mobility Center

In Hall 9 of the Amsterdam RAI a Smart Mobility Center has been created featuring the latest products and services, mobility projects as well as trends and developments in the field of smart, safe and sustainable mobility. Attendees will see and experience virtual traffic centres, tools for optimal traffic guidance, multimodal journey planners, personalized in-car travel information systems, new forms of data collection, innovative cooperative technology for communication between roadside units and individual vehicles and between vehicles, driver assistance systems, congestion avoidance initiatives, parking applications, electrical vehicles, charging infrastructure etc.

Always a question to get out the way early on is just how big the show is in comparison to previous years in terms of exhibitors, delegates, square meterage? De Winter is rather pleased with the fact that she can answer in a positive fashion.

“The show is equal in size to the previous edition but we are actually rather pleased with that, as we are aware that other international shows are affected by the current economic situation and see a decrease in their square meterage and exhibitors. Fortunately it has not had an impact on Intertraffic and we are proud to stage yet another wonderfully all encompassing event.”

So how does the Intertraffic team ensure that visitor numbers can remain so steady in an era where many shows are seeing dwindling numbers?

“We offer many visitor benefits at no cost. Apart from the enormous display of exhibits, a comprehensive free-to-attend seminar and theatre programme is available to both visitors and exhibitors. The Smart Mobility Seminar, Theatre and Demonstration programme offers something for everyone. To name a few: examples of regional and urban traffic management, virtual traffic centres, presentations on social media and traffic management, big data and mobility, open parking data, the car park as a hub for mobility services – it’s a very long list, I am pleased to say!”

She continues “It’s a matter of making choices for professionals as well which event(s) to go to and it is nice to see that our authority in the market is reflected in the visitor attendance. We have the active support of our exhibitors to market the show and can rely on a steady base of key stakeholders. In addition, our spin-off events play a role in giving the brand a greater reach.”  

Structural changes

With a show with as much history as Intertraffic Amsterdam (the first event was held in 1972), implementing changes in the structure of the show can be a delicate process. Is it a case of Joyce and her colleagues seeing what can be done differently and acting upon it or do they rely on feedback from exhibitors and visitors alike?

“It actually works in both ways,” she replies. “As far as show content is concerned we do extensive research among exhibitors and visitors and use their feedback to meet and exceed future expectations. We also have regular meetings with an Exhibition Committee team consisting of industry representatives to keep a constant finger on the pulse of the market. Moreover, as professional exhibition organizers with a range of flagship events across various industries (such as water technology, professional cleaning) we are able to copy best practices across the company’s activities.”

Exhibitors come back to Intertraffic show after show – it seems, to a relative outsider, like an easy process but just how much work goes into ensuring that you look after their long-standing clients as well as trying to woo new ones shouldn’t be underestimated, as De Winter points out.

“We hold our customers in high regard and value a good personal relationship with them. Apart from visiting them and potential new customers at various trade shows we do engage in international road trips to pay personal visits. We try our utmost to attend to specific needs and requirements and of course we also keep a close eye on the developments of the market and as a result we often do further research to see whether a new theme should be introduced or a new target group should be approached,” she explains.

Innovation Station

In addition to the Smart Mobility Center, Intertraffic 2014 also sees the debut of the Innovation Lab, an activity platform located in the RAI Elicium. The Innovation Lab will be the stage for the Intertraffic Innovation Award announcement and visitors will be able to browse through the individual nominee’s details via iPods. Throughout the show the podium will be host to seminars, workshops, debates and presentations from 11.00 to 16.00 hours daily, Tuesday to Thursday. The sessions will last from 30 to 60 minutes and are free to attend and there is no need to sign up in advance. The schedule will be published online, is available onsite and via the Intertraffic app. And, to help visitors (and exhibitors) get around the halls without getting lost, a new indoor navigation app has been launched.

“This brand new application uses the latest technologies to give access to all the uploaded exhibitor information, a QR code-based precise location and destination navigator and much more. The app has been available for download since the middle of March and has proved to be very popular,” concludes Joyce. And don’t forget when you see her on the carpeted aisles, stop her and tell you what you think of the show. It’s the smart thing to do.

Joyce De Winter is product manager, Intertraffic Amsterdam