April 15, 2020

Dave Ungemah, Vice President & Director, Transportation Operations Strategy Business Line, WSP USA
Steve Kuciemba, National ITS & C/AV Practice Lead, WSP USA

The closing ceremonies for the 2019 ITS World Congress seem like they just occurred. In truth, the “Smart Mobility, Empowering Cities” event was hosted in beautiful Singapore just five months ago.

We’re now 172 days away from the 2020 ITS World Congress, being hosted in downtown Los Angeles. As we continue to plan for California, Dave Ungemah and Steve Kuciemba, both transportation leaders with ITS America member company WSP, reflected on their time at last year’s event and what they are most looking forward to this fall.


First of all, gentlemen: How many World Congresses have you attended?

DU: I’ve attended at least 3 over the last 10 years or so. I specialize in congestion pricing and roadway tolling; so the key attraction for me in Singapore was to learn more about the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) program. Likewise, when I attended the World Congress in Melbourne in 2016, I was focused heavily on the Australian’s concepts for freeway management. 

SK: I’ll have to do an official count, but I think I’m at 14!

Did you have any favorite sessions in Singapore?

SK: Most of the sessions I attended were focused on connected vehicle technology– with US practitioners facing the 5.9GHz spectrum reallocation issues and the challenges of both DSRC and C-V2X, it’s extremely helpful to get a global perspective on different experiences and other regions’ “lessons learned.” The beauty of the World Congress is seeing these topics mature and change. For years here, “511” was the star topic. Now with the fruits of labors in this industry, we’re seeing much more on the advanced tech side. In the future, I think we’ll still see a lot on connected vehicles – certainly in Hamburg in 2021.  In general, I think the quality of sessions has improved with every year!

DU: Agreed. The WC is the closest to a “TRB-like” experience, with exposure to a variety of different topics. The sessions I found most interesting were those dealing with cross-cutting issues, like “big data.” How can this knowledge be used for differing purposes?   Even topics like managed lanes are evolving – now we’re also discussing how you use this idea to test AVs. 

I guess I could ask the same of demos?

DU: I did the AV demos; and I always try to do tolling demonstrations offered offsite, if I can.

SK: Demos are changing and evolving as well – ride-alongs and AVs are still great, but so many components of technology are different now. The first few World Congresses I attended didn’t focus much on demonstrations, but by 2013, I had the ability to ride on an advanced driverless demo in Tokyo in heavy freeway traffic – it was such a thrill.  Many of today’s advances involve data and communications technologies, and we can’t do quite the same thing (it’s hard to demo data screaming across airwaves), but I’m sure companies will have creative solutions to showing off their technologies, in Los Angeles and in the future.

Are there business benefits for large companies like WSP to attend global conferences like these?

SK: Absolutely. A key thing for me and my colleagues is the opportunity to collect all our own international experts in one place. Knowing that once a year we can get together in one location is vital. Also, a program like the World Congress gives me the ability to see local operations at other WSP offices. We have a chance to take at least a few hours to discuss workload issues, best practices and trends – it’s both a networking and educational opportunity, even internal to our own company. 


Thanks very much to Dave Ungemah, Vice President & Director, Transportation Operations Strategy Business Line at WSP USA and Steve Kuciemba, National ITS & C/AV Practice Lead with WSP USA, for their look back at ITSWC2019.