Traffic management

5 minutes with Richard Neumann

Thursday, 4 August 2022

In the second of our new series in which Intertraffic attempts to find out a little more about some of the most well-known names and faces in the intelligent mobility sector, we caught up with Richard Neumann, Senior Manager, Communications and Events at SWARCO and asked him six (relatively) simple questions…

1) In the last five years, what one new innovation or one new development has made your job easier? It can be new technology, new thinking, new legislation… what would it be? And why?

RN: The routine use of Microsoft Teams and similar online communication tools in pandemic times has made my work easier and saved a lot of travel costs and waiting times at airports. Although I have to say that nothing replaces the direct personal face-to-face meeting. In the past we also invested in Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) tools. Using VR, we added a certain gamification to “dry” traffic technology matters. With AR, we are able to make traffic drive through our static showroom and create scenarios that are much more illustrative for our visitors to understand the connectivity of infrastructure and vehicles.

2) So let's fast forward to Intertraffic Amsterdam 2024. What are we going to be talking about post-show? This year the post-show topic was undoubtedly the proliferation of artificial intelligence in smart mobility solutions.

RN: To my mind, AI will continue to be a hot topic in modern traffic management technology also in 2024. Maybe there will be also some progress to report by then in terms of quality pushes for road markings and making them more uniform on a European and global level to facilitate Automated Driving also across country borders.

3) If you could change one thing about the sector you work in that will be of benefit to society as a whole, what would that be?

RN: Society as a whole will benefit to my mind most if we quickly manage to decarbonise transportation. However, this does not imply technological approaches alone. If we really want to effectively tackle the effects of climate change, each and every one of us will have to introduce behavioural changes in his or her personal mobility. Every time we wish to go from A to B we have to ask ourselves first which is the most environmentally sound way to move.

4) What subject did you study at University and has it actually helped you during your career in the smart mobility/ITS world?

RN: I would say I am a good example of a lateral entrant to the traffic industry. I studied English linguistics and Romance languages and literature (French, Italian, Spanish) in Germany, France and Italy and also have some experience as a technical writer. My skills as a communicator, moderator and event organizer facilitate my role a lot. All I know about traffic technology I learned on the job over the past 28 years. Being able to welcome and guide the international visitors of our SWARCO TRAFFIC WORLD in Wattens in their native language immediately breaks the ice. It is a big interpersonal and cultural advantage, e.g. at Intertraffic Amsterdam, to be able to address Italian or French business partners in their mother tongue.

5) You are a very well known figure in the ITS sector but away from the business world, what would constitute a perfect Saturday for you? 

RN: As I have the privilege to live in the Tyrolean Alps, my perfect Saturday includes mountaineering with my wife and my daughter. Timely departure for a mountain destination, 2-3 hours of access to a lodge run by the Austrian or German Alpine Association at 2500m altitude or alternatively to a summit of up to 3000m. Then for some pressed cheese dumpling soup and a beer at the lodge or a snack from my backpack on top of the peak, while enjoying the gorgeous panorama of the Alps. Back at home in the late afternoon, it is time to fire up the grill for a delicious barbecue and to uncork a bottle of good Italian red wine to be enjoyed with family and friends. Ideally topped off with the background music of my favourite band, Simple Minds from Glasgow.

6) You've spent almost 30 years at SWARCO and you are widely recognised as one of the public faces of the company, but what would you like to be remembered for, however?

RN: I would like to be remembered for having at least a little role in building the SWARCO corporate culture and developing the SWARCO brand to the level of recognition it has nowadays.

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