Israel sets to be international ‘smart transportation’ leader

Cabinet OKs NIS 250 million plan; Economic Council Head foresees doubling of economy.

Hillel Fendel ,

Cabinet meeting (archive)
Cabinet meeting (archive)
Flash 90

The Cabinet approved on Sunday a 250 million shekel ($66 million) plan to advance and strengthen the smart transportation industry in Israel. The goal of the plan, according to the Prime Minister's Bureau, is to "position the Israeli high-tech industry as a global leader in the field, which according to various estimates, will reach a global market share of approximately $ 7 trillion in 2030."

The national plan for smart transportation will complement the national plan for alternative fuels, and in fact the government has changed the name of the relevant authority to "The Alternative Fuels and Smart Transportation Administration."

The 250 million shekels will be spent over the next five years, with the objective of promoting innovative solutions for the transportation network in Israel.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu welcomed the plan and noted Israel's advantage in the "ability to produce conceptual products. This stems from the business environment that we have created here; therefore, the Government must allow this to grow, and also prevent overregulation. We did this in cyber, and we will do so here as well. We will remove impediments to this industry that is developing very quickly and it will assist in implementing smart transportation on Israel's highways."

The term "smart transportation" covers many aspects of what to some appears like futuristic traffic modes and control, such as mapping out and clearing evacuation routes during emergencies, tracking stolen or suspicious vehicles and automated enforcement of traffic laws. Applications include emergency notification systems, variable speed limits, collision avoidance systems, and sensors that detect vehicles running red lights or stop signs, traveling in public transportation lanes, crossing double white lines, and the like.

The PM's Bureau announced that Israel has an "outstanding advantage in areas that are vital to the revolution currently overtaking the global transportation industry, including processing big data, artificial intelligence, sensor systems and integration between systems."

Prime Minister's Bureau Director-General Eli Groner, who will co-chair the plan's steering committee, said, "Just as smartphones have become an inseparable part of our lives, the same may be expected for smart transportation. The State of Israel may play a significant role in this global market, which could lead to significant economic growth. We have a genuine chance to be a global leader in the field."

National Economic Council Chairman Prof. Avi Simhon was even more optimistic, saying, "We are on the verge of a revolution that will enable us to double the Israeli economy. Today the state of Israel has a rare opportunity to become a leading player in the global vehicle sector."

The new plan includes the high-resolution mapping of the State of Israel, testing innovative technologies in cooperation with commercial and government companies, and building a testing area for autonomous and other vehicles.