Smart Freight Centre Launch Remarks by Dr. Eric Miller, Director, University of Toronto Transportation Research Institute

Miller at podium 20190418
Professor Eric Miller, Director, University of Toronto Transportation Research Institute speaks at Smart Freight Centre launch, April 18, 2019

April 18, 2019, Launch of Smart Freight Centre, Brampton, ON

Thank you so much for having us here. Another shout out to the Region of Peel. I think it’s just tremendous that this is happening. A long time coming.

I’m really thrilled to be here today. I think we’re all extremely proud to be part of this important alliance to improve the movement of goods across the region. More importantly, it will improve the region. Goods movement is so fundamental to everything that goes on here and it’s underappreciated, it’s under the wire most of the time, and so I think bringing it to the fore, understanding its importance, is critical.

We know we’re facing profound changes in transportation and logistics, and to address these changes, we need the sort of partnerships that we’re building today. No one person has a solution to this, it’s a multi-faceted problem, and we all need to work together onthis.

It’s very exciting to see so many people in government and industry expressing interest in this. I think that the Smart Freight Centre will be a way to bring everyone together to work on these problems.

And I’m from the university, but it’s not just about the research. University, industry, and government will be partners together to solve real, on-the-ground problems.

As mentioned, I’m Director of UTTRI, the Transportation Research Institute of the University of Toronto. Our whole mandate, our raison-d’être, is to take research into practice, to collaborate, to go out into the field and try to make a difference. This is just another example of the way, hopefully, universities can have impact. Because working on the ground in real-time, with the communities in our region, is the way that change happens.

Matt mentioned writing papers. We write papers; papers themselves don’t change the world. Taking what we’ve learned in those papers out into the world and having impact is the way we can change things.

The Smart Freight Centre, bringing universities together with the regions and industry, is a great way to take advantage of the incredible research capacity of our universities. I often say that I think people really don’t appreciate the depth and breadth of expertise and capability and imagination and energy that reside in the universities. And the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, the Greater Golden Horseshoe, is blessed with some of the great universities of the world. The chance to be able to work together on these important problems is exciting as well as critical. To be able to bring a systems perspective to this, to think about it holistically, from multiple disciplines, multiple points of view – that’s why this sort of collaboration is so critical.

I’d like to add a personal note about this. I started my life being interested in transportation as, first of all, a graduate student and then a few years later as a postdoc with what was then called the University of Toronto – York University Joint Program in Transportation. This was a federally funded, joint collaboration between the two universities. I learned firsthand about the power of collaboration, of bringing different disciplines and different universities and different points of view to bear on, again, real-world problems at the time. The funding waxed and waned. Eventually the collaboration came apart a little bit; we went our own ways. But coming out of that joint program, the University of Toronto Transportation Research Institute is the current manifestation of that. So we have that lineage going back to that.

So I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to be up here talking about a new collaboration between U of T, York University and McMaster University. This is the way we need to be working together, and I’m just thrilled to see that happening.