Preparing for the 36th ITA General Assembly
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Preparing for the 36th ITA General Assembly Apr 2010
Shani Wallis, TunnelTalk
Two weeks away from start of the event and attention turns to the 36th General Assembly of the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association (ITA-AITES). In addition to a packed program across the four days of the World Tunnel Congress (WTC) and its associated exhibition, it will be a busy time for the representatives of the Association's 55 member nations.
As well as electing of a new president, the Assembly will elect four new vice presidents, a treasurer and five or six new Executive Committee members. Animateurs and chairmen of the Association's 13 Working Groups and three Committees will report progress, the treasurer will provide a financial statement and the host country for the 2013 General Assembly and WTC will be selected to follow Helsinki, Finland in 2011 and Bangkok, Thailand in 2012.

Martin Knights, President, ITA-AITES

The General Assembly is open to anyone of the tunnelling community interested in knowing how the Association operates and is spread across two morning sessions on Sunday and Wednesday (May 16,19) from 9am. The Working Groups are also open to anyone interested in contributing to their topics (see below for a current list) and there is open invitation to join their discussions set also across two sessions on Sunday and Wednesday afternoon (May 16,19) from 2pm. The Association's ITACET Training Course is programmed over the two full days of Friday and Saturday (May 14, 15) from 9am and social events are organized for a welcoming reception on Sunday evening, a harbour dinner cruise on Monday evening, and the congress banquet on Wednesday with the congress technical tours taking place on Thursday and a post congress tour planned for Friday. A packed agenda indeed.
ITA development
Ahead of handing over to a new president at the end of his three-year term, current President Martin Knights of the UK spoke with TunnelTalk and explained how he has seen the Association change over recent years. "The ITA as the central steering oraganisation of the international tunnelling community has become more relevant and responsive to the member nations and industry sponsors. We have responded more actively to requests by member nations to support the underground alternative for infrastructure needs in their countries by contributing to national discussions and attending and endorsing tunnelling conferences they organize. This ensures a two-way flow of information between developed, more experienced countries and those in their developing stages. For our industry sponsors we have reacted to requests to be more proactive in investigating and promoting engineering and technological developments, through the Working Groups, our Congress Open Sessions, and via ITA publications. Rather than gratefully but passively accepting their vital financial support, this new focus is will be developed by a new ITA committee to be headed by industry leaders.
"There is also to be re-activation of Working Group 9 on the seismic effects on underground structures. This was set up in 1979 and completed its initial work in 1985 but the Chinese delegation in particularly is keen to reinstate the Group. There was suggestion also of a Working Group on Lessons Learned. This was suggested by the British Tunnelling Society (BTS) but it has been decided to attach a Lessons Learned investigation and to each of the Working Groups and their final reports."
These developments in ITA illustrate the significant global upsurge of tunnelling over recent years, according to Knights. A point in case, he said, is the development of the underground option for public infrastructure in countries of the Middle East for example where major new tunnelling projects for sewerage and water supply, metro and high speed rail, grade separated highway intersections and transport links across water ways are in construction or in the planning stages across the region including Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain, Qatar, Doha and other regional countries. "The increase in demand is also indicated by potential of increasing the number of member nations from 55 to 62 over the coming years,"said Knights. "Attracting new member nations and sponsors is a renewed goal."
Promotion of the underground option, of safety during operation of public underground facilities, and of training and educating tunnel professionals and labourers were highlighted as important focuses of attention. "COSUF, the Committee on Operational Safety of Underground Facilities was in existence when I became President in 2007 (COSUF was founded in 2005) but ITA-CUS, the committee for promoting the use of underground space, ITA-CET, the Committee on Education and Training, the ITA University network, and the ITACET Foundation on education and training, were established during my Presidency tenure. We also established alliances with the ISRM (International Society for Rock Mechanics) and the ISSMGE (International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering) to increase networking with other organizations, the association with PIARC and our NGO status with the United Nations." A special session of the Executive Committee while in Vancouver is planned to energize the Working Groups and speed up their pace of progress, publishing interim report ahead of final reports if necessary to maintain momentum. With the ITA for the largest part a volunteer organization, the contribution of time by industry professionals is the greatest support the ITA can receive.
New president elections
As assembly representatives head to Vancouver, they carry with them their nation's vote for the new president. The president is elected from the vice presidents and of the four current vice presidents, three are running for president:

Eivind Grøv, President NFF, Norway


Yann Leblais, Past Vice President, AFTES, France


In-Mo Lee, Past President KTA, South Korea

Grøv is nominated by the Norwegian Tunnelling Society (NFF). He is currently Research Manager Rock- and Soil Mechanics and Professor II at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (SINTEF).
Leblais is nominated by AFTES, the French Tunneling and Underground Space Association, and is currently Global Director Infrastructure within the Arcadis Group.
Lee is nominated by the Korean Tunnelling Association. He earned his Ph.D. degree in the USA and is currently Director of the Institute of Underground Space Technology at the Korea University.
The current fourth Vice President Piergiorgio Gasso of Italy has cited shortage of time for declining a run for president. Ahead of welcoming the new president, Knights had some advice for his successor: "Use good judgment in what you choose to do yourself. You could quickly find you have taken on too much. Be sure to delegate and use your vice presidents well. Ensure committed support by your employer. There is often little by way of tangible return for supporting the President of the ITA but there can be a lot to gain for the supporting company. Be visible. Choose the right events to attend, and be quick to respond to suggestions. That is the way to help keep the Association vital and dynamic."
The ITA-AITES Working Groups - current and clompleted
WG 1: Standardization - Set up 1975 - Completed 1998.
WG 2: Research - on different subjects such as site investigations, monitoring and control of underground works and risk management.
WG 3: Contractual Practices - working on a series of I contractual pronouncements addressing the most serious issues in underground construction and the appropriate responses contractually.
WG 4: Subsurface Planning - Set up 1975 Completed 2002
WG 5: Health and Safety in Underground Works - aiming to provide guidelines for a better safety during tunnelling works
WG 6: Maintenance and Repair - working on Guidelines for Fire Resistance for Metro tunnels.
WG 7: General Approaches to Design - Set up 1978 Completed 1996.
WG 8: Catalog of Tunnels - Set up 1978 Completed 1991.
WG 9: Seismic Effects - Set up in 1979 Completed in 1985 Set to be reinstated
WG 10: Costs and Advantages of Urban Public Transport - Set up1982 Completed 1988.
WG 11: Immersed and Floating Tunnels - implementing a searchable database of immersed tunnels worldwide.
WG 12: Sprayed concrete use - working on Guidelines for nozzleman certification; sprayable mortars for fire protection, and test programme on evaluation on fibre-reinforced shotcrete.
SWG 13: Direct and indirect Advantages of Underground Structures - Set up 1989 Completed 2002.
WG 14: Mechanized Tunnelling - studying risk management and insurances of TBM tunnelling, training courses, and on demonstration of benefits of mechanized tunnelling.
WG 15: Underground and Environment - longterm goal to prepare guidelines and recommendations on environmental aspects related to underground facilities.
WG 16: Quality - Set up 1997 Completed its work in 2007.
WG 17: Long Tunnels at Great Depth - preparing a report on long hydraulic tunnels at great depth.
WG 18: Training - aiming to produce training and educational material on tunnelling and underground space use.
WG 19: Conventional Tunnelling - preparing a guideline on monitoring in conventional tunnelling and a report on special aspects in construction contracts in conventional tunnelling.
WG 20: Urban Problems, Underground Solutions - to create an overview of the typical challenges of urban city planning and the solutions that are offered by the underground space.

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