It is with great pride that I introduce you to Vias institute, the organisation that is taking over the role of BRSI after 30 years. The change of name is the final part of a process that we put in motion six years ago. Today, I can look back with much satisfaction at what we have achieved with BRSI. But I am just as proud of the fact that we will continue to drive down much the same road as a forward-looking, independent organisation.
Over the years, BRSI has built up a strong reputation in the area of road and traffic safety. We have done so – based on research – by targeting the way in which we work on the changes to people’s behaviour out on the road. The figure that really speaks volumes is the decline in the number of people killed on the roads in Belgium: 640 in 2016, which is the lowest figure ever. Although, of course, any death on the roads is always one too many. This fall is the result, among other things, of our research analysing the behaviour of road-users, as well as the awareness-raising campaigns we have conducted to help change that behaviour.
So, has the story of BRSI reached its final chapter? No, not in the least. We are the leading knowledge centre in the country when it comes to road safety. But our society has changed so fundamentally over the past 30 years that our own organisation needed to change with it if it were to remain relevant.
Behavioural change as the driving force
At the beginning of this year we announced that we would be broadening our social focus from traffic and road safety to safety in general and the issue of mobility. Because these are also areas where it is important to examine human behaviour and try to nudge it in the right direction. For instance, why don’t people opt to take the train rather than still choosing massively to jump into their cars? How can we organise the transport of freight more efficiently? Does camera surveillance in public places breach our right to privacy? And how do we provide more secure Wi-Fi networks in our homes?
Of course we are not starting off entirely from zero. Our expertise – and that of other specialists and organisations – enables us to give proper shape to our new strategy for the future. And with the right partners we will develop commercial activities to share that knowledge with businesses and the general public. We also intend to remain active internationally and further strengthen our position. We have, for many years, been a much sought-after partner for research institutions, public and private organisations and companies worldwide.
Neutral and independent
Our aim as a non-profit organisation is to be neutral and independent. Only by being so can we be a partner for public authorities, private players and other interested parties alike. By taking an integrated and innovative approach, we will bring together all of the stake- holders involved in the areas of safety, security and mobility – just as we have already done for traffic and road safety.
A brand-new beginning deserves a brand-new name. The well-established BRSI brand is now shifting to become ‘Vias institute’. Knowledge about (road) safety and mobility has become very fragmented in this day and age. Vias institute aims to draw everyone together and appeal to the public as a true centre of expertise. That is because we need greater authority on these important topics, a stronger grip, more expertise. And we at Vias institute are happy to take this pioneering role on ourselves.
— CEO Vias institute