The future of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS)
November 29, 2011 7 Comments
The world population is growing exponentially and recently hit the 7 billion mark. By 2050, we will have reached 9.3 billion. Cars have just passed the 1 billion mark. In a global society, such trends demand that we create solutions to these problems. Unfortunately, as once envisaged, the solution is not to build more roads, as the more roads that we build, the more traffic we invite onto these roads.
High rates of population growth and increased car ownership will cause, for instance, more traffic congestion making this problem worse. Traffic delays represent a huge loss of revenue for business while creating frustration and stress for road users. These delays also damage the environment and increase emissions of greenhouse gases. While alternatives to road transport are currently being looked at by most countries, the use of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS), could become increasingly more important.
One of the disadvantages of all this activity is that currently there is no global standards body controlling the way that these systems are developed. However, there are European and American bodies that are involved and are driving ITS forward.
One such initiative gathering pace globally is CALM:
According to Wikipedia, “CALM enables the following communication modes:
- Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I): communication initiated by either roadside or vehicle (e.g. petrol forecourt or toll booth)
- Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V): peer to peer ad-hoc networking amongst fast moving objects following the idea of MANET’s/VANET’s.
- Infrastructure-to-Infrastructure (I2I): point-to-point connection where conventional cabling is undesirable (e.g. using lamp posts or street signs to relay signals).”
Other situations could be cars (V2I) automatically stopping (In the future), as ambulances communicate their emergency to traffic lights, cars (V2V) braking automatically as cars in front brake etc.
Ford has recently developed and demonstrated a Car-to-Car and Car-to-Infrastructure Communications system for a German Safety Research Project.
What are Intelligent Transport Systems?
According to ETSI, “Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) add information and communications technology to transport infrastructures and vehicles in an effort to improve their safety, reliability, efficiency and quality.
ITS services are also designed to optimise transportation times and fuel consumption thus providing greener and safer transportation. However, the deployment of Intelligent Transport Systems and the provision of corresponding services are not limited to the road transport sector only, but includes other domains such as railways, aviation and maritime as well.”
ETSI adds that, “Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) include telematics and all types of communications in vehicles, between vehicles (e.g. car-to-car), and between vehicles and fixed locations (e.g. car-to-infrastructure). However, ITS is not restricted to Road Transport – it also includes the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for rail, water and air transport, including navigation systems.
In general, the various types of ITS rely on radio services for communication and use specialised technologies.
Uses of Traffic Data
ITS systems are reliant on traffic Data as it is extremely valuable for both traffic planning purposes and for live traffic updates. This “Live” information can be broadcast as real-time traffic updates to users of Satellite Navigation systems, radio listeners, TV viewers and website users. Mobile phone users can receive this information by SMS message, a dial-in traffic information service or iPhone type applications, such as iHop2. This information can also be displayed on road signs such as the illuminated displays often seen on motorways.
The “Live” data is only valuable for a few minutes as it is constantly replaced. This data is still valuable however and can be stored in large databases. This “historical” data can be used by traffic planners to analyse traffic movements over a period of time. The ability to compare average journey times and conduct studies using origin / destination analysis is all essential tools for good traffic planning.
The traditional method of collecting data has been to use a network of static sensors. There are several different methods such as infra-red cameras and inductive loops. These methods all have two things in common. Firstly a large amount of capital expenditure is required to build the network and secondly they are expensive to maintain.
The future of ITS
Future solutions will warrant moving beyond just collecting data and providing information for one mode of transport, i.e. road traffic data.
The vision for future ITS: to design true multi modal ITS (Integrates several data streams from air, land and sea) systems capable of ‘real time’ traffic information (for example, even from car parks and parking meters). This process utilises maturity modelling and stream computing applications (YouTube) and information gathered is disseminated through multiple delivery channels. This information can also be displayed on road signs such as the illuminated displays often seen on motorways.
According to a Press release by IBM – “The trend in transportation management is to use data to predict future traffic conditions and allow agencies to implement strategies and provide traveller information in anticipation of those future conditions,” said Christopher Poe, assistant agency director, TTI.
When it comes to addressing traffic problems today, transportation agencies are largely reactive, focusing on isolated incidents and single areas of congestion. Through innovations such as road sensors and predictive analytics, transportation systems can be made smarter, allowing agencies to be more proactive in dealing with traffic issues. For example, technologies exist today that make it possible to predict traffic conditions anywhere from an hour to 15 minutes in advance, providing drivers with valuable information on what is going to happen, rather than what has already happened – even before they get in their vehicles.
Beyond easing traffic congestion, smarter transportation systems can help reduce accidents, improve emergency response times, lead to cost savings, and increase community liveability by promoting increased use of public transit. In addition, intelligent transportation projects have the potential to drive sustainable economic development through the creation of new jobs, technologies and businesses.
For example, the city of Stockholm is using IBM’s streaming analytics technology to gather real-time information from GPS devices on nearly 1,500 taxi cabs to provide the city and its residents with real-time information on traffic flow, travel times and the best commuting options. The service will soon expand to gather data from delivery trucks, traffic sensors, transit systems, pollutions monitors and weather information sources. IBM is also assisting the cities of Brisbane, London and Singapore to address traffic management and congestion challenges.
Forums and International ITS bodies
Country and global City Resources:
UK Highways Agency
- GM Develops Technology To Prevent Crashes (wizplus.wordpress.com)
- World Congress on Talking Cars (dailywireless.org)
- Intelligent, Connected Vehicles (technologyreview.in)
- Cell phone signals help manage traffic (physorg.com)
- Smart app helps drivers find parking spots (msnbc.msn.com)
- TECHNOLOGY: Study shows that vehicle-to-vehicle navigation systems really do work. “Traffic conges… (pajamasmedia.com)