The future of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS)

“In the automotive world the potential for intelligent transport systems is almost unlimited and eventually technology will help alleviate the major problems of congestion and safety.”

Max Mosley, President, Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), 1993-2009

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.

More Info:

Intelligent transportation system – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Floating car data – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Forums and International ITS bodies

Communications, Air-interface, Long and Medium range – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cooperative Vehicle Infrastructure Systems (CVIS) project

Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) – Vehcle to Vehicle Infrastructure


European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) ITS

TRL – Independent Transport Research, Consultancy & Testing.

International Transport Forum

European Commission CORDIS – Search for ITS etc

Network of National ITS Associations

ERTICO (Europe)

Institute for Transport Studies: Institute for Transport Studies

Project MESA – Mobile Broadband for Public Safety – Home Page

International Transport Forum – Web TV

Intelligentransport’s Channel – YouTube


ITS South Africa

ITS-UK › Home › About ITS › About Us

IBEC ITS | International Benefits, Evaluation and Costs (IBEC) Working Group

Guidance on Investment in ITS

Transport: What do we want to achieve ? – European commission

ITS/Operations Resource Guide 2009

World road association – Includes complete PIARC handbook on ITS

Easyway – Co-financed by the EU

Transport Advice Portal: Intelligent Transport Systems

Urban Traffic Management & Control – UTMC

ITS-Arab > Home الرئيسية

Home – Multimodal ITS


RTIC 2010 | The IET Road Transport Information and Control Conference and the ITS United Kingdom Members’ Conference.

ITS World Congress

World ITS Summit·China 2011 | Opening up government



EU Funded HAVE IT – Highly automated vehicles for intelligent transport

MIRA | Smarter Thinking for Vehicle Engineering, Test and Defence


Traffic Management – Industry Projects Category – Road Traffic Technology

Mobile Synergetics

San Francisco rolls out new smart parking meters with ‘demand-responsive pricing’ — Engadget

Twitter, Now With Geo-Location | In Telematics Today

Twitter Blog: Location, Location, Location

Facebook, Twitter Ready Location-Based Features – PCWorld

KeepMoving – UK Traffic and Cheap Fuel Price Information

Sir Henry Royce Lecture 2010 – Smarter Transport by Jamie Houghton, Head of ITS, IBM

Country and global City Resources:


Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology–

Section 4 – Vehicle Classification Monitoring

Be-Mobile | Control the traffic flow!


MIT School of Architecture and Planning and future urban transport

Future Urban Mobility

Intelligent Cities


Openware – The GIS Software Leader – ESRI Openware Kuwait – Kuwait Maps

Axis Solutions – Committed To Our Customers’ Success


Brisbane Metropolitan Transport Management Centre

Traffic & Transport – Brisbane City Council

131940 Traffic and Travel Information


Traffic Scotland


Traffic Wales – the Welsh Assembly Government’s Traffic Management and Information Service


Welcome to Traffic England

UK Highways Agency

Highways Agency – Traffic Information


CSC DBKL’s ITIS Set To Ease Traffic Woes



Siemens Traffic Solutions SITRAFFIC Concert

Serve atOnce Traffica | Nokia Siemens Networks


Intelligent Transport Systems


IBM – Intelligent transport: How cities can improve mobility

IBM – Smarter Transport for a Sustainable Future – Start Summit Day 3 – United Kingdom

IBM News room – 2010-04-16 IBM Helps City of Stockholm Predict Better Commuting Options – United States

IBM: The Smarter City

IBM: The Smarter City – Traffic

InfoSphere Streams enables smarter transportation at the city of Stockholm. – YouTube

IBM – Stream Computing – InfoSphere Streams – Software


ITIS Holdings plc acquired by INRIX – Historical, Real-Time and Predictive Traffic Information

Mott MacDonald & ITIS Floating Vehicle Data system Transport Technology Services

ITIS Floating Vehicle Data system – realisation of a commercial system


ITIS Integrated Transport Information System Home Real Time Traffic Information

Other suppliers

Home – Q-Free

PSI Transcom – Solutions for Public Transport Systems


SmartTrans | A Global Leader in Intelligent Transport Solutions

Nortech Detection Motorway Traffic Monitoring Systems

Traffic Products, Services, And Solutions – Motus Traffic

Pell Frischmann – Traffic & Transportation

Road Transport – Thales

ENVITIA Transport – Transportation

Spatial Technology (UK) – Home

TomTom Licensing

WebTech Wireless – GPS Vehicle Tracking and Telematics Solutions

TAN – Transport Associates Network | International Independent Consultants | UK based

ITS Action Plan for Europe | Ankerbold International

hop>2: Travel Information


About mubbisherahmed
I am passionate about IT and its ability to deliver cost effective, value for money solutions that can enhance performance and in many cases provide competitive advantage by using a range of solutions and approaches in innovative ways.

7 Responses to The future of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS)

  1. mubbisherahmed says:

    Ross Dodwell said the following on a social media site:

    Yes, Ahmed. We could start with something small, like getting off analog radar and onto GPS systems for air flights worldwide. 🙂

    Eventually all “products” whether it be transportation products, or products in the home will be communicating with each other.

    I just read an article today about miniature drones that even local police forces want to put their eyes in the sky. That can’t happen unless FAA standards are put in place, and the infrastructure can support it.

    It would be nice to hop in the car, sit back, and let the driving go to the computer. We’d even get better gas mileage….

    I added:

    That’s interesting that local police forces are using ‘mini drones’. The world is quite ‘big brotherish’ now and I suppose that trend will continue.

    On another group, someone said that, “we could make even better efficiencies by doing better city planning with goods and services withing walking or biking distance of residential areas.”

    I think the responsibility for controlling all these resources, lies with all of us. We should all work towards reducing congestion by using public transport and so forth.

    It all comes back to educating the masses on ‘the right thing to do’ etc otherwise even more efficient ITS cannot assist!

  2. mubbisherahmed says:

    Stephen Smith said the following on a social media site:

    I think it is long overdue. There have been people talkiing about such improvement for many years. The technology is here and I think it would be a good idea to try it out.

    On the other hand, we could make even better efficiencies by doing better city planning with goods and services withing walking or biking distance of residentail areas. Small storefronts would benefit, people would feel less stress and would have more time. Going back to mixed zoning would help immensely too.

    I replied:

    Stephen, I agree with your thoughtful comment about better city planning and ‘our’ role as well. Even the best ITS cannot assist if we do not change our habits, by for example, walking or biking as you said.

    The general populace needs to be educated on the repercussions of our daily actions. That educational element has meant that globally most people seem to be more aware of the impact of their daily actions but we still have a long way to go.

    Whatever ITS can do to help can only benefit……

  3. mubbisherahmed says:

    John Sauter said the following on a social media site:

    In Lake County, IL, north of Chicago, the county board made a decision to implement a traffic management center for the arterial streets within the county as a way to manage congestion rather than just try to add lanes to the existing arterial system. We have the first such TMC in Illinois that monitors and manages traffic on a daily basis for the off Interstate/Freeway/Expressway System of Arterial Roads within the County. Currently there are approximately 700 signalized intersections within the county under the jurisdiction of the State DOT or the County DOT, of those approximately 1/3 are connected back to the TMC for monitoring and Pan Tilt Zoom Cameras allow the TMC to visually monitor congestion. There are currently plans to increase the number of intersections that are connected back to the TMC either by Fiber or Radio. We are currently evaluating a system to monitor and report traffic times on the arterial system of highways within Lake County.

    I replied:

    John, I used to work for an organisation that used to implement TMCs for the UK govt and we installed such a system many years ago and it developed into a irreplaceable system that generated enough data to plan for football matches for instance, as the historical data built up over the years.

    So all and all lake County seem to be doing all the right things and as in the UK, I have noticed that USA is quite well established in the ITS arena. There should be an international body for ITS that could amalgamate lessons learnt etc from across the globe in order that newer implementations provide even more benefit….

    Richard Johnson added:

    One of the main objectives of ITS is to disseminate information to the public. Using that timely information the public can make active decisions to avoid, change route, or not use the transportation system during peak usage times.

    The effectiveness of that dissemination of information has been demonstrated time and again during special events, and emergency situations. It is an effective tool. Other demand control tools are somewhat effective, but not as effective as the information and action by the users. (Freeway ramp meters come to mind as one example.)

    I don’t believe that ITS is a replacement solution to adding permanent capacity increases such as alternate routes, or lanes. (I have just made a lot of City planners very angry.) I do believe that ITS is a needed tool to assist in using the full capacity of existing transportation systems.

    I replied:

    I agree with you John adding capacity through additional lanes only exasperates the problem as eventually we fill those lanes with even more traffic!

    As we all know ITS is not the final answer and education is an important element as well, a thought reflected by another group member (On another group) as he said, “we could make even better efficiencies by doing better city planning with goods and services withing walking or biking distance of residential areas.”

    I think the responsibility for controlling all these resources, lies with all of us. We should all work towards reducing congestion by using public transport and so forth.

    It all comes back to educating the masses on ‘the right thing to do’ etc otherwise even more efficient ITS cannot assist!

    7.12.12 – Doug Mihalich added:

    In Brevard County, FL we have been tasked with maximizing the throughout of corridors by utilizing the latest technology available. As an example, we utilized ITS in the form of a more advanced traffic management system on one of our busiest corridors to overcome concurrency issues that created a moritorium for new development. The political thinking is to invest in more advanced corridor management to see if this aids traffic flow prior to making a big investment in more lanes. Initially these systems involved additional enhanced vehicle detection and better junction controller hardware and communications with CCTV systems for monitoring. System designs now include such advances as traffic adaptive timing control and automated travel time monitoring, with this information provided to motorists for better route choices. To date we have received very positive feedback from the public as well as better support from local, state, and federal government.

    Mike Pietrzyk asked:

    What tangible “before-after” benefits have you been able to measure and document??

    Thanasis Gkoutzikas replied:

    I believe that ITS is a quite effective tool for traffic management. Informing people via VMS (or websites, sms, etc.) for alternative routes (if exist) based on real traffic data (received by traffic detectors) is a good example. This is less costly method and many cases more feasible (due to physical restrictions) than adding more lanes to road arterials.

    However, I do not really believe that ITS can solve 100% traffic congestion. The potential measures taken can relief the traffic congestion and ITS can be used as useful tools.
    Traffic congestion can be handled by methods such as:
    (a) Introduction of HOV – ITS could assist for the enforcement (such cameras) of this measure
    (b) Promoting public transport services – ITS can be used for real time travellers information at bus stops or as enforcement measure for the introduction of bus lanes.

    Unfortunately in (bankrupted) Greece where I am from and work, ITS applications are still very limited. There are only 2-3 systems for ITS traffic management services which are not actually used in full potential.

    Paul Bennett added:

    Over time ITS maybe the only game in town- firstly the cost of building more roads and environmental impacts are already unacceptable to many countries. Secondly and perhaps most importantly ITS is rapidly moving away from just being “equipment on poles by the roadside” to in-vehicle – vehicle to vehicle and vehicle to infrastructure. The need for a traffic light to tell you to stop or a VMS to tell you about road conditions ahead may become secondary to what your vehicle, mobile phone etc. tells you.


    Paolo Giorgi added: I agree with Paul. When the concept of ITS was born (early 90ies), systems were becoming more and more intelligent while the infrastructure (e.g. road) was not. Then, when the infrastructure was smart the V2V and V2I were growing up. Today, vehicles and people themselves are the most reliable traffic “sensors”. Maybe the acronym of ITS should evolve in ITCS, where C is for Communication.

  4. mubbisherahmed says:

    Rocky Whitham said the following on a social media site:

    where would you like to start!
    there are so many different way this could go and with some small changes to the way we do things now we could end gridlock. i am starting a blog next week and i will be talking about these different technologies.
    until then

    I replied:

    Rocky, I look forward to your blog and as you said that we have to make small changes even to our everyday lives, a thought reflected by another group member (On another group) as he said, “we could make even better efficiencies by doing better city planning with goods and services withing walking or biking distance of residential areas.”

    I think the responsibility for controlling all these resources, lies with all of us. We should all work towards reducing congestion by using public transport and so forth.

    It all comes back to educating the masses on ‘the right thing to do’ etc otherwise even more efficient ITS cannot assist!

  5. The concepts behind Intelligent Transportation Systems will never succeed if we fail to to acknowledge that intelligent people are part of the final, intelligent solution.

    “In designing IVHS (a pre-1992 name for ITS in the USA) technology, we should avoid treating the driver as an incompetent or error-prone component of a technical system. Such a view is distorted and backwards. The evidence indicates that most driving is remarkably safe, and proficient operators deserve much of the credit for traffic safety.” SOURCE: University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, 1992.

    This holds true even more so today!

    Hamby Hutcheson
    – Group Manager, Intelligent Transportation Systems

  6. The future of automated freight delivery and personal transportation is neither a delivery truck nor a car, the ITS initiative main flaw is assuming it will!

    Why is anyone trying to figure out how to make a truck and a car drive themselves after they are designed and built to be driven? I suppose the reason is that we already have the vehicles and the roads; but, has anyone considered developing and implementing a fully automated freight delivery and personal transportation system using vehicles no one has to drive from the start? I did and submitted a U.S. Patent Application for it. You can go to my blog to read more about it:


  7. mubbisherahmed says:

    Reblogged this on Engaged IT for the CIO and commented:

    Sharing knowledge, increases knowledge. Proof is my blog, 90,000 views since May 2009 & has reached approx 150-200 daily (and climbing). Most popular: The future of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) – – As it is my post popular blog post, it deserves to be reblogged….

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