Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) improve transportation safety and mobility and enhance productivity through the use of advanced communications technologies. ITS encompass a broad range of wireless and traditional communications-based information and electronic technologies.
When integrated into the transportation system’s infrastructure and within vehicles themselves, these technologies relieve congestion, improve safety and enhance productivity.
Here in New Zealand, the NZTA has a clear focus on the integration of ITS into our national roading network. They have drawn up standards and specifications to define the requirements for the design, delivery and integration of ITS equipment into the national roading network. This includes devices such as vehicle detection systems, lane control signals, ramp signals, variable message signs, CCTV cameras, incident detection, emergency telephones, cabling and ducting.
What is an intelligent transport system?
An intelligent transportation system is an advanced application that aims to provide innovative services relating to different modes of transport and traffic management which enable users to be better informed and make safer, more coordinated and ‘smarter’ use of transport networks.
Intelligent transport systems are an integral part of smart transportation initiatives and the wider smarter cities movement and have become an indispensable component of smart cities where mobility is a key concern for any city, whether this is going to school, college, the office or running daily errands and attending appointments.
An ITS can save citizens’ time and contribute to making a city ‘smarter’. An ITS enriches lives providing prior and up-to-date information about traffic, real-time running information, seating availability and more. All of which reduce travel time for commuters as well as enhancing safety and comfort.
As well as reducing congestion, an ITS also improves road safety and efficient infrastructure usage.
Technology used in intelligent transport systems
According to a report by the Genesee County ITS Objective, “Shaping our Transportation Future Together”, there are 16 technologies that make up an intelligent transport system, divided into intelligent infrastructure systems and intelligent vehicle systems:
- Arterial Management
- Freeway Management
- Transit Management
- Incident Management
- Emergency Management
- Electronic Payment and Pricing
- Traveller Information
- Information Management
- Crash Prevention and Safety
- Roadway Operations and Maintenance
- Road Weather Management
- Commercial Vehicle Operations
- Intermodal Freight
- Collision Avoidance Systems
- Driver Assistance Systems
- Collision Notification Systems
Together, these technologies comprise an intelligent transport system, helping to improve travel conditions and improve the overall ‘liveability’ of a city.
How Intelligent Transport Systems work
Now we have an understanding of the technology that powers an ITS, it’s also important to understand how information is collected and analysed to improve transport networks.
Typically, a Traffic Management Centre (TMC) acts as the vital hub where all data is collected and analysed. These are usually run by transportation authorities, such as the NZTA here in New Zealand.
From the Traffic Management Centre, data is collected, analysed and fed back into the system to provide accurate information to travellers. Feedback is also provided to relevant service providers so informed decisions can be made about fleet management, driver safety and transport network conditions such as congestion, accidents, or break downs.
For an ITS to be effective, it relies on accurate collection of relevant data. Strategic planning needs precise, extensive and timely data collection and observations. Data is collected using a variety of hardware including automatic vehicle identifiers, GPS, sensors and cameras. The data collected includes traffic count, travel speed, location, delays and vehicle weight.
The data collected is usually stored at data collection centres to be accessed for analysis. As this needs to be done in real-time, the analysis steps are generally automated including data cleansing, error rectification, data synthesis and adaptive logical analysis. Data inconsistencies are identified by specialist software and, if significant, flagged for analysis. Controllers can use the cleansed data to make quick predictions about traffic scenarios which can then be delivered and implemented.
Data transmission and communication
Rapid and real-time information transmission and communication are crucial for an ITS, so speed of data transmission from the field to the TMC is a key element. From there, speedy communication from the TMC to the traveller is then equally important. Traffic-related announcements are communicated through internet-connected devices, SMS, or onboard units within a vehicle or on platforms and pick up points. Dedicated travel apps allow for push notifications direct to people’s mobile devices to provide up-to-date, real-time updates.
Where does NEC fit into the intelligent transport system ecosystem?
Here at NEC New Zealand, we specialise in transport management solutions, leveraging the power of ICT to solve social and economic issues such as traffic congestion in public transport. By applying our many years of experience delivering successful projects to customers, NEC is achieving a more eco-friendly public transportation infrastructure.
Transport Management Solution (TMS) is the integration of a number of solutions for effective transport management. These include:
• Schedule Optimisation System
This uses the Excess Wait Time (EWT) index to evaluate vehicle operation reliability by measuring the average wait time that passengers experience at depots and stops. The closer EWT is to zero the better the regularity and predictability of service.
• Accident Reduction System
Reduce commercial vehicle accidents using vehicle operation data, accident videos and drive recorders and telemetrics.
• Driver Profiling System
Analyse data from fleet systems, driver behavioural data and driver experience data using telematics and sensors to predict increased risks and mitigations such as enhanced driver training.
You can find out more about these solutions on our Smart Transportation page.
Globally, NEC is contributing to smart transportation systems. The city of Lisbon, Portugal recently contracted NEC to provide its Cloud City Operation Centre as part of the city’s Municipal Government Services Integrated Operation Centre. This system will allow several government bodies in Lisbon to receive and visualize real-time information about city conditions via IoT sensors.
As a result, local authorities will be able to visualise conditions like traffic jams and illegal parking in real-time and to take corrective action. Going forward, NEC’s AI solution will also be integrated in order to enhance the autonomy and efficiency of the system.
According to a report by The United Nations in May 2018, “55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 68% by 2050.” The growth in urbanisation is placing tremendous strain on cities and their infrastructure, with the number of vehicles per household continuing to grow. In the US, the average number of vehicles per household was 1.88 in 2017 (Source: Statista) and it has become increasingly important for cities to look at smart solutions to tackle the issues of traffic congestion, both for privately owned vehicles and public transport.
An Intelligent Transport System (or Smart Transportation System, as they are sometimes called), is, as the name suggests, an intelligent way for transport authorities to collect, analyse and present data to users of a transport network on the current status of the network so they may plan their journey based on real-time data available.
The collection and analysis of data also allow transport agencies to make informed decisions about strategy and planning for their transport networks, helping to improve the long-term sustainability of those networks and accommodate the growth in travellers.