Road Network Operations
& Intelligent Transport Systems
A guide for practitioners!

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ITS Technologies

Author  Adel Sadek (State University of New York, Buffalo, NY, USA)

Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) are a product of the revolution in information and communication technologies in the digital age. Today ITS supports the operation of transport networks that are integrated between road, rail, waterways, ports and airports. ITS also supports the control of vehicles that operate on those networks and efficient planning of the transport operations that use those vehilces (including individual journey planning and vehicle fleet logistics).

Intelligent Transport Systems include a wide range of user support functions, ranging from simple information alerts on a mobile phone through to highly sophisticated traffic control systems. To achieve its functions, ITS utilises a wide range of enabling technologies. These include:

At the heart of any Intelligent Transport System are the twin concepts of information and control technologies.  Control technologies support many ITS applications and can be divided into two broad categories:

  • infrastructure-based control technologies aimed at controlling and managing traffic such as adaptive signal control systems and ramp metering (See Traffic Control)
  • vehicle-based control such as Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) (See Driver Support)

On the information side, technologies are needed to acquire data, process and fuse the data, make sense out of the data, and disseminate information to the users – including the travelling public. The information collected and processed can also be used to implement control and management measures aimed at improving network performance. ITS enabling technologies also collect real-time traffic and environmental data from the field and transfer the data collected to a central location where the data is processed, fused, analysed and used to support decision-making.

As with control technologies, detection technologies fall into two groups:

  • infrastructure-based detection technologies, which include inductive loop detectors, non-intrusive detectors (such as microwave, infrared, ultrasonic, and acoustic sensors), environmental sensors and closed-circuit TV cameras (CCTV) – some with Video Image Processing (VIP) (See  Roadway Sensors and CCTV)
  • vehicle-based detection technologies, which include vehicle probes, police patrols, mobile safety patrols and citizens’ reporting (See Mobile Reports)
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