Road users and transport operators want roads that are well-maintained and in good condition and – if at all possible – available for travelling on in all weathers. In this respect the resilience of the road infrastructure itself is an issue. Bridges and safety barriers are vulnerable to vehicle collisions and the road pavement itself may suffer damage from adverse weather, landslides, overloaded vehicles and constant wear and tear. Special measures may have to be put in place to deal with network security to ensure operational resilience (See Network Security).
For monitoring individual ITS installations in operation, the concept of an ‘online filing cabinet’ for storing information can help road maintenance engineers progressively improve overall performance rather than simply reacting to faults being notified. There is even the prospect of locating wireless sensors into road surfaces, to gather and relay information on condition and maintenance needs.
The European Space Agency (ESA)’s “Live Land” project is investigating ways of reducing the exposure of the transport infrastructure to landslides and subsidence by developing a sustainable prediction, monitoring and alerting service. This would use earth observation and satellite communications to create a central management system.
In the USA freight carriers move an estimated 700,000 shipments of hazardous materials every day. Electronic access to carriers’ databases for early identification of the vehicle and cargo enables responders to:
In humanitarian relief supply chains, ITS plays a key role in the last 1km-2km delivery from a local distribution centre (LDC) to affected populations. Computerised management of available vehicles and planning of delivery schedules can optimise resource allocation and routing decisions with the aim of minimising transportation costs and maximising benefits for those in need. This can be particularly important for disasters in developing countries with inadequate road networks.
Existing traffic management systems can play vital supporting roles. Bluetooth-based traffic monitoring proved effective when a factory in Texas caught fire and later exploded. Residents needed immediate evacuation, with school buses and ambulances coming in to rescue them and needing priority access.
Japan has reacted to a series of natural disasters by developing a unified approach to the organisation of traffic management and emergency response, integrating automotive manufacturers’ and other sources of navigation and traffic information in a central disaster transport platform. One output is the creation of event- and location-specific online accessible route maps for use by trucks delivering relief and reconstruction supplies.
Particularly vulnerable are large numbers of passengers moving through confined spaces, for example, transport termini and interchanges – and metro stations. Passenger evacuation systems depend for their effectiveness on the amount and quality of information made available. Simulations can model individual passenger movements to provide for the needs of the elderly and disabled, and integrate planned lifts and escalators for the capacity calculations needed to estimate realistic evacuation times.
Prevention of terrorist acts can be strengthened by systems for the early detection of would-be perpetrators. Analysis of CCTV footage of rail and bus stations can detect people making unusual movements.
The US’ ‘Protect’ programme has developed a detection and alerting system for ensuring that a public transport operator knows within five minutes that there has been a biological or chemical attack, its location and the substances that have been used – five minutes being the limit for minimising numbers of casualties.
The Canadian city of Edmonton has successfully demonstrated a system for detecting explosive and radiological threats to public transport users by equipping ticket validating equipment to pick up traces from the hands of ticket carriers. On gaining a result, it automatically alerts the control centre and photographs the suspect. The system has worked flawlessly.