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

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Areas for Capacity Building

Training for ITS specialists requires a multidisciplinary approach that is not confined to a single engineering programme, such as civil or electrical engineering. It should be geared towards educating professionals in a range of subjects – traffic engineering, computer networks, telecommunications and information technology – with in-depth training in specialist topics, such as traffic flow, system integration and technology evaluation.

Areas that are essential to become familiar with – for professionals working at an advanced level in planning and project management for ITS – include:

  • deployment of integrated ITS applications and services
  • toolbox of ITS services
  • managing incidents and roadway emergencies
  • project management for ITS projects
  • introduction to systems engineering for transport
  • using ITS Architecture for deployment
  • ITS telecommunications overview
  • ITS standards overview
  • ITS procurement
  • ITS software acquisition
  • ITS public/private partnerships

ITS educational and training programmes need to encompass multiple disciplines and application areas – such as planning, systems analysis and design, technology evaluation, data analysis and management, system integration and the organisational and institutional aspects of ITS.

ITS Planning

To ensure successful ITS deployments, it is important to appreciate the technical, organisational and institutional issues relevant to that deployment. Investments need to be made on the basis of a sound analysis – that takes into account the various strategic, economic, commercial, financial and management issues. Obstacles to progress include traditional mind-sets – and business practices that can be difficult to change.

ITS planning for a region will comprise documents developed using the methodology of “describing the answers to the questions”:

  • what is the vision for ITS for this organisation or region?
  • what are the specific goals and objectives that contribute to that vision?
  • what ITS applications are necessary and cost-effective to attain the vision?
  • when should investment in these applications take place to satisfy regional goals and objectives?
  • which organisations should make that investment?
  • what strategies and criteria will be used to select ITS projects?
  • what measures will be used to evaluate ITS projects once they are operational?
  • how will interoperability, inter-changeability and expandability be addressed?
  • what standards must be adopted?

A regional ITS architecture and ITS standards supporting interfaces within the architecture can go some way in answering these questions. ITS architecture defines functions and associated subsystems, and interfaces, information and data flows between subsystems. (See ITS Architecture)

Project Appraisal

ITS specialists should be able to develop products and services based on the functional requirements and performance specifications for the system – taking account of user preferences. Technical evaluation will include assessing capabilities, benefits, and the costs of alternative technologies and systems. Economic appraisal will consider the social, economic and market impacts of alternative ITS service options. (See Appraisal of ITS Projects)

Capacity building in project appraisal will require an ability to perform the following tasks:

  • selection of measures of effectiveness and/or performance criteria – such as changes in speed, costs, and crash rates
  • implementation of strategies to collect data for evaluation – such as field data collection, performance and costs data collected through vendors, and compiling data collected through other sources
  • use of technical tools, such as statistical testing tools, highway safety analysis tools and traffic simulation models, to support data generation on benefits and costs
  • use of evaluation methods for selecting alternatives – such as benefit-cost analysis and cost-effectiveness analysis

An investment appraisal before any decisions are made to implement an ITS deployment is an essential step in making the business case for ITS – and to secure funding for it. (See Finance and Contracts)

Evaluation of ITS Projects

An introduction to appraisal and evaluation of ITS projects has been developed by the organisation IBEC (the International Benefits, Evaluation and Costs group). It:

  • outlines what ITS exactly is
  • emphasises the need to maximise the investment
  • presents a methodology for the ITS evaluation process – along with a discussion of evaluation techniques and measures and when to use them
  • illustrates the application of the process, techniques and measures with reference to three detailed case studies
  • was originally customised for in-house training of World Bank employees in Beijing, China

(See Evaluation of Intelligent Road Transportation Systems)

Project Finance

As with other transport investments, deployment of ITS projects involves identifying and securing the necessary funding. Knowledge of where to go for funding and how to arrange the finance for ITS projects is essential. ITS specialists should be capable of optimising available resources to provide ITS services.

It is likely that ITS will require both traditional and non-traditional financing methods – as public funding for transport infrastructure tries to keep pace with the demand for mobility. For example, toll roads and traffic control centres are sometimes developed through a public-private partnership – and this may become more common in future.

ITS staff must also be capable of selecting and managing ITS contracts, which differ from those required for procurement and contract management in construction projects. ITS professionals should be able to select contractors, develop test plans, conduct product acceptance testing, and identify warranty requirements for ITS projects. (See Finance and Contracts)

Contract Specification

Training in the technical and organisational aspects of ITS will need to be augmented with tutoring on how to write specifications for a performance-based ITS services contract. ITS contract specifications are not written in the same way as a civil engineering contract with a fully worked-up design. Instead, a series of statements are drawn up to define the functionality that is required of an ITS service (also called functional requirements). These specifications act as instructions to the ITS service provider, highlighting any notable performance requirements that have to be delivered.

Details of the technical specifications for the equipment used in providing the service are left open for the contractor to propose. With information and communications technology developing apace, this flexibility is needed to ensure that the ITS equipment is fit for purpose and not obsolete or likely to become obsolete in the near future.

ITS service specifications need to be written using the legal language of contract documents (such as using a “shall” statement for a requirement) and in a format that can be readily adapted to form a schedule of technical requirements. ITS professionals can develop these skills with practice and by working alongside technical experts who have the know-how.

In a performance-based contract, payment depends on achieving satisfactory service performance – and not on a bill-of-quantities. Payment to the contractor is determined by how well the service output requirements are met – these are fundamental to the contract for:

  • assessing whether the ITS contractor is delivering the required service
  • making payments for delivering the service

Financial penalties will be specified in the contract – that would be triggered if service requirements are not met or maintained. These penalties have to be reflected in the service payment mechanism – which is another area where an agency needs to develop expertise or create an Expert Advisers Panel for support.

Equipment and Service Procurement

Very often an organisation or agency that is developing an ITS programme for the first time will need experience of selecting and working with international suppliers of ITS equipment and services. For example, it is likely that a road authority will wish to form a partnership with a preferred supplier – such as a systems integrator – who can work alongside the authority to assist with ITS deployments and operations. Typically the process of selecting a partner organisation will go through a number of stages.

Stage 1 Informal Discussions

These can be held with potential partners on a bilateral basis without prejudice to the final outcome of the procurement process. Potential candidates will often be a consortium, based on a local company paired with a major international ITS service operator or ITS systems integrator.

Stage 2 Pre-qualification

When the client organisation is ready to commit to an ITS project it will issue a public notice and a request for proposals from companies and consortia with the required knowledge and experience for formal prequalification.

Stage 3 Evaluate Proposals

To be accepted for pre-qualification, a candidate will be expected to supply evidence showing a comprehensive track record which demonstrates the consortium’s ability and technical capacity to deliver the project requirement. Candidates will usually be assessed against three main criteria:

  • financial and economic standing, sufficient to sustain the project
  • ability and technical capacity in delivering ITS-related projects
  • avoidance of arrangements which could constitute a conflict of interest

Based on the information provided – and after further inquiries, if necessary – the organisations that meet, in full, all the prequalification requirements, are accepted on the tender list.

Stage 4 Request Tenders

Organisations who pre-qualify (and only those who pre-qualify) will be requested to submit tenders to provide ITS services against the authority’s service requirements specifications

Stage 5 Evaluate Tenders

Tenders are evaluated and the selection of a partner organisation proceeds on the basis of formal negotiations with a preferred partner – leading to a “best and final offer”. Sometimes negotiations take place in parallel with the second place candidate in order to have a supplier in reserve if negotiations with the leading contender fail unexpectedly.

(See Procurement’ and Contracts)

Traffic Flow and Control

ITS specialists need to be very familiar with the fundamentals of road traffic flow and the interactions between different roadway elements such as the vehicles, drivers, pedestrians, passengers, environment, traffic control and road geometry. They need to know how to manage and control the negative impacts of interactions – such as congestion, accidents and collisions. This knowledge is vital for many road-based ITS applications. It requires a knowledge of the basic characteristics of traffic flow at both a:

  • microscopic level (the movement and mobility needs of individual vehicles or people)
  • macroscopic level (the movement of multiple vehicles or large numbers of people)

Most academic textbooks on traffic engineering and traffic flow theory offer a useful resource for developing knowledge of the fundamentals of traffic flow and traffic control. Traditional civil engineering programmes at colleges and universities offer undergraduate courses on transport engineering – which focus on road and traffic engineering. Graduate courses tackling traffic engineering and traffic flow theory are also available.

System Analysis, Design and Integration

It is important that there are ITS professionals available who can analyse and design ITS systems, in a way which is similar to the analysis and design of information systems. It involves a detailed investigation of user requirements and how the ITS components can meet those requirements. (See What is ITS Architecture?)

At a conceptual level, system design refers to the process of defining what system components are necessary to satisfy the user requirements. In practice, system design requires more detailed investigations to determine:

  • the technology or technologies that meet each requirement
  • a platform for data and communications that meets the requirements
  • the data quality and other characteristics required
  • costs and benefits of each technology, platform and data options

A part of system design is integration. System integration requires connecting different components seamlessly to provide the required services with the lowest possible investment.

As ITS is a complex system – a systems engineering process should be followed in each stage of the life cycle of an ITS project. (See Systems Engineering)

A useful document on this process in relation to ITS, "Systems Engineering Guidebook for ITS", is published by USDOT. 

Data Analysis and Management

ITS typically involves the collection, analysis, and processing of large amounts of data. Data requirements will be present at every step of the life cycle of an ITS project – in the planning, design, operations, maintenance and evaluation phases.

Successful data analysis and management requires a knowledge of data collection and how to store, manage and distribute it – so that useful information can be extracted. ITS professionals should be able to develop and execute a data management plan, which includes the following:

  • analysis of the types of data to be collected or generated – such as data collected through traffic sensors and data collected from a third party vendor
  • the data and metadata standards to be used – such as standard database formats that are compatible with popular database software (for example, Microsoft Access, MySQL) and data modelling software (for example, Matlab, R)
  • policies for retrieving and sharing the data, and the requirements for security and privacy
  • formal policies for data archiving and data access privileges

ITS Operations and Maintenance

ITS makes use of advanced technologies, such as sensor and software systems and various telecommunications. Generally the road authorities in countries with emerging economies – and other organisations with responsibility for maintaining roads and highways – are not used to dealing with these advanced technologies. When ITS is deployed for road network operations, people with know-how are needed to operate and maintain the systems.

The core ITS applications for road network operations include:

Professionals associated with ITS operations need to develop capabilities in all these areas. Similarly, maintenance engineers and technicians need to develop skills to enable them to troubleshoot and fix ITS devices when necessary. ITS maintenance differs significantly from traditional highway maintenance activities for bridges and road pavements. A practical training programme is needed.


ITS Learning Partnership Programme

This one-off World Bank programme provides a model for ITS training and professional capacity development. It was offered in 2010 for Eastern Europe and Central Asia to raise institutional capacity in ITS. The goal was knowledge exchange to promote the development of ITS through dialogue with technical experts and centres of excellence. A series of six webinars was arranged.

1 – Introduction to ITS

  • Transport problems and the role of ITS
  • Sustainability of ITS solutions
  • Lessons learned from ITS deployments – case studies
  • Recommendations for successful introduction of ITS applications
  • Vision for the future

2 – Interurban ITS applications

  • Basic architecture of Intelligent Transportation Systems
  • Structure and functions of Interurban Control Systems
  • Integration into Regional Traffic Management
  • ITS Toolkit for scheme selection

3 – Electronic tolling and payment

  • Design of Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) System
  • Installation of ETC Systems
  • Technical and commercial operation of ETC Systems
  • Recommendations for successful introduction and deployment of ETC

4 – Cross regional cooperation

  • Issues around country border crossings and the role of ITS
  • Recommendations for successful introduction of regional ITS applications
  • Role of ITS in border crossing and in freight and logistics applications
  • Recommendations for successful introduction of ITS applications

5 Freight and Logistics applications

  • Background on ITS in freight and logistics applications
  • State-of-the-art related to ITS and Freight and Logistics
  • State-of practice
  • Selected case studies

6 Urban ITS applications

  • Background on urban ITS applications
  • State-of-the-art on urban applications of ITS
  • State of current practice
  • Selected case studies


Reference sources

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