Organisations that have traditionally dealt with the construction and maintenance of civil engineering infrastructure – such as highways, roads and bridges – will have a big adjustment to make when providing services through ITS technologies based on sensors, processors and communication technologies. Adapting to ITS technologies requires investment in human capital and organisational commitment – both of which will need organisational and political commitment.
ITS practitioners and decision-makers include the planners, designers, managers and technicians involved in developing, deploying and maintaining ITS systems. Each group will have its own ITS knowledge and competency requirements. For example:
Senior management must have a good level understanding of the functions, costs and benefits of ITS – if these technologies are to be embraced at the decision making level. Management will be responsible for planning, developing and directing the organisational changes in business culture and practice to ensure that ITS becomes a mainstream business activity. Mainstreaming helps ensure that ITS solutions and services are always considered as an option – but only selected, if it is better than other alternatives.
Interactive and distance learning through the internet has been effective – especially for those who have time or geographical constraints or want to learn at their own pace. Internal staff members can periodically review the web pages of vendors and trade associations – and attend meetings and exhibitions sponsored by ITS organisations (national ITS group meetings and the ITS World Congress).
A good way to strengthen an organisation’s ITS knowledge is to recruit recent graduates from reputed colleges with ITS curricula. Workshops and seminars/webinars can be provided to the management of an organisation – to build their awareness of ITS in terms of planning, services, costs and benefits. Other staff – especially those who may become involved with ITS in a non-technical capacity, such as contracts and administrative staff – will also benefit from ITS awareness training.
Staff turnover can be a serious problem – making it necessary to repeat the same training process over and over again. Frequently, new staff simply have to learn by doing, without having gone through a systematic training process.
Over the years the US Department of Transportation has developed a comprehensive programme of courses, webinars and workshops in ITS – as part of a professional capacity building program. Some are available for distance learning. (See USDOT ITS Website and ITS ePrimer)
Websites are also useful to gain an immediate (even if not, thorough) understanding of new technical terms and acronyms.
ITS Awareness and Senior Managers
The World Bank ITS Toolkit is described as a self-learning on-line resource for transport leaders and their advisers. It provides guidance in the planning, design, implementation, and evaluation of an ITS programme for urban transport.
Although designed for ITS in an urban context – with the emphasis on public transport – a number of the training modules are equally valid for ITS on major road networks and highways. Topics covered are: