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

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Building ITS Capability

Author Mashrur (Ronnie) Chowdhury (Clemson University, S. Carolina, USA)

Road transport has been – and will continue to be – a driving force behind economic development in all countries. Safe and efficient transport is a critical factor in making the transition to a modern economy.

As standards of living increase – so does demand for investment in transport infrastructure and vehicles. Often, the capital required to meet demand exceeds resources. To tackle this, many transport professionals are turning to ITS as a way of securing greater efficiency and productivity from existing investments in the road infrastructure and vehicle fleet.

For countries with economies in transition – ITS technology transfer is complex business. Transferring ITS experience – gained from deployments in industrialised countries – requires a flexible approach to ensure that ITS deployments are well adapted to very different, local conditions.

Transport professionals have an important part to play in the implementation of ITS. They must become familiar with the technical, organisational and legal aspects of ITS, to be confident when launching a new ITS project. Traditional academic educational programmes are often insufficient to prepare future ITS professionals.

The viability of ITS solutions in developing economies needs to be evaluated before deployment decisions are made. The assessment is dependent on a number of factors:

  • does the lead organisations have the capability to plan, build, operate and maintain the ITS deployment?
  • will the planned investment meet the needs and requirements of the local economy?
  • can the ITS application be adapted to local circumstances?
  • will on-going ITS operations and maintenance be sustainable?

Building institutional capability, involves developing expertise in a diverse range of topics – such as:

  • traffic flow
  • ITS planning
  • system analysis and design
  • technology evaluation
  • data analysis and management
  • legal and organisational issues

Organisations may need to hire employees with relevant experience – or train existing employees in the multidisciplinary areas required for the specific ITS services to be deployed.

ITS and Organisational Change

The World Bank has highlighted that organisational change is inevitable when ITS are implemented:

“The greatest advantage is achieved when ITS is implemented because the organisation seeks to change – and hence the organisational change actually drives the process – compared to some organisations where change is a reaction to a new technology.”

“Most effective ITS deployment occurs when organisational change, business process change, and ITS deployment are designed together. In these cases the organisational change leads and the ITS is designed as a core enabler of the new processes.”

Changes tend to occur at six distinct but related levels:

  • organisational structure
  • business processes
  • operating procedures
  • personal responsibility, authority and skill levels
  • business outputs, quality and efficiency
  • corporate management and performance assessment

See: World Bank ITS Toolkit on-line at

A national or regional roads authority has a strategic part to play in the development and deployment of ITS, for two reasons:

  • the authority, or its agencies, is likely to be an early adopter of ITS for network monitoring and traffic control purposes
  • the strategic road network will be a focal point for the development of ITS user services – because of the contribution that road transport can make to national and regional economies

Road authorities have traditionally focused on the construction and maintenance of roads and bridges – which requires civil engineering skills. This means that a decision to adopt ITS technology and systems will raise a number of challenges.

ITS Awareness Training

Many ITS technologies – like electronic payment systems – have emerged as mainstream technologies comparatively recently. Consequently, there is often a low level of understanding of the potential of ITS amongst well-established senior managers and professional staff. This presents a real challenge for many roads and highway organisations and national roads authorities. Until recently staff skills have had to been rooted in civil engineering to fulfil their remit of building and maintaining highways and bridges. By contrast, ITS practitioners need to be able to appreciate the complex interplay between systems involving modern information and communication technologies.

The commitment of a national or regional road authority to implement Intelligent Transport Systems has to start at the highest levels of the organisation. Senior management needs to plan, prepare and direct the organisational changes that will occur as new working methods and ITS-based services are introduced. To do this, they need to acquire a good appreciation of ITS – and their role in its implementation. For example, they will need to make decisions on organisational change, the scale of investment, and the level of staffing and other resources needed to deploy ITS. (See Use of ITS)

Stakeholder Liaison

Successful deployment of ITS-based services is much easier if the motivation and interests of different organisations can be brought together. Close contact with key stakeholders is needed throughout the planning and deployment process. Senior officials of public agencies and chief executives of major private sector companies must take a close interest in the planning of ITS – because of its potential significance.

A number of different organisations will need to ‘buy in’ to the overall vision for ITS and the process of ITS deployment. Building consensus and securing the agreement of the principal actors is an activity of strategic importance. Staff at all levels will need training in how to work with and secure the collaboration of the various stakeholders such as:

  • the traffic police and law enforcement services
  • city and town authorities and local traffic management agencies
  • railways, port and airport authorities – to improve access to passenger and freight terminals

See Managing ITS Implementation and Policy Framework Analysis

Traffic Law Enforcement

In most countries the police service is a vital partner in Road Network Operations because they are directly involved in law enforcement that impacts on public safety, traffic management and compliance with traffic regulations. Collaboration between police and the road operator or road authority on ITS deployment is essential.


The investigation and prevention of criminal activities is a core police responsibility. The police are responsible for enforcement to target unsafe speeds and overloaded trucks.

There are several police functions that benefit traffic – which are less intimately concerned with criminality and enforcement of the law. Examples include – traffic control and dealing with traffic accidents and congestion incidents – which benefit road users through fewer delays and greater safety. In some countries, providing the resources for traffic policing may not be high priority compared to other calls on police time. In these circumstances the road authority or its agencies may need to develop a ‘back office’ capability to administer traffic penalties. (See Policing/Enforcement and Back Office Arrangements and Enforcement)


Reference sources

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