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Road Network Operations
& Intelligent Transport Systems
A guide for practitioners!
There is no single definition of what constitutes a developing economy. The World Bank refers to geographical regions – and classifies countries according to gross national income:
These terms do not imply that the economies in each group are at similar levels of development or that they face the same challenges to make best use of their road transport networks. (See Common Challenges)
WORLD BANK COUNTRY INCOME DATA
The World Bank’s Development Indicators database provides a wealth of information on all 188 World Bank member countries – and another 26 economies with populations of over 30,000. The assignment of countries to the four income groupings – from low to high – is made on 1st July each year.
The potential for improvements in transport infrastructure and road network operations – and the role of ITS – will vary from country to country, depending on geographical and climatic conditions, social and cultural factors, level of development of the road network and the extent of planned investment, and the mix of vehicle types competing for road space. It will also be determined by differences in the economic policies, income per head of population, and available human resources (technical, operational and management skills).
From an economic perspective the value of the transport network (and the need for further investment) can be judged by how well it connects and serves:
There is no single, common ITS deployment strategy appropriate to address the different needs of countries across the world – with economies in varying stages of development. Local, national and regional factors will determine whether ITS is an appropriate investment – as well as how it should be designed and deployed. For instance – even within a single country:
Often in developing economies, development of infrastructure is a higher priority than traffic management to promote economic development and the movement of people and goods. Road network operations become essential when traffic levels increase to the point where they have negative impacts – such as congestion, accidents and vehicle overloading. The focus shifts towards making best use of available road capacity in all conditions, at all times. (See What is Road Network Operations)
Before embarking on ITS, countries need to have in place some basic traffic management measures – such as lane markings and designed junction layouts. It will help to learn from neighbouring countries’ experience of ITS to identify proven solutions.
Several common trends affect transport in developing economies which will have an impact on the scale of RNO activities and the scope for ITS deployment:
In any budgetary processes the value and urgency of ITS deployments have to be assessed alongside more conventional transport infrastructure projects. Decision-makers in many countries favour traditional transport infrastructure projects using public funds. They will often little experience or understanding of the potential role of ITS deployments – and the possibility of mobilising private financing.
Countries experiencing major changes impacting on the transport sector may be open to new concepts such as ITS in response to new challenges. For example, increased deployments of ITS on roads is often associated with road tolls and electronic payment. The World Bank reports that in many developing economies, electronic tolling systems have been implemented as a means of financing traditional transport infrastructure investments and ITS deployments – such as traffic management and traffic information. (See Financing and Procurement)
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) – the United Nations agency for information and communication technologies – maintains an ICT statistics website which compares ICT trends and deployments in various countries. The figure below provides an overview of ICT trends in terms of fixed (wired) and mobile broadband subscriptions and makes comparisons between China, Egypt, Germany and the USA.
Global Trends in penetration of Information and Communications Technologies (Source: International Telecommunications Union’s ICT-Eye Website)
The graphs show that developing and emerging economies have much high growth rates in ICT than high-income countries – in particular for mobile cellular and mobile broadband use.
The World Bank has produced a series of Technical Notes providing advice on ITS deployments for developing economies (See Worldbank ITS Technical Notes). They cover: