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

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Vehicles and Roadways

Road network monitoring technologies are there to enable effective operations, incident detection and traffic management. Without a real-time view of the road network – gathered from sensors or other data sources – road operators would not be able to detect incidents, optimise traffic plans, inform the development of long-term upgrade and new capacity plans, or confirm the effectiveness of investments made.

The most cost effective data gathering strategies use existing detectors, sensors and other trusted sources. Most of the time, routine monitoring of static detectors provides the main source of traffic data but if an incident is detected other sources may become more important. For example, voice reports from a police officer at the scene of an accident can help optimise the most appropriate response. Other data sources that are used in network operations to influence traffic behaviour include weather monitoring stations (temperature, visibility and wind speed), ice alerts on bridges, and notifications of roadworks by utility companies or lane closures for road repairs.

Different vehicle and traffic monitoring applications provide different (but complementary) views of the road network. For example:

  • a road network may already be equipped with various types of static sensors, such as buried inductive loops or roadside detectors as part of a Vehicle Monitoring scheme
  • alternatively Probe Vehicle Measurement methods may be in place that enable individual vehicles to be monitored over a distance

By combining different outputs, it becomes possible to automatically alert road operators to unusual patterns that could indicate that an incident has occurred. The figure below summarises the general data collection methods available.

Traffic condition and travel time monitoring. Reproduced by permission of Easyway ( a trans-European project co-financed by the European Commission.

The key sources of data, the technologies for their collection and methodologies for their analysis include:

Reference sources

US Federal Highway Administration, Impacts of Technology Enhancements on Transport Management Center Operations, Transport Management Centre Pooled Fund Study (TCC PFS), accessed at