Monitoring and evaluation are two important aspects of Road Network Operations (RNO) that are often overlooked. Both have a central role to play in ensuring that the policies adopted for RNO and the measures applied actually achieve the desired results. This is especially true for measures that fully exploit the potential of ITS technologies, which have opened up many new possibilities in recent years. Monitoring and evaluation are significant for ITS deployment in general and for ITS in road network operations in particular – acting as tools to assess the contribution of a scheme to meeting policy objectives, to improve operations and influence future deployment strategies. (See Strategic Planning)
As can be seen from the coverage of this website, ITS is applied in many different ways and different contexts, including:
Careful monitoring and evaluation will contribute to successful operations in all of these areas, but especially so for the central activities of RNO. ITS has great potential to enhance the efficiency of the road network itself – for the benefit of the road users – for example with operating systems that automatically respond to recurring congestion, traffic incidents or weather events. None of these improvements is guaranteed and public perceptions can be very different to the reality. There is often a need for objective assessment. Success often depends on the manner in which the technology is deployed and the operating methods adopted. For these reasons monitoring and evaluation are essential parts of the RNO programme that help determine priorities and secure value for money. They are not an optional extra.
Monitoring and evaluation help to:
Monitoring involves continuous and systematic data collection to assess the performance of a system in meeting key indicators. Monitoring can be used to measure the impacts of a scheme as input information for its evaluation.
Evaluation is an assessment of the extent to which a scheme meets its objectives. It provides feedback which is useful for improving performance in the future. This, in turn, provides information for appraisal decisions before investments are made in ITS.
Monitoring and evaluation are activities that are carried out after ITS has been deployed. They are distinct from appraisal, which is part of the planning process undertaken in support of investment decisions when an ITS scheme is in preparation, prior to deployment (See Project Appraisal)