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

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HMI Standards and Guidelines

Road Operators may need to be involved in the specification, design or purchase of a wide range of Intelligent Transport systems (ITS) products and services. How these ITS are designed will determine the efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction with which they are used. To promote well-designed ITS, a wide range of standards, guidelines and other material is available which aims to capture good practice and advice. The range of information available includes:

  • Standards (See ITS Standards)
  • Guidelines
  • codes of practice
  • style guide
  • advice notes
  • books and other publications
  • laws and regulations

A number of parties have a role to play in the development and use of standards and guidelines – and other information sources:

  • human factors and technical experts involved in development – who usually need to be financially supported by their employers or through research projects or specific development contracts from governments and other organisations
  • the sponsoring organisations that support development of information sources
  • national and regional governments that provide leadership and act as sponsors
  • publishers of the information such as standardisation bodies that may retain copyright and charge for copies of the information

Limitations of Guidelines

There are many general checklists and style guides concerning human interaction with technology. However, it is important to be aware of their limitations:

  • there is no guarantee that any particular set of guidelines is exhaustive
  • there are many alternative design solutions that can be equally compatible with guidelines
  • it can be difficult to accurately weigh the importance of different recommendations
  • there is no easy or universal way to compare the benefits of different guidelines
  • some usability attributes are context dependent
  • it is very difficult to specify rigorously the limits of a context in which a guideline is applicable
  • following guidelines does not guarantee that a product reaches any particular level of usability
  • interpretation often relies on expert opinion
  • it is impossible to formally assess compliance with general principles

Role of the Road Operator

User and Developer Role as an ITS USer and Developer

Standards and guidelines are likely to be relevant both in the procurement of ITS products and services and in operational activities involving ITS. Human factors standards and guidelines have a role in these activities. Road Operators may contribute to development of international standards, and/or to more local guidelines and Codes of Practice.

Responsibility for Road Users

Road Operators have a duty of care to the users of their road networks. Tunnels are an example of road infrastructure that may be designed or managed by the Road Operator – and if human factors are not sufficiently addressed – they can raise significant ITS equipment and safety issues. In terms of ITS information provision, the Road Operator should ensure that everything provided is as clear and correct as possible – and that the ITS provided is safe, well maintained and fit for purpose so that it can be easily used. To help with these duties, one way is to use (and require sub-contractors to use) relevant standards and guidelines – including those related to human factors.

Responsibility for Workers

The Road Operator has responsibility for the work and conduct of their staff – including responsibility for any ITS which may be used as part of their jobs. The Road Operator may own or operate road vehicles as part of a fleet. Recovery and incident vehicles may have additional ITS equipment fitted for fleet management and communications. The standards and guidelines described here are relevant for these situations.

The Road Operator may also be responsible for the design and operation of traffic control centres – and for the staff who work there. Human factors issues are very relevant and important in this context – and a range of relevant standards and guidelines exist which, when properly applied, should assist the efficient running of the centres.

Institutional Issues

A standard is not the same as a law and, of itself, has no legal force. However, it can be quoted in a legal contract and form part of a legal document. It can also be adopted in whole, or in part, in regulations or other legal instruments. Standards may also be identified as representing “state of the art” in legal arguments and may be used as the basis for regulations or directives.

Standards (and guidelines and other information) may not be entirely neutral. They are developed by people and may be influenced (consciously or unconsciously) by bias or a particular point of view.

Some standards may contain commercial intellectual property (for example, concerning a specific interface) – so widespread adoption can be financially advantageous to specific organisations.

The world of standardisation can seem obscure and opaque to those unfamiliar with it – transport professionals may be unaware of the development of relevant standards impacting on their operations. Investment in awareness of standards and standards development has a cost.

The requirement to adopt a particular standard (or other guideline document) may require new ways of working and challenge existing organisational boundaries.

For further information see ITS Standards and Legal and Regulatory Issues

Issues for Developing Economies

Access to standards and the cost of standards may be a particular issue. Standards are available in a range of common languages – but not all languages are covered.

The process of standardisation can be long and costly, involving international meetings and this may be a barrier to participation for some countries and organisations. As a result, the standard may be designed for use in a context of operation that is not entirely relevant to a developing economy.


Reference sources

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