Road Network Operations
& Intelligent Transport Systems
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Standards Organisations

Standards are created at the international, regional and national levels. Stakeholders meet under the umbrella of dedicated standards bodies or organisations. Groups of committed individuals participate with the support of their companies or governments – in Working Groups that follow a formal process of development, review and ratification:

  • development of the text of a Standard is by consensus of the stakeholders involved – ratification is subject to voting at national and international level
  • development of a full formal standard usually takes at least three years, although useful results are often available well before the final publication date

Private companies, especially those whose business is globally oriented, may be interested in consensus standards and harmonisation of global standards – to secure economies of scale in manufacturing and marketing. These standards also reduce their risk of investing in new products and services that may have limited market potential or could soon become obsolete.

In some cases, private companies may not be interested in participating in consensus standards setting. Companies in dominant market positions may be reluctant to move away from the de-facto standards of their own products – unless they are convinced that a new consensus standards will help them access a much larger market. In situations, where the social and economic benefit of having standards is high, a government initiative may be needed to secure their realisation.

Standards Organisations – Types

Coordinated standards development is primarily handled by two types of organisations:

  • formally accredited standards bodies
  • unofficial industry consortia

An industry consortium may form around a specific industry need for a standard – where the participants feel that they want to work more quickly and informally than is possible in an accredited group.

Standards developed in consortia may be submitted to an accredited body for formal standardisation. Standards developed by an individual country or region may become part of a more broadly harmonised approach – and contribute to regional or international standards setting. Some countries require adherence to standards if they have been formally approved by specific international bodies.

Global Harmonisation

ITS standards have for decades been the subject of active international discussion and cooperation in organisations such as the International Standards Organisation (ISO) and the European Committee for Normalisation (CEN). Multiple stakeholders – governments, standards development organisations, and commercial entities – must reconcile their various objectives, approaches and timescales, to achieve the benefits of working together in this way.

Intergovernmental agreements have been signed between the EU, Japan, Korea and the USA to further advance cooperation between standards developers in these regions. One body arising from these agreements is the EU-US Standards Harmonisation Working Group, which has developed an action plan and other working groups to discuss:

  • previously agreed joint harmonisation activity
  • lessons learned
  • gap analyses

Many other industrialised countries have also been active in coordinating their own ITS standards with international standardisation activities.

Major Standards Organisations

A number of organisations are engaged in setting standards at various levels around the world. In many cases, regional standards work contributes to international and global standard setting. A selection of the most significant standards bodies is below:


The International Standards Organisation (ISO) has reached broad agreement on a classification of ITS services drawing on experience from the European Union, Japan, the United States, and elsewhere in 18 Working Groups within ISO Technical Committee 204.

The ISO TC 204 overview can be found on the main ISO website. The working TC204 website is:

For background information on the work of ISO TC 204 refer to: Williams, B. (2008) Intelligent Transport Systems Standards, Artech House, Boston, London.

United Nations ECE

United Nations ECE (Economic Commission for Europe) World Forum

The UN ECE has working parties engaged in a variety of ITS areas – from driver distraction to lane departure warning systems (See

The UN ECE has also developed a study of ITS deployment and best practices worldwide. Intelligent Transport Systems for Sustainable Mobility – includes a roadmap for future activities (See


ITU is the United Nations’ specialised agency for information and communication technologies. ITU undertakes ITS standards work in its radio communications division in Working Party 5A’s activity – Collaboration on ITS Communication Standards. This group is focused on establishing a globally harmonised set of ITS communication standards. (See

European Committee for Standardisation (CEN)

CEN deals with European Standards in all domains except for electro-technical and telecommunications matters which are handled by CENELEC and ETSI.

CEN Technical Committee TC 278 on Road Transport and Traffic Telematics (established in 1991) is most involved with ITS – including those elements that need technical harmonisation for intermodal operation with other modes of transport. CEN/TC 278 cooperates with the ITS committee of the International Standards Organisation (ISO/TC 204). Cooperation is promoted by allocating a leading role – either to ISO or CEN – for each Working Group:


European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI)

ETSI is a membership-based organisation that produces globally-applicable standards for Information and Communications Technologies (ICT). ITS service provision relies on communications, especially the more advanced services, making ITS an area of strategic relevance to ETSI – and one where ETSI leadership is required. (See


Reference sources

Williams, B. (2008) Intelligent Transport Systems Standards, Artech House, Boston, London