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

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Technical or Engineering Development

This is the sub-system and component design, plus component development parts of the system engineering "V" model. (See Systems Engineering Programme) They are the parts that appeal to most of those involved in developing ITS technology and generate the most "excitement". This is largely because development work is where the systems are invented, developed, tested and implemented – and where people can be hands-on with the hardware and/or are able to create the software. It is also where things can go seriously wrong, which can have a very significant impact on the timescales and/or costs for the ITS implementation as a whole.

CREATING new technology

The motivation for creating new technology is often that none of the existing technologies will enable a planned service to be implemented. Also creating new technologies to replace what exists can make the implementation of a service easier and/or cheaper, so improving the benefit to cost ratio.

An example of this is the service to detect the numbers of occupants in a vehicle. Until recently, the only way to do this was to have a person located at the roadside so that they could visually check each vehicle as it passed by. Now infrared and video camera technologies have advanced to the point where a camera can do at least some of the checking.

Creating new technology is fraught with risks and must not be undertaken without proper and robust justification. This justification may be difficult to achieve, especially as most ITS implementations are often constrained by time, for instance the stakeholders want the services to be available now, or maybe in a few months, but not in a few years. What stakeholders do not want is an open-ended timescale where nobody really knows how long it will take to develop the required new technology. There are too many real life stories of ITS and other technology-based implementations that have failed because either the new technology could not be created and/or developed, or the resulting product was too difficult or expensive to produce.

Using existing technology

Using technology that has already been developed but has never been applied in practice has less risk than using new technology. It still requires careful assessment and a good robust justification as there are many risks in going from the prototype or development phase to the production phase in technological or engineering development.

Using existing technologies that have proven track records of being successfully used in other ITS implementations provides the least amount of risk. They may also be much cheaper and there may well be a bigger choice of suppliers than for new or prototype technologies.

Reference sources

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