Road Network Operations
& Intelligent Transport Systems
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Driver Services

Driver services were initially developed with the private sector in mind – but are now also widely deployed at the local, national and international levels – for example, eCall and stolen vehicle tracking.

Roadside Assistance

The simplest form of roadside assistance is the use of a cellular telephone networks to call a public or private sector responder for help. Telematics systems using communications and location technology may be embedded in the vehicle to facilitate emergency calls – which are usually taken by a dedicated call centre. The call centre operator assesses the traveller’s needs, identifies their location based on data automatically sent by the vehicle, and sends towing or other help to the breakdown location.

eCall Concept

The eCall concept builds on the roadside assistance using in-vehicle systems to automatically detect that an accident has occurred and call for help – a common indicator being airbag deployment. Implementation of the concept relies on capturing appropriate information from the vehicle and passing it to a local emergency responder. This can be challenging to implement:

  • where vehicles regularly cross national borders and each country may have different emergency response infrastructure
  • where the infrastructure and personnel needed for emergency response centres to automatically accept vehicle information may not always be available – as in the USA
  • where there may be no standardised emergency response infrastructure – as in China

A great deal of work is underway to address these and similar challenges worldwide. The European Union’s HeERO project, has been testing and validating under real-life conditions, pilot tests using the common European eCall standards which have been defined and approved by the European Standardisation Bodies. (See The system uses GPS and digital cell-phone communications to automatically initiate a 112 emergency call to the nearest emergency centre to transmit the exact geographic location of the accident scene together with other data. The system is illustrated in the figure below - The European Commission’s target for deployment of the European Union’s eCall system is 2018.

HeERO eCall System

Stolen Vehicle Recovery

A vehicle owner can initiate tracking of a stolen vehicle if it is equipped with a location device, communications capabilities, the appropriate software and is registered with a recovery service provider. Alternatively, the vehicle may signal a problem to the owner if its location strays off-route or beyond a predetermined set of boundaries. This tracking information can be used by the police and recovery service providers. This technology and any associated services are used by vehicle fleet operators – particularly where fleets:

  • comprise high value vehicles
  • carry high value cargo
  • operate in high risk areas

Brazil’s State Transport Department (DENATRAN) has been working towards mandating such systems through its CONTRAN 245 legislation.

Convenience Apps

In some cases, drivers may require assistance in handling routine needs – such as locating their parked car. Communications technology linked to specific vehicle control features – such as the horn, the lights, or the door locks – can be initiated by a call centre or through a smartphone application. These applications can prevent simple situations from becoming emergencies – for example, remote door unlock, where a child is accidentally locked in a car.
Reference sources

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