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

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Advisory Systems

Advisory systems include a broad range of ITS applications that provide information to the driver about traffic, weather, road conditions, parking data and in-vehicle presentation of roadside signage – to help plan and undertake the journey.

Driver information includes a suite of solutions that have evolved rapidly over the last few years, across areas as diverse as route finding, availability of parking and electric vehicle charging stations, and management of driver behaviour. The increasing levels of connectivity that are available in the vehicle as a result of smartphones and embedded in-vehicle communications – are a key driver of this evolution. Market penetration is not universal – but many more people have access to these services than ever before and the numbers continue to grow.

In response, existing services have developed new capabilities – and new services have been launched in the market. This has great potential in terms of the tools available to both road network operators and drivers to promote safer and more efficient travel. They include:

  • navigation & route guidance
  • charging/fuelling information
  • driver feedback

A wide range of technologies and applications are now available to help drivers manage their travel. Some are being developed through private sector innovation. Others rely on public sector infrastructure and data. From a road network operator perspective, it is important to:

  • make transport data available (Open Data) – sharing information directly with consumers and offering access to developers who wish to create new services – can accelerate the rate of deployment of advisory systems for drivers
  • monitor opportunities for partnerships to develop solutions that improve transport operations – for example, after the 2011 Japanese Tsunami, car manufacturers collaborated to collect information from their passenger vehicle and truck fleets to provide information about blocked roads
  • monitor emerging consumer technologies – such as smartphone applications – which can be used as a platform to provide pre-trip and en-route travel information and other increasingly sophisticated, real-time, transport information and functionality

One of the biggest challenges of connected solutions of any type – is consumer privacy and data security. Local laws and cultural tolerance for data-sharing must be carefully considered. (See Data Ownership and Sharing)

Driver Services

Driver services provide assistance to drivers faced with various scenarios (emergency and convenience). These services will often benefit road network operators and their partners on the road network. For example, Roadside Assistance and eCall services can help to ensure that breakdowns and accidents are quickly reported and cleared. Stolen Vehicle Recovery services may reduce the police work needed to handle vehicle theft.

Deployment of services – such as eCall – has the potential to save many lives every year. It is a complex undertaking that requires the cooperation of a large number of public and private sector partners – from emergency responders to equipment manufacturers. Service developers need to be aware of lessons learnt from early eCall deployments to ensure that technical, legal, and institutional issues are properly addressed.

Probe Data

Data collected from vehicles can enable a broad range of applications – including measuring travel times and providing real-time weather data. Vehicles used to collect data are known as “probe vehicles” or “floating vehicles.” For example, when the location of a moving vehicle is known at different times at two different positions on a road link – the travel time on the link (or “link time”) can be measured directly. Tyre slippage on an icy road and moisture on the windshield can also be detected and reported to the traffic centre by the vehicle – together with its location. This data can refine, replace, or add to traffic and weather data generated by fixed sensors. (See Probe Vehicle Measurement)

Probe data is a well-established tool for building a real-time picture of the road environment – and can help with planning road network operations. A recent addition to the road network operator’s toolbox is passive probe data collection (anonymised) – using roadside equipment for monitoring toll tag readers or Bluetooth equipment in the vehicle. Data actively collected by fleet owners as part of their operations is currently underused by road network operators because of:

  • the need for a partnership agreements on data supply
  • limited appreciation of the potential of probe vehicles for data sourcing
  • concerns about lack of control of data collection – including dependency on third parties and uncertain reliability of the data
Reference sources

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