The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that driver error causes 90% of fatalities on the road. The NHTSA believes that 50,000 vehicle crashes could be avoided by leveraging Intelligent Transportation System technologies.
Many states in the United States have and will integrate Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) in many high-risk areas to improve safety and transportation efficiency. Along with road safety, ITS allows its user to tackle issues such as CO2 emissions, traffic congestion, and high fuel prices.
To integrate into an ITS system, you should follow several steps to create a sustainable and effective ITS. We’ll examine these steps and the challenges of integrating ITS.
What are Intelligent Transportation Systems?
Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) are smart, real-time applications and communication technologies for detecting, analyzing, controlling, and communicating to a transportation control center to improve safety, mobility, and efficiency.
ITS includes technologies, hardware, and several transportation agencies that work cohesively together as a complete management strategy to address transportation issues and challenges. Ultimately, an effective ITS solution shares information between agencies and reduces redundant jurisdiction spending.
Benefits of ITS
Well-integrated ITS can provide several benefits for relieving transportation challenges:
- Eases congestion
- Improves traffic management
- Minimizes environmental footprint
- Saves lives
- Reduces vehicle crashes
- Reduces CO2 emissions
- Decreases fuel consumption
- Saves money for maintenance and operations
- Reduces the need for road construction
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How to Integrate ITS systems?
A successful ITS solution must meet requirements on time and within a budget. To do this, transportation agencies must follow a coordinated integration process for implementing ITS.
1. Planning and Funding an ITS Solution
Most ITS technologies are meant to integrate with an existing transportation system.
During the planning phase of integrating ITS, agencies will need to:
- Identify needed ITS projects
- Create a project scope
- Define requirements
- Create a schedule
Once these variables are identified to create a comprehensive ITS architecture, the agencies can submit for funding.
Identifying ITS Projects
When the local agency examines the current transportation challenges for a specific area, they will assess and identify different ITS projects. These projects can be:
Designing the ITS Architecture
All of these areas need to be addressed and defined for the ITS architecture:
- Identification of stakeholders, communities, and participating agencies roles and responsibilities
- Requirements definitions
- Analysis of alternative system configurations and technology options to meet requirements
- Procurement options
- Identification of applicable ITS standards and testing procedures
- Procedures and resources necessary for operations and management of the system
- Define environmental impact, processes, and approval
- Adhere to Americans with Disabilities Act requirements
- Ensure easements are identified if needed for right of way during any ITS projects
Funding an ITS Project
For assessing costs, the Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office provides an ITS Costs Database for accurately determining capital, operational, and maintenance costs for implementing different ITS projects. Once budgets and expenses are determined, the agency can submit a Systems Engineering Review Form (SERF) for review and approval.
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2. SEMP and ITS Implementation
The agency should complete a Systems Engineering Management Plan (SEMP) and Systems Engineering process for each ITS project. When the final SEMP is approved, the agency can implement the ITS projects based on the architecture schedule.
Transportation Operations Center
If not already in place, a transportation operations center needs to be created. This agency will manage and respond to all transportation issues and problems that can’t be handled by the ITS hardware and applications.
The transportation operations center will manage:
- Central traffic signal control
- Freeway management
- Transit & fleet management
- Electronic toll collection & fare payment
- Advanced emergency response
- Regional multi-modal traveler information
- Satellite-based navigation systems
- Driver assistance devices
ITS construction applies to physical devices or communication infrastructure that must be physically installed on the roadway. The regulations require state and local agencies to award contracts based on:
- Competitive bidding.
- Qualified engineers
- State-approved procurement procedures
Once contracts have been awarded, the agency can manage and ensure project completion.
4. Documentation Upon Project Completion
Because the US DOT has the right to access all documentation on federal-aid projects, strict record keeping is essential during ITS integration. Agencies must substantiate all costs.
During an ITS project, whenever the project adds, subtracts, or modifies elements, information flow, or interfaces, changes must be submitted to verify the ITS architecture. All implementation should be well documented and submitted for review and approval.
When an integration has followed procedure, the ITS projects should be able to:
- Seamlessly communicate between public infrastructure and private devices.
- Communicate properly without false positives.
- Provide accurate real-time information to the Transportation Operation Center
- Automate specific enforcement technologies
While ITS seems like a reliable solution, there are some integration challenges to look out for when adopting new ITS technology:
- Cybersecurity needs to be a top priority when installing ITS technologies that could be threatened by a terrorist attack.
- Effective data analysis is critical to building a robust ITS architecture.
- Strong connectivity is essential to real-time communication and efficiency.
- Integration and coordination between all transportation agencies must be established to create an effective ITS solution.
Some ITS technology relies on communication with drivers using their cell phones or in-vehicle navigation systems, which becomes problematic when many cities and counties have banned cell phone use while driving. The ITS architecture will need an alternative plan for communication in these areas.
Smooth Integration of ITS Technologies is Critical to Success
ITS technologies can improve the safety and efficiency of transportation when integrated in a sustainable, efficient manner. By following the ITS guidelines for integration, your ITS solution will enable better communication and traffic management.
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