Lack of uniformity in ITS policies
There is definitely a lack of clarity when it comes to ITS policies, except for guidelines from the MoUD and MoRTH. The lack of uniformity also extends to standards adopted and the consistency of ITS systems across the country. Dr Krishnan cites few examples, how the traffic signal heads in many of our cities do not conform to IRC standards and many authorities are not aware of Indian standards. We have a number of flashing red signals on our national highways to caution the drivers whereas our standards (IRC:93-1985) specify flashing amber lights for caution; we clearly do not want vehicles come to a complete stop before proceeding at a flashing red signal on a national highway!
In India, we also need to update our standards based on international best practices: for example, most developed countries do not allow moving text on VMS boards as this takes away driver attention from the road and poses a safety hazard while we have a flashing VMS boards with moving text on our highway network. The ITS policies and standards should be reviewed and updated to bring in consistency across the country. ITS standards will also enable interoperability between products from different vendors, help authorities avoid lock-down with one specific vendor and enable innovation in the industry. Once this is done, relevant administrators and traffic police officials should be educated about the standards so that they are followed consistently across the country. Perhaps, this should be done as a part of the Smart City initiative.
Need to progress in ITS field
There has been a lot of focus on smart cities by the government, which will create an eco-system that will reduce the load of the already over-burdened urban infrastructure. Secondly, state governments need to de-privatize traffic management. According to Nilanjan Chakravortty, traffic management is an investment intensive and cannot be traded against advertisement rights. In many Indian cities, traffic management is left to advertising agencies who install systems in lieu of advertisement spaces. That creates a very disjointed system that cannot be synchronized with a country wide ITS fabric. Apart
from that, a series of actions that would help deployment of ITS in India are:
- Government directives to states on moving away from pre-timed traffic signaling methods to adaptive traffic management systems. Set-up command control centres for real time adaptive traffic
management that will respond to varying traffic demands.
- Establish guidelines for highway and expressway traffic management; include ramp metering systems, overweight, overheight vehicle detection and enforcement systems
- Establish guidelines for metros and BRT systems focusing on adaptive signaling methods apart from automated fare collection and vehicle locating systems
- Issue directives to logistics and freight companies & public transportation companies for use of vehicle location systems (GPS) and promote open big data for congestion monitoring
- License plate standardization for easy enforcement by promoting ANPR technology
- Set-up a panel of qualified traffic engineers in every state to determine and suggest infrastructure modifications
- Set up standards for smart vehicles, smart sensor based parking systems, green fuel usage, real time urban noise pollution and emission levels monitoring
- Set up guidelines for deployment of IoT & Big Data in transportation
But above all to progress in implementation of ITS, one should review the previous experiences (in particular for BRT, integrated with Metro and bus feeders systems).The technical requirements should be standardized based on international benchmark and Indian experiences. According to David Moskowitz, leadership from central bodies and international agencies would help enhance the solutions deployed in India. For attracting more middle class citizens into the Urban Public Transport, the focus should be more on their needs. In this case, an integrated planning solution will help addressing the core mobility needs of the citizens. Passenger would experience regular services, on time, accessing timetables at their bus stops and have real-time updates on their mobile phone. Only a reliable services and good information to the passenger is a critical path for increasing the ridership.