Lyon, France hosted two major ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems) events in early June. Richard Harris, Global Director, ITS, Logica attended them. He writes exclusively for TrafficInfraTech on the two conferences.
There is a considerable debate throughout Europe on the potential impacts of the European Commission Action Plan and Directive. While many countries welcome the initiative, some remain concerned about how the fine details (when they emerge) will impact their existing operations and businesses. Against this scenario, it is not surprising that the European Commission ITS Conference 2011, “Intelligent Transport Systems in Action”, attracted over 250 delegates from 29 countries.
ITS Action Plan and Directive: Opportunity or threat?
One key area of concern is the requirement to provide travellers with “minimum safety related universal information and traffic information”. How it will affect businesses like ITIS and Traffic Master in the UK which collect their own data and provide it on commercial terms to end users, will depend on the way it is interpreted. The question is – will this be undermined by State intervention?
Eminent speakers stressed on the key challenges faced in Europe concerning transport. These include globalisation (which continues to threaten European leadership in the transport industry, particularly in logistics, traffic management systems and information services) and climate change – we cannot continue with a business-as-usual approach because if we do, transport will be responsible for half the CO2 produced in Europe by 2020.
European Commission leaders provided a progress report on the developments. Fotis Karamitsos, Director, DG MOVE, European Commission was of the opinion that that curbing mobility is not an option. “So we have to be better organised and integrated about how we operate our networks,” he said. Juhani Jääskeläinen, Head of Unit, DG INFSO, European Commission shared the latest developments and initiatives including international cooperation in the intelligent vehicle systems arena. Eric Kenis of DG MOVE, European Commission then introduced the findings of the study into the public funding of ITS which was very well received and led to discussions on the sources of information and sharing of such information by various countries. ITS UK Secretary General Jennie Martin said the report provided much insight into the complex and somewhat haphazard current funding practices.
The afternoon session on the results of a study on an open in-vehicle platform aroused the day’s biggest audience reaction. A seemingly harmless presentation took an unexpected turn with the statement, “road operators are not interested in cooperative systems but the motor manufacturers are really focused on it”. Delegates reacted strongly to it as the fact is that the World Road Association (PIARC) which has 118 Governments as members (often represented by road operators) has been actively working on this subject with FISITA, the motor engineering society.
A key message reinforced by the conference was that the ITS Directive is really starting to drive the ITS agenda in Europe with all 27 member states due to report on the status of ITS in their countries this August, and also, on the plans for ITS in August 2012.
ITS in Europe Congress
Speakers from six continents and 38 countries ensured that the Congress provided a real opportunity for international debate on the current state of ITS and the plans and prospects for the future.
The Congress was themed around eight key issues each of which had a key delegate as a reporter. This proved very popular and brought additional value to the Congress Recommendations Plenary Session as they presented their findings which comprised:
Governance & Business Issues –
Reporter: Richard Harris, Logica, UK
Achieving appropriate governance of ITS is a major factor in wide scale deployment and is vital for securing the full benefits of ITS and maximising return on investment.
The new economic reality means that we have to do more for less and drive value from technological applications. Investment in new transport infrastructure is set to continue to fall, while at the same time, economic recovery will demand increased transport efficiency. ITS are able to be deployed more quickly and more effectively and reverse the trend of deteriorating network performance and indeed improve safety, efficiency, comfort and environmental compatibility.
To unlock the benefits of ITS we need new thinking and more reliable and robust political leadership and support. There needs to be clarity of the roles and responsibilities between public and private sector; more structured and consistent funding models for ITS and tackling fragmented public sector organisations & institutions to help achieve joined up thinking and services.
To move ITS from demonstration schemes or isolated services into a suite of interconnected applications demands investment which is justified through viable and sustainable business cases. These need to be based on reliable accessible evidence on the benefits of ITS and will require stable standards and regulations to enable interoperability and information exchange and acceptable conditions and reassurances covering liability and privacy.
Other challenges which impact on governance and business cases include the rise of the use of social network media which challenge operational assumptions and the need to interface and integrate with legacy systems (new methods need to be fairly well established and must offer long term solutions to justify investment decisions when existing services may already be regarded as adequate).
Finally, ITS offers the prospect of increasing cross jurisdictional cooperation through harnessing the capabilities of shared services and cloud computing. These offer the prospect of services for numerous jurisdictions over a much wider geographic area at reduced costs when compared with each individual authority building, operating and maintaining their own resource centre.
Co-modal Urban Transport Management –
Reporter: Roger Pagny, Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development, Transport and Housing, France.
Developing co-modality requires a multimodal infrastructure with multimodal interchange infrastructure with effective guidance along with real-time management of each mode of transport and good coordination between all the operators and actors of the transport network. It also needs multimodal information services, easy ticketing, real time information and reliable re-routeing in case of disruptions. All modes need to be covered including car pooling, car sharing, electrical vehicles, bicycles, goods delivery and pedestrians, and environment-friendly behaviour needs to be promoted for all users. ITS is the key enabler to develop co-modality in conurbation areas and the Smartphone is a key device for tomorrow’s travellers.
Urban Freight –
Reporter: Eric Louette, Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development, Transport and Housing, France
There is an increased interest in European-wide evaluation of the possibilities and potential of ITS in urban areas which provide benefits by integrating traffic management systems with freight distribution systems. Key issues include the ways to optimise freight transport in a city with respect to needs of the city, logistics providers, drivers and transport users (receiving/sending cargo). Obstacles to obtaining and integrating data about infrastructure, traffic and company-based operations need to be addressed. New ICT solutions and knowledge of technology are emerging including a framework architecture describing open interfaces supporting the needs for freight in urban areas, integration with traffic management systems and implementation in European cities with existing family of standards and proposals of solutions.