Adopt a long term perspective identifying a business reason or an operational need for ITS based solutions and embrace performance measures.

Nationwide state and local agency imperatives for ITS deployment

December 2009
Washington,District of Columbia,United States

Background (Show)

Lesson Learned

ITS America conducted interviews with state transportation officials and industry experts to gain insights into the future of state ITS deployment. From an operational perspective, state ITS officials are at a crossroads. In view of the U.S. DOT’s Real-Time System Management Information Program, the travel management envisions widening peoples' access to traffic and travel condition information, delivered by combinations of public and private information providers, to manage ever-increasing congestion.

The federal rulemaking for the traveler information systems provides perhaps the clearest definition of where state ITS is and where it needs to go: currently ITS is mostly an urban initiative, with 40 percent penetration and an almost singular focus on traffic. According to the April 2009 Section 1201 rulemaking, ITS needs to incorporate information on all trips imaginable on all roads and via all modes of travel. The gap between where the country is and where the federal government is requiring the industry to go will require a new approach. Governmental travel management will therefore have to undergo a fundamental shift and make the following commitments:
  • Establish a more strategic approach, identifying a business reason or need for ITS applications. In the 1980s and 1990s, it was typically sufficient to research and test ITS applications because the experimental technology application was possible and scientifically interesting. Today’s climate and the maturity of ITS now demand that solutions match clearly defined needs.
  • Embrace performance measurement and agreed upon metrics as the necessary barometers of success. Once a solution is applied to a defined problem, states need to be able to furnish data to support assertions that performance has been improved and that future investment is warranted. Based on this shift, we expect states will begin to focus on verifying and validating ITS data.
  • Refocus on operations and maintenance. Move from experimental research to focused applied research and practical deployments. Technology is no longer the barrier. Today’s barrier is managing the practical implementation in a cost effective, data-driven manner that fosters ITS accountability.
  • Ensure the sufficient supply of professional traffic managers who understand operations and technology. If ITS is to be as broadly deployed as envisioned, the current supply of ITS traffic management professionals who focus on managing the nation’s roadways is likely insufficient. In previous decades, the solutions to traffic issues involved primarily the design and construction of roadways. That focus is now shifting to operating and maintaining the roads and applying technology to improve performance. The competition for individuals who can make this shift is fierce, and the educational programs that nurture them are scarce. With a goal of 100 percent ITS penetration, the nation will need to find ways to encourage entry into the profession, to mentor and train traffic management professionals, and to give them the practical experience that will enable them to make smart ITS decisions and investments. This is not an overnight process, but rather one that has historically taken 15-25 years. If ITS is to penetrate the market as envisioned, speeding up this process and enriching the pool of technologically-savvy, practical travel managers will be critical.
  • Commit to long-term funding. Longer-term and more sophisticated planning techniques will help ensure having sufficient funds for ITS projects. Early ITS deployments are now requiring serious maintenance/replacement costs. Wider scale ITS deployments also require better budget forecasting as states are forced to make difficult decisions about what deployments must be terminated or scaled back, and trade-offs are made between programs.
  • Adapt to orders of magnitude differences in deployments. Initial forays into ITS were often small, localized experiments. State transportation managers of the future will be responsible for planning, budgeting, and staffing state-wide deployments. Increased attention on management tools and planning will facilitate these larger-scale state efforts.
Many ITS technologies have matured. A state agency’s decision to deploy mature ITS technologies must satisfy some clearly defined needs, and the outcome of ITS in meeting those needs must be measured with acceptable metrics. The agencies must have a long term commitment to funding ITS deployment and operations. The state agencies must plan for expanding ITS beyond the urban travel networks to state-wide travel networks. The lessons learned above shed insights on the governmental responses needed to enable widespread deployment of ITS and make real-time travel information available to travelers of all modes throughout the state, and improve mobility in the transportation network.

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North American Intelligent Transportation Systems: ITS Industry Sectors and State Programs – Market Data Analysis - Phase 1 White Paper

Author: Intelligent Transportation Society of America

Published By: Intelligent Transportation Society of America

Source Date: December 2009

URL: http://www.itsa.org/itsa/files/pdf/Market%20Data%20Analysis%20Project%20-%20Phase%201%20Report%20(Final).pdf

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Firoz Kabir


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