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Intelligent transport systems

ICT Infrastructure

An Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Infrastructure is a necessary condition for the deployment of ITS services, providing relevant and high quality data from systems that monitor the road situation. A connected European ICT infrastructure will enable cross-border continuity of services through the exchange of harmonised data. Monitoring infrastructure is a major enabler for traffic management and traveller information services.

The connected ICT Infrastructure consists of three dimensions:

  • systems for collection of data (monitoring and positioning systems)
  • systems and protocols for communicating data (e.g. between traffic control centres and to and from vehicles)
  • quality of the data (accuracy, timeliness)

Traditionally, data collection is done by road operators using sensors, induction loops, cameras and information from police or road users. Data is then processed in traffic control centres and information disseminated via radio, Internet or other means. For better data quality at a lower price, the conventional systems are complemented with detection based on objects floating with traffic. Such objects may be vehicles regularly transmitting their position and speed (Floating Car Data/FCD), or mobile phones that can provide position data while phone calls are being made (Floating Phone Data). All data sources record a certain speed at a certain place and time. The goal is to use all available data to compute an accurate picture of the current traffic situation, especially congestion.

Satellite navigation is needed for any services based on location such as tolling, navigation systems or travel information. Galileo is Europe's initiative for a global navigation satellite system providing a highly accurate, global positioning service under civilian control. Currently it is planned to be operational by 2013. The EGNOS system, which improves the current GPS signal, is already working. The European Commission is working on an action plan for the development of applications for Galileo and EGNOS. The worldwide market is mainly shared between applications for mobile phones (75 %) and road transport (20 %).

In Europe, it has been recognised for some time that reliable communication of data between traffic control centres is essential for effective corridor and network management across borders. The European Commission is supporting the development of data exchange. In the road sector, the DATEX standard has been developed for information exchange between traffic control centres and constitutes a reference.

Accurate, reliable, high quality traffic data is a prerequisite for effective traffic management and information services. Today there is a lack of common European quality criteria for data and services, which is in turn a basic need for quality cross-border services using data from different countries. So far, only little evidence exists of the relationship between data quality and cost-benefits of the service. The ongoing QUANTIS project will provide insights into the issue.

Core systems include collection of data, satellite navigation systems, monitoring of traffic (stationary and mobile sources), traffic control centres, data fusion, communication protocols, data exchange.