ITS – Intelligent Transportation Systems – Part 1, Introduction
Struggling with Success, Appropriate Technology and The Joy of Driving
Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) are those utilizing synergistic technologies and systems engineering concepts to develop and improve transportation systems of all kinds. IEEE ITS Society
No one likes waiting in line or in traffic jams. I spent over ten years in the SF Bay Area in the 70s and about the same amount of time in Southern California in the 80s. During that period, in my work in high tech marketing and as a robotics consultant, I spent a lot of time in my car, averaging 25,000 miles per year.
I was a participant in and witness to the clogging of the arteries of California’s once beautiful and efficient highway system. The regions are literally choking on their success. Traffic congestion, air pollution, road rage, hours of misspent time and wasted fuel are causing a catastrophic systems breakdown. The tipping point has been reached and entropy is winning. Overloaded systems are inefficient, turbulent and less productive. This is not just a California problem.
“Traffic is a growing problem in almost every city in the world. The average American motorist spends 36 hours in traffic delays every year. The cost of traffic congestion just in the United States is $78 billion, representing the 4.5 billion hours of travel time and 6.8 billion gallons of fuel wasted sitting in traffic. Billions more dollars have been spent on electronics and systems to alleviate this logjam.” Brian Marshall, of the Canada Transportation Development Centre.
Cooperative Systems on the Move
Before we jump into this introduction to ITS, let me establish my background in the field. While most of my professional experience is in factory automation and high tech marketing, I have been interested in and have written and lectured on surveying, mapping, GPS/GIS, geomatics and intelligent systems over the last 15 years.
In 1997, I did a three part series on “Surveying the Future” for POB magazine, the leading U.S. publication for surveyors. I also keynoted and spoke at a number of surveyor and DOT conferences on advanced technology and intelligent systems. I served as a board member on the Geomatics Industries Association of America. In 1996, I wrote “Applying Lessons from Factory Automation” for GIM magazine, the International Journal for Geomatics. And in 1999, I wrote a monthly column for GeoInformatics magazine, a European publication covering the geospatial information industry.
Over the last five years Sanda has worked on long term projects with clients like Trimble, GE and TransCore on GPS, logistics and mobile asset tracking. And as this blog testifies, I maintain an ongoing interest in smart cars and intelligent transportation systems.
While the U.S. has been supporting ITS research for over a decade. The best online graphics and videos I found were from Europe. The above ITS overview and the below video are from European research groups.
This video is a demonstration of the depth of Europe’s commitment to tackling today’s challenges of increased demand for mobility, the automotive industry has joined forces with various universities, research centres and other stakeholders, in a smart drive to test eight different high-tech intelligent in-vehicle technologies on real roads, with real drivers.
There are a number of online and print publications that cover ITS. I provide a list of resources at the end of this intro. My perspective on ITS is influenced by not only my history in factory automation, autonomous vehicles and intelligent systems, it is also influenced by my bias for individual versus public transportation solutions and small, localized solutions using social media and people based technology as opposed to big government infrastructure solutions.
Public transportation, telecommuting and carpooling alternatives can help reduce congestion and will certainly play an important role in future transportation solutions. I think that like future energy solutions, transportation systems ought to be tailored to solve regional and even local environments. In other words it shouldn’t be a one size fits all type solution.
I like the idea of electric cars for small towns like Corvallis and other Willamette Valley cities. EVs also make sense in urban centers like Portland. In both cases, people generally commute short distances carrying light loads. EVs are not as appropriate for the folks in Bend and Pendleton where they have to drive further, carrying more stuff in larger vehicles. And they will not have ready access to recharging stations due to lesser population densities.
Alternative energy solutions need to take into account regional environments. Oregon is water rich and sunshine poor a good part of the year, as compared to Arizona which is sunshine rich and water weak year-round. Hydro power makes more sense here and solar power more sense there. Intelligent transportation systems are about implementation of smart communication, control and command technologies in appropriate ways to solve local and regional traffic challenges. Good applications engineering is about using the best tools for the job. It requires a deep understanding the job requirements, the customer’s needs and desires, and using the most cost effective, sustainable solution for the project.
Over the next few weeks I will be discussing an array of advanced technologies and systems that will be employed in ITS solutions. You will learn how innovative application of ITS can reduce traffic congestion and slash fuel consumption while increasing a couple of the great American freedoms, mobile independence and the joy of driving.
Happy trails to you!
Selected ITS resources
Please let me know if you know of other related sites.
Caltrans – ITS Architecture Documents and Websites http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/tpp/offices/opar/its_links.html
The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) produces globally-applicable standards for Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), including fixed, mobile, radio, converged, broadcast and internet technologies. http://www.etsi.org/WebSite/Technologies/IntelligentTransportSystems.aspx
The ITS Society advances the theoretical, experimental, and operational aspects of Electrical Engineering and Information Technologies as applied to ITS. http://www.ewh.ieee.org/tc/its/index.html
The Intelligent Transportation Society of Oregon (ITS Oregon) is a volunteer organization whose members foster ITS deployment through partnership building, education and outreach.http://itsoregon.org/about/
ITE Journal is published monthly by the Institute of Transportation Engineers. http://www.ite.org/itejournal/index.asp
OSU – The Kiewit Center for Infrastructure and Transportation was initially established in 1962 as the Transportation Research Institute. http://kiewit.oregonstate.edu/welcome.html
PDE Publications Inc. http://www.drivers.com/topic/106/
Major ITS Organizations http://www.calccit.org/itsdecision/Links/orgs.html
PSU – Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium http://otrec.us/content/
Telematics Update http://social.telematicsupdate.com/
UW – RITA, Transportation Northwest at the University of Washington is a Regional University Transportation Center (UTC) administered by the United States Department of Transportation through its Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) http://www.transnow.org/about/