What technology will it need?

On-vehicle; In stations; On highway; Back-office; Communications

Approach to defining Technology Requirements

The Technology Concept will have determined the broad approach. The next step is to determine the specific technology solution. This includes the systems to be used, the device types, where they are located, the distribution of function and intelligence, and how the various elements communicate with each other. The output from this step is selection and a detailed description of the ITS technologies to be deployed.

Technology requirements can be clustered according to four perspectives:

  • System/sub-system
  • Location
  • Technology type
  • Role

The System perspective

The System/sub-system perspective includes:

  • Operations Management systems
  • Control centre and dispatching
  • Resource management and deployment, including vehicle and crew scheduling and rostering
  • Fare collection
  • Journey planners and other pre-trip information systems
  • In-journey information, including real-time information
  • Customer support and help-desk services
  • Security and surveillance systems
  • Priority within traffic signal and traffic management
  • In-service vehicle management, including vehicle, engine and equipment condition monitoring
  • Maintenance management
  • Inventory management systems
  • Fuel issue and consumption monitoring systems
  • Driver and hazard monitoring systems and analysis
  • Passenger number and trip pattern analysis
  • Route service/quality performance analysis
  • Journey times, section speeds and variance analysis

The Location perspective

The Location Perspective includes:

  • In-vehicle
  • Control centre
  • Terminals
  • Bus-stops
  • Street-side (including junctions)
  • Area-wide (for communications)
  • Administration/planning centres
  • Internet
  • External agencies

The Technology Type Perspective 

The Technology Type perspective includes:

  • Operator/service devices
  • Customer-facing devices
  • Human/machine interfaces
  • Sensors/data generators
  • Processor units
  • Integrator units
  • Communications devices
  • Communications platforms
  • IT equipment (server, terminals, peripheral devices)
  • Application software
  • Data storage and management
  • Personal portable devices
  • Ticketing media

It should be noted that many devices have multiple embedded components and may perform multiple functions. In previous generations of ITS equipment, these may have involved multiple connected units. Now, a single integrated device may be sufficient. For example, a suitable GPS-enabled mobile phone may now be sufficient where previously it would have required a radio, a GPS unit, a driver interface/console and an integrating processor. Similarly, individual devices may now perform multiple functions, or suitable combination of two devices and shared processing may eliminate the need for a third device.

The Role perspective

The Role perspective includes:

  • Data generator
  • Data processor
  • Data transfer
  • Data store
  • Display or other such human/machine interface
  • Customer or operator service interface
  • Automation and/or machine initiated actions
  • Real-time / in-service processing and analysis
  • Optimisation and/or forecasting to support real-time/in-service actions
  • Post-event processing and analysis

Key factors in determining suitable technology

These are discussed below. As a general guidance, the technology that is needed would be considered according to the following criteria (similar criteria to the Technology Concept appraisal):

  • Ability to fulfil the functions defined in the functional specifications
  • Ability to generate, analyse, and store data, and share information with other devices
  • Ability to perform or support more than on function
  • Ease of use and quality of interface
  • Reliability and robustness
  • Lifecycle cost – purchase, operations and maintenance
  • Future expandability/enhancement
  • Level of standardisation, open software/architecture or proprietary system
  • Compatibility with existing devices/software
  • Future-proofing and risk of obsolescence

As with the Technology Concept phase, for most entities implementing ITS – especially those doing so for the first time – identifying the needed/suitable technology will draw heavily on current practices within the industry sector. While some adaptation will always be required, it is normal to identify what other successful Operators or Authorities are using, and to take this as a reference point.