The Implementation phase covers all aspects of delivering a fully-functioning system, once the decision has been taken to proceed with the ITS project. This includes procurement, testing, installation, configuration, commissioning, training, and commencing operations.
The Guidance presents 4 steps in the Implementation phase:
- Supply the needed system
- Install the system in the respective working environment
- Deploy the system
- Make good use of the system
At the end of the Implementation Phase, the ITS systems should be fully operational, and the transport organization should have begun to harness the value-added from their investment.
13 Supply the needed system
Themes: Technical specification; Technology and platform; Tendering; Contracting
The procurement of ITS systems is a complex task for which specialist knowledge is required. For first-time implementers of ITS, attempting to do it all in-house is a very high-risk strategy with major consequences if errors are made. It will be necessary to engage some experts for specific tasks. It is strongly recommended to engage independent expertise to support the ITS deployment team.
Potential sources of such expertise are other government/city agencies or departments that have IT and systems expertise; specialist firms and consultants from the communications and other technology sectors who have no vested interest in either the technology choice or the resulting contracts; and experts from transport authorities or operators in other cities or countries. This expertise can also be supplemented by partnering with transport operators or cities who have successfully implemented similar ITS.
Bidding documents needs to be prepared. Detailed specifications of the ITS system will have been developed in the Design phase, and these provide the main technical inputs for the procurement of the ITS systems. As a general principle, the focus in the bidding documents should be on Functional Specifications (i.e. what the system should perform) rather than on complex Technical Specifications (i.e. how the system works).
Suppliers understand ITS technology better than Clients (especially those who do not yet have much experience) and they can tailor the solutions to best meet the requirements. They are more familiar with advances and emerging trends in technologies. Perhaps more importantly, they will have already provided similar applications or devices for other Clients, and they know how to bundle functions, utilities, applications and features in the most cost-effective way. Excessive technical specification by the Client may impose unnecessary design burdens and development cost, and may also inadvertently limit the number of compliant suppliers.
Procurement of ITS should generally follow a two-stage approach. The first stage selects a shortlist of potentially suitable suppliers, who are invited to submit detailed bids in the second stage. In the first stage, the Client should make clear what its preferences are for proven or innovative technologies, for high-end or low-end solutions, the relative importance of cost to functionality, and whether it wants a simple practical system for immediate application or a basis for future expansion. This will help to focus the supplier offers to what the Client seeks. This also avoids wasting everyone’s time and money in preparing and assessing irrelevant proposals.
The selection criteria should be devised in advance of the procurement process, and should be carefully designed to deliver a solution that meets the Client needs. The evaluation and selection team should include relevant experts (internal and external). ITS proposal documentation is lengthy and complex. It needs to be very carefully reviewed by experts, in part to ensure that the best system is selected, in part because the technical proposal is likely to form annexes to the Contract and thus be relevant for many years.
The more complex an ITS system, the more important it is to develop a partnership with the supplier. Contract design and detail needs to reflect this, while still protecting the Client, as capture of the Client by the Supplier is a clear and present danger in all major investment programs.
14 Install the system in the respective working environment
Themes: Vehicle adaptation; Fixed infrastructure; Linkages and communications
Most ITS systems include devices that are installed in the vehicles, at roadside locations (e.g. in bus stops), or at public transport locations (e.g. at bus stations). This requires careful planning and advance preparation for works. The most important aspects are:
- Nominate a project manager for all installations. Engage external experience if the skills are not available in-house – attempting to save on this cost is a false economy
- Nominate a Systems Integrator if multiple devices/systems will be installed in the vehicles or at any other location. The Systems Integrator is the nominated entity responsible for ensuring integration, co-ordination and successful interface across the ITS (sub-) systems, and with any relevant legacy and non-ITS systems. The Systems Integrator would typically be either the leading ITS supplier who co-ordinates the other suppliers, or a specialist firm awarded that specific task.
- Develop a comprehensive architecture, network and wiring plan for buses, bus stations, etc. Make it mandatory for all contractors to respect this plan and train their staff accordingly
- Plan in sufficient time for all installation works, especially those in public areas where approvals or way-leaves will be required.
- Avail of advance opportunities to install communications (e.g. fiber optic cables), wiring and power supplies – e.g. when ordering vehicles, when building stations and passenger interchange terminals
15 Deploy the system
Themes: Planning; Business processes; Human resource; Data streams
ITS deployment needs to be carefully planned and properly resourced. A comprehensive plan should cover all aspects of the deployment, and should also have contingencies for known risks associated with the ITS. There is substantial international experience in deployment of ITS, and this should be availed of.
An ITS Deployment Team should be established, resourced and given clear responsibilities. Capacity building is important, and includes both technical training and know-how transfer. Expertise should be brought into the team where it is needed. Installation is a major logistics challenge, and needs to be adequately resourced.
A formal testing regime should be established for the ITS system. This may include prototype test and approvals, but in all cases it should include final product acceptance before the Client agrees to receive and pay for it. All incoming hardware and software should be formally tested prior to installation. It is advisable to install a small batch to test both the installation method and the in-situ performance of the ITS equipment/system. Following a period of initial in-situ test and live running, the ITS system should be formally commissioned.
In parallel to the technical installation, it is also necessary to plan for and carry out training of frontline personnel, back-office system personnel, and end-users.
16 Make good use of the system
Themes: Integration; Optimization
Successful deployment of an ITS system is just the opening stage of an ongoing process. The ITS system represents a major investment, and it is important to make the best possible use of it. Experience shows that it takes quite some time for transport organizations to fully embed the ITS within their organization, and to fully appreciate how to make the best use of it.
Making best use of a new ITS system usually takes place over three phases:
- The first phase occurs in the first 1-2 years. This ensures that the system works reliably, is optimized, and gains credibility with the various users. This is a familiarization phase. There is usually a lot of error resolution and fine-tuning based on experience of actual use.
- The second phase usually begins in the second or third year. The transport entity begins to develop how it uses the ITS system and the information that it generates. New operational strategies will be developed and tested. The operations data will be used to improve schedules. Enhanced analysis and reporting will be performed. Other departments will start to use the data. They will automate the inputs or data transfer to save cost and time and eliminate errors.
- The third phase usually occurs after several years of operation when the transport entity has gained experience, and understands how it can build on the original system. This can include extended functionality, additional technologies, or even new ITS sub-systems
Experience from the Case Studies shows that successful transport organizations develop their ITS systems, and continually seek to gain value from their investment.
ITS users should be aware that their ITS equipment and software often includes or can support more functionality that they had specified (or even knew they were getting). ITS suppliers develop their products to meet the needs of a range of customers. It is usually easier to include all basic features, or at least their interfaces, than to remove everything the Client did not ask for (which risks errors and instability). As a result, Clients often find that they can harness these additional features at little or no extra costs. This is especially the case where there is a good working relationship between Client and Supplier.