Intelligent Transportation Systems
Brief Abstracts

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Serving "People in Motion"

(May/June 2000)

The wireless communication revolution is taking the automobile industry by storm. Telematics -- a broad term that refers to vehicle-based wireless communication systems and information services -- is increasingly seen by the leaders of the U.S. automobile industry as the new cutting edge automotive innovation. General Motors Chairman, Jack Smith, believes that "motor vehicles are...becoming mobile communications platforms that can keep motorists safe, informed and productive in previously unimaginable ways." Jacques A. Nasser, Ford Motor's chief executive, thinks "we will do nothing short of transforming our cars and trucks into a portal for the Internet."

The Auto Industry on the Threshold of Revolutionary Change

(March/April 2000)

"The automobile business is about to experience the most profound and revolutionary changes it has seen since the Model T hit the streets. There are many reasons for these changes, but three in particular stand out: the rise of the Internet as a tool of business and commerce, the arrival of mass-production alternatives to the internal combustion engine and the growing demand for greater corporate social responsibility."
William Clay Ford, Jr., Chairman Ford Motor Company

The Smart Card Revolution

(November/December 1999)

The vision of making smart cards a passport to cashless transportation is technically within our grasp. In principle, a commuter will soon be able to leave home, refuel the car, pay a toll on the way to the train station, park at a garage, take a commuter train, and call the office from the train on a cellular phone all with the swipe or a wave of a single smart card. Soon this vision will be reality.

The Market for Telematics is Expanding

(November/December 1999)

By the year 2001, it is estimated that over one million vehicles will be equipped with devices that can send and receive text and voice messages and continuously communicate precise vehicle location. How to commercially exploit this emerging new capability may become a key challenge for the automakers and the infant ITS industry.

On the Cutting Edge of Traffic Management

(July/August 1999)

Traffic management is turning out to be one of the Intelligent Transportation technologies' most successful applications. Advanced communication and information technologies are being used to more effectively control traffic flow, manage highway incidents, collect highway tolls and allocate parking space. Described below are a few of the more imaginative applications, as documented by MIT's International Mobility Observatory which monitors the state of transportation innovation throughout the world.

Car Makers See New Business Opportunities In Catering to Motorists' Needs (Commentary)

(July/August 1999)

The variety of telematics services -- i.e., wireless delivery of information, music, entertainment, emergency assistance and other services to drivers in their vehicles -- is increasing rapidly. For auto makers, providing telematics services to car customers long after they leave the showroom potentially represents billions of dollars of added business. It is not surprising, therefore, that telematics is becoming a subject of intense interest and scrutiny within the auto industry.


(May/June 1999)

The unveiling last December by Clarion Corporation of America of its "Auto PC" marked an important milestone in the evolution of the ITS market in the United States. That day, symbolically, ushered in the age of telematics defined loosely as electronic delivery of information-based services to users via devices in motor vehicles.

Radio Data Systems (RDS)

(Sep/Oct 1998)

The use of FM subcarriers (also known as radio data systems or RDS) to deliver traveler information to motorists in their cars is on the verge of widespread deployment in Europe. In the United States, on the other hand, this method of wireless transmission is still in its infancy. What accounts for this technology gap?

The Wired Car

(Jul/Aug 1998)

Remember when a mobile cellular phone was considered the frontier of communications technology? Not any more. Soon, personal computers will offer car owners the ultimate in connectedness. Motorists will be able to download information from the Internet, send and retrieve e-mail, transfer data from their office computers, receive real-time traffic information and weather reports, and obtain driving directions. Such at least, is the future as seen by Microsoft, Intel, and a host of other computer firms.

Florida's Traveler Information Radio Network

(May/Jun 1998)

A novel traveler information concept is about to undergo a two-year trial in Florida. The Traveler Information Radio Network (TIRN) is a statewide network of commercial radio stations that will continuously broadcast news and information of interest to intercity travelers on Florida's limited access highways, while at the same time alerting them to traffic, road and weather conditions.

GM's OnStar : Offering Safety, Security and Convenience -- Can Electronic Shopping Be Far Behind?

(Jan/Feb 1998)

Personal safety and security, followed closely by travel-related services, are what motorists seem to want most out of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) technology. General Motors offers both in its OnStar service which combines wireless communication and Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite technology with old-fashioned attention to personalized customer service. But is there more behind GM's strategy than meets the eye?

French Traveler Information Services

(Nov/Dec 1997)

France possesses one of the most extensive public traveler information networks in the world. Currently, five radio stations broadcast on a single frequency (107.7 FM) and cover more than 2,800 miles of autoroutes. Regional traffic management centers collect data on traffic conditions utilizing police patrols, loop detectors, TV cameras and aerial surveillance. This information is processed and broadcast 24 hours a day. Motorists can receive traffic information relative to their own sector (60-120 mile radius) as well as for the entire national autoroute system. Now, traveler information is being raised to a new level of sophistication with the launching of a commercial traffic information service called "Visionaute," and its transit counterpart, "Infobus."

Trafficmaster: U.K.'s Nationwide Traveler Information System

(Sept./Oct. 1997)

While U.S. deployment of advanced traveler information systems has proceeded largely at the metropolitan level, the United Kingdom has adopted a different approach. There, a private firm has been building a nationwide ATIS system aimed largely at the intercity traveler. By the summer of 1998, the system is expected to cover the entire British motorway network and all of the country's 10,000 km trunk (primary) roads.

Broadcasting vs "Narrowcasting" of Traveler Information

(July/August 1997)

On July 1, the Washington Metropolitan Traveler Information Service made its official debut. The $12.2 million demonstration project, funded by the federal government, is the latest in a series of initiatives that offer frequently updated route-specific traffic information by telephone, on the Internet and, eventually, on car navigation systems and other wireless communication devices. The project has brought into focus a long simmering debate about the relative merits of broadcasting vs. "narrowcasting" of traveler information.

Assessing the Impact of Traveler Information Systems

(May/June 1997)

In what ways can up-to-the-minute information about traffic conditions and travel options help commuters in their daily trip to work? A recent meeting sponsored by the Institute of Transportation Engineers, ITS America, and the Association for Commuter Transportation tried to come up with some answers.

The Intranet - A New Instrument of Traveler Information

(Jan/Feb 1997)

Providing workers with timely and accurate travel-related information in the workplace has been one of the objectives of ITS deployment. Arming employees with reliable information about the state of the roads may help them choose the least congested route home and the best time of departure. But giving employees convenient access to such information is easier said than done. While traffic advisories are readily obtainable on afternoon news broadcasts, most employees do not have radios in their offices. Similarly, company policies often prohibit workers from accessing the Internet, another rich source of traffic information. Enter the Intranet.

Will Deployment of Smart Technology Help Unsnarl Traffic ?

(December 1996)

With the inauguration of the "Smart Corridor" project on Los Angeles' Santa Monica Freeway, integrated freeway-arterial traffic management may be said to have come of age. The project will utilize an assortment of electronic data gathering and communication technologies to help traffic authorities spot problems faster and take effective countermeasures to keep traffic flowing. How well this advanced traffic management system will do its job depends in a large measure on whether it can effectively divert motorists to less congested routes. As a companion Brief ("Consumer Response to Traveler Information Systems") suggests, our understanding of how motorists respond to traveler information is still in its infancy. The Santa Monica Freeway demonstration project may help to fill some gaps in our knowledge of consumer behavior.

Consumer Response to Traveler Information Systems

(December 1996)

Improving the quality of traveler information has been a prime objective of the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Program. Accurate and timely reports about traffic conditions and current information about travel options would enable travelers to make more informed decisions about route, travel mode, and time of departure, and lead to faster commutes and a more efficient transportation system. Such, at least, is the premise behind advanced traveler information systems (ATIS) But how valid is this premise? Innovation Briefs set out to search for the answers by interviewing a group of commuters and examining a recent employee survey. The results suggest that our notions about the impact of traveler information systems may need to be re-examined.

Toronto's Highway 407: First All-Electronic Highway

(October 1996)

The soon-to-be-opened Highway 407 on the northern periphery of metropolitan Toronto marks a new stage in the automation of toll collection. The "407" will employ a totally cashless toll collection system. All vehicles will be able to travel without stopping at toll booths - even those that do not carry pre-paid accounts or stored-value transponders. The "407" is regarded by many as a precursor of the toll road of the future.

Is There a Consumer Market for Traveler Information Services?

(August 1996)

Having access to accurate and timely travel information is something all motorists desire. But are they willing to pay for it? With so much "free" information already available in the public domain, the answer is not by any means clear.

The Intelligent Transportation Infrastructure (ITI) Initiative
An Informal Opinion Survey

(June 1996)

In announcing Operation TimeSaver in January 1996, DOT Secretary Peña posed an ambitious challenge: within a decade, he said, he wants to see 75 of the largest metropolitan areas outfitted with a complete Intelligent Transportation Infrastructure. Is the country ready for this challenge? Is the ITI a sound investment of federal dollars? We posed these questions to more than two dozen local and state transportation officials, industry representatives and transportation professionals attending the Sixth Annual Meeting of ITS America in Houston. Their answers, and a frank, "off the record" assessment of where the ITI initiative is going, are presented below.

Traveler Information Systems: The Future is Now

(June 1996)

Enabling commuters to make informed travel choices by providing them with accurate real-time information about traffic conditions has always been a key objective of the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) program. With the recent unveiling of "Fast Trac TV" at the Chrysler Technology Center and the proliferation of "Commuter Pages" on the Internet, there are solid indications that this objective is well on its way to being attained.

Applying ITS Technologies
to Travel Demand Management: II

(April 1996)

A six-month long inquiry by an ITS-America Task Force on Travel Demand Management and a recent workshop sponsored by the Texas Transportation Institute in association with the Institute of Transportation Engineers and ITS America have revealed a large number of Travel Demand Management (TDM) projects utilizing advanced communications and information technologies. The applications can be broadly classified in five categories: (1) pre-trip planning (2) parking management (3) congestion pricing (4) transit service enhancements; and (5) telecommuting. Selected examples of pre-trip planning applications were described in the December 1995 issue of Innovation Briefs. This issue concludes the report with an overview of applications in the remaining four categories.

Operation TimeSaver:
A New Direction for the Federal ITS Program

(February 1996)

Impatient with the slow progress local jurisdictions are making in the deployment of intelligent transportation systems, the U.S. Department of Transportation has unveiled a new initiative designed to accelerate installation of intelligent transportation infrastructure in the nation's metropolitan areas.

Applying ITS Technologies
to Travel Demand Management

(December 1995)

Can the use of advanced communications and information technologies enhance our capability to manage travel demand? And, in turn, can travel demand management (TDM) create opportunities for the application of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) technologies and a market for ITS products and services? These questions have been the subject of a special six-month long inquiry by an ITS-America Task Force on Travel Demand Management and of a recent workshop sponsored by the Texas Transportation Institute in association with the Institute of Transportation Engineers and ITS America. The conclusions reached in these two forums will be summarized in this and subsequent Briefs.

Intelligent Transportation System:
If they Build it Will They Come?

(October 1995)

While Congress has given the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) program a renewed vote of confidence, the program still faces many uncertainties. The House Transportation Subcommittee, while admitting the program has made some significant strides in the four years of its existence, has denied the Administration's request to launch a large-scale national deployment of ITS infrastructure (Trailblazer initiative), pronouncing the initiative as "premature." In the meantime, a debate about the national purpose of the ITS program and the appropriate federal role in promoting ITS, continues. To its advocates, ITS represents "the best opportunity before us today to address the problems of highway safety, mobility and productivity." To its critics ITS is "a set of grand technological solutions in desperate search of a problem." Both views oversimplify the complex issues involved in the debate.

Advanced Transportation Management Centers

(August 1995)

Advances in computer and communications technology have vastly enhanced our ability to manage transportation systems on an areawide basis. Emblematic of this capability is the concept of the integrated Transportation Management Center (TMC). The TMC is a sophisticated command post whose operators can monitor traffic flow, remotely adjust the timing of traffic signals, detect incidents and dispatch emergency equipment, track the movement of transit vehicles and communicate with their operators, monitor the capacity of parking facilities, manage the operation of HOV facilities, and issue advisories to the traveling public. Several rudimentary TMCs are already in operation, notably in Houston, Oakland County MI, Seattle, Montgomery County MD, Minneapolis and San Antonio. Many others are expected to be deployed in the years to come, as metropolitan areas embark on deployment of intelligent transportation systems. We have asked transportation officials and ITS experts to describe an advanced Transportation Management Center of the future. Their composite vision follows.

The Atlanta "Traveler Information Showcase"
An Opportunity to Test the Market

(April 1995)

The 1986 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, with its influx of hundreds of thousands of visitors and multiple events staged throughout the metropolitan area, present city and state transportation officials potentially with a logistical nightmare. Handling the crowds, managing traffic and accommodating parking needs of many thousands of extra visitors, while already facing serious capacity constraints on the existing transportation system, will be a daunting challenge. It will also provide an exciting opportunity to put the technology of the intelligent transportation system (ITS) to a practical test.

Is There A Market for Advanced Traveler Information Services?

(December 1994)

One of the cornerstones of the national Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Program are the so-called Advanced Traveller Information Systems otherwise known as ATIS. Is there a potential commercial market for these systems? Or is ATIS a technology-driven "solution in search of a problem," that can sustain itself only with government support? The answer depends in part on whether private industry is willing to pick up the challenge. There is evidence, both here and abroad, that this is precisely what is happening.

Electronic Toll Collection Systems

(October 1994)

Cars pass through a toll plaza without coming to a stop. Tags mounted on the vehicles' windshields are "read" electronically by a sensor at the tollgate. The roadside computer deducts the amount of the toll from the drivers' prepaid tag. Fumbling for change while waiting in long lines to pay a toll has become a thing of the past. Traffic backups at toll plazas have disappeared and pollution levels have gone down. The toll authority's revenue collection process has become more efficient and its plans to expand the toll plaza to accommodate more toll booths can now be scrapped at a significant cost savings. The above scenario is not a futurist's dream. It describes electronic toll collection systems operating on half a dozen toll facilities today and contemplated by a score of other U.S. and foreign toll roads in the years ahead. It is but an early example of the practical payoff the traveling public may expect from the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) technology.

Managing Travel Demand with IVHS Technologies

(August 1994)

Attempts to influence or "manage" travel demand (commonly known as "TDM") have met with less than complete success. Regulatory "command and control" approaches, as exemplified by trip reduction ordinances (such as Southern California's Rule 1501) have failed to change commuters' travel habits. Pricing techniques - such as variable tolls and parking charges, congestion pricing and parking "cash-out" - while more likely, in principle, to influence travel behavior - have not been widely embraced for lack of public support.

An emerging family of advanced communications, electronics and computer technologies - collectively known as "intelligent transportation technologies" - may now be able to enhance our ability to manage transportation demand - and help to realize some of TDM's unfulfilled expectations. A special IVHS-AMERICA Task Force is examining the IVHS-TDM interface across a broad spectrum of applications. The main subjects of the Task Force's attention are discussed below.

The Houston Intelligent Transportation System
Moving the Vision Closer to Reality

(June 1994)

Most localities still perceive the concept of Intelligent Vehicle Highway Systems or IVHS as a distant vision. One city, however, has taken a giant leap forward toward transforming this vision into a practical reality. Houston's Intelligent Transportation System is an attempt to apply an array of advanced data processing and communications technologies to the management of highways, transit and travel demand across the entire metropolitan region - an area covering more than 600 square miles. Houston's initiative offers an early glimpse of what the future may hold for metropolitan transportation management in the 21st century.

Thinking Small About Intelligent Transportation Systems

(April 1994)

The IVHS Program is shifting into high gear. The Administration's budget request for fiscal year 1995 increases IVHS funding by 35 percent - in a transportation budget whose overall level is only 2 percent higher than in 1994. The $289 million IVHS budget request contains almost $51 million for R&D, $69 million for operational tests and $58 million for priority IVHS corridors. While futuristic applications - such as in-vehicle navigation and route guidance systems - have grabbed the headlines, IVHS technologies are already quietly being applied in a number of practical ways. Several examples of such applications are presented below. Further examples will be described in a future issue.

Advanced Traveler Information Systems:
One Step Closer to Commercial Application?

(July 1993)

While commercial radio traffic advisories will maintain their pre-eminence long into the future, a new generation of advanced traveler information systems (ATIS) promises to bring about vast improvements in our ability to monitor, interpret and transmit traffic-related data in real time. Emerging as a byproduct of the communication revolution, ATIS systems utilize advanced technologies of data collection, analysis, transmission and video graphics display, to arm motorists and fleet operators with an information base on which to make sound travel and scheduling decisions. Is there a private market for such services and can ATIS systems become commercially viable? This is a question which several ATIS projects, currently in planning and early implementation stages, are attempting to answer.

The New Technology of Parking Management

(May 1993)

The storage and pricing of parked vehicles - otherwise known as parking management - is the latest aspect of transportation management to have been touched by the technological revolution. Not surprisingly, many of the "smart" solutions to the parking problem have come from abroad, where severe congestion and shortage of space in city centers has provided strong economic incentives for technological innovation. This Brief describes some of the new developments in the emerging technology of Advanced Parking Management Systems.

Advanced Traveler Information Systems:
A New Tool of Congestion Management

(December 1992)

A group of technologies known as Intelligent Vehicle-Highway Systems (IVHS) has captured the attention and imagination of a growing segment of the transportation community. Congress recognized the potential of IVHS in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) by authorizing a $600 million IVHS program over the next six years. IVHS is not a distant vision. More than a dozen real-world operational tests of IVHS systems and services are currently underway and many more are on the drawing board. This Brief describes how one particular IVHS technology - the Advanced Traveler Information Systems - can improve transportation efficiency and relieve traffic congestion by enhancing the trip makers' ability to plan ahead and make informed travel decisions.

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