Systems Engineering and ITS Project Development
Systems engineering is an organized approach to developing and implementing a system. The approach can be applied when developing any type of system. The International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) defines systems engineering as “an interdisciplinary approach and means to enable the realization of successful systems. It focuses on defining customer needs and required functionality early in the development cycle, documenting requirements, then proceeding with design synthesis and system validation while considering the complete problem.” It is crucial to use the systems engineering approach in designing intelligent transportation systems (ITS) infrastructure so that the technology effectively supports the management and operation of the transportation system. A systems engineering analysis is required for all ITS projects using Federal funds per Title 23 CFR 940.11.
Although there are many ways to represent the systems engineering process, the winged “V” (or “Vee”) model shown in the figure below has been broadly adopted in the transportation industry. The Regional ITS Architecture, shown as the first step in the process, is addressed here.
Figure 1. The Systems Engineering "V" Model. Click to enlarge.
The outputs of the planning for operations approach such as operations objectives and performance measures should be applied to the development of an ITS project. The approach provides a systematic method for ITS and operations project developers to design their systems to achieve the desired operations objectives. The systems engineering approach helps to ensure that the system or operations strategy is responsive to the needs of all stakeholders, such as the traveling public, transit operators, businesses, incident responders, transportation management center (TMC) operators, and others.
- FHWA Office of Operations - Facilitating Integrated ITS Deployment Program Systems Engineering
- Designing for Transportation Management and Operations: A Primer (HTML, PDF 2.2MB)
- Model Systems Engineering Documents for Adaptive Signal Control Technology (ASCT) Systems (HTML, PDF 1.6MB)
 International Council on Systems Engineering, "What is Systems Engineering?" Web Site, June 2004. Available at: http://www.incose.org/practice/whatissystemseng.aspx, last accessed June 9, 2013.
 Visit http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/int_its_deployment/sys_eng.htm for additional information and resources, including the Systems Engineering Handbook and Systems Engineering Guidebook.