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21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Effects on Intelligent Transportation Systems Planning and Deployment in a Connected Vehicle Environment

Executive Summary

Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) are defined by the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) as "the integration of advanced communication technologies into the transportation technologies and vehicles. Intelligent transportation systems encompass a broad range of wireless and wire line communications-based information and electronics technologies." (Definition obtained from the U.S. DOT Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office.)

ITS planning and deployment involves the design and implementation of this technology to provide better services to users and reduce environmental impacts. ITS technologies encompass all transportation modes, from pedestrian activities to freight movement. By implementing technologies over a region, the mobility and accessibility of the region can be enhanced, helping users go to where they want to go, when they want to, in a safer and more reliable manner.

Throughout the relatively short history of ITS, infrastructure procurements and operations planning have had to consider the impact of rapidly changing technology. Historically this has included areas such as video monitoring, introduction of advanced traffic signal controllers, and new communications technologies.

A Connected Vehicle (CV) environment enables wireless communications among vehicles (Vehicle-to-Vehicle, or V2V), infrastructure (Vehicle-to-Infrastructure, or V2I), and mobile devices (sometimes called nomadic devices). Vehicles include light vehicles, trucks, and transit vehicles. Pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists can carry mobile (nomadic) devices, allowing vehicles and infrastructure to communicate with other CV participants and vice versa (Vehicle-to-Anything, or V2X). The information shared through these communications may include the following:

  • Presence, speed, location, and direction of travel.
  • Road and traffic conditions.
  • On-board vehicle data, such as emissions, braking, and windshield wiper activation. (The availability of on-board vehicle data for planning purposes is subject to Original Equipment Manufacturer's (OEM) support, privacy, and legal agreements.)

The main conclusion of the research is that connected vehicle technology may gradually change how roadway operations functions are carried out. Some of the identified trends are already relatively clear while others need to await greater market penetration of CV and Automated Vehicle (AV) devices.

CV technology may impact investment decisions related to transportation operations. Over time, Transportation Management Centers (TMCs) and ITS systems could change dramatically, with the timeframe largely dependent on the adoption of technology by private citizens and fleet operators.

Some examples of anticipated impacts (on both urban and rural transportation networks) include the:

  • Migration of Traveler Information Dissemination from Public to Private Sources—The migration of traveler information dissemination from public to private sources is already well underway. Information increasingly tailored to individual vehicles can be sent directly into the vehicle via navigation systems, smartphone applications or emerging telematics systems which generally include both. CV technology may be a factor in this as well.
  • Reduction of Crash Rates—Crash rates are anticipated to decrease over time, although this may be partially offset by the addition of new vehicles on the road. Resources may be needed to support safe operation of CV and AV vehicles. This could include communications and security systems, as well as infrastructure-related needs such as striping and lighting.
  • Enhancement of Traffic Management Strategies Related to Recurring Congestion—Traffic management strategies related to recurring congestion, such as ramp metering and signal coordination, may be enhanced by CV technologies that could provide data from individual vehicles and communicate directly with roadside controllers.
  • Enhancement of Traffic Management Strategies Related to Non-Recurring Congestion—Traffic management strategies related to non-recurring congestion, such as road weather, construction and special events, may also be enhanced by CV technology that could provide much richer data on real-time conditions via observations from individual vehicles.
  • Effect of Issues of Ownership, Security, and Privacy of the CV-Related Data—Issues of ownership, security, and privacy related to CV data may impact some applications and their potential benefits.
  • Need for New Operational Policies and Practices—New operational policies and practices will be needed to address the potential operational impacts of truck platooning, automated vehicles in mixed fleets, and closer headways among vehicles.

The following are actions that agencies may choose to take to prepare for CV impacts on ITS. These are loosely organized into short-term (zero to five years), medium-term (five to 15 years), and long-term (more than 15 years out).

In the short-term:

  • Operating agencies may choose to reach out to and engage with a larger stakeholder audience, some of whom have not participated in the past. These new stakeholders may include vehicle and telematics manufacturers as well as cybersecurity firms. Several agencies have benefited from the formation of advisory panels, composed of multiple stakeholder public agencies as well as private sector stakeholders. Many agencies have found such panels to be relatively easy to develop and maintain given the cross-cutting energy and enthusiasm around the CV and AV topic.
  • Agencies may choose to develop a Concept of Operations (ConOps) for their organization that describes the characteristics of the proposed system and identifies the roles, features, functions, and communications needed and addressed by advancing CV planning efforts.
  • Agencies may choose to incorporate planned CV technology into their ITS architectures and strategic plans. This may include how modifications to their central systems, data collection, data archiving, and performance measures will occur.
  • Agencies may choose to incorporate additional technology investments into their freeway management systems and software. Planning direction will be needed on timing, funding, and when technologies will potentially be phased out.
  • As agencies collect CV data they likely will need support in the areas of data security and privacy. Even if private parties have the primary role, agencies will likely still need to understand and plan for the increased data quantities, security, and privacy.
  • Agencies may choose to identify any existing regulatory and/or legal hurdles to CV investment and testing. To encourage innovative technology development, it is still critical to assess any existing regulatory and legal barriers that are not in line with an agency's vision for CV. The review of regulatory and legal hurdles would consider typical testing and deployment requirements.
  • Innovations in CV are best accompanied with partnerships with neighboring and overlapping agencies/jurisdictions to support seamless interoperability. The level of partnerships can be determined by needs, ranging from simple communication of planned improvements and investments up to coordinated infrastructure purchase and deployment to ensure interoperability.

In the medium-term:

  • Agencies may choose to adopt strict security policies and procedures for all systems and users of the CV systems and networks.
  • Agencies can work with their preferred equipment vendors (traffic controllers) to develop the upgrades necessary to support the CV interface to support the Signal Phase and Timing (SPaT) message content and any data collection.
  • Education of the public may be needed, although less with CV than with AV. Agencies may want to help alert the public to opportunities.
  • As agencies begin to incorporate CV technology into the infrastructure, equipment maintenance costs and personnel requirements will need to be determined and budgeted. Concepts of operation may help to incorporate CV technology into operations and define thresholds for phasing out obsolete technology. These systems may also be incorporated into the Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS) (in some cases) as well as asset management systems.
  • While many agencies are well equipped to integrate CV technologies into existing ITS programs, as the technology evolves agencies will need to consider how agency and staff roles and responsibilities evolve in kind. A review of agency structure, organization, roles, and responsibilities can help agencies take the necessary steps to proactively adapt to achieve their vision, rather than relying on historical agency roles and responsibilities. This could include a vision for the creation of new agencies, mergers of existing agencies, or updating structures and responsibilities within agencies.
  • Agencies may choose to develop data monitoring and feedback mechanisms to observe and understand the impacts existing CV deployments are having on performance and operations. As more active CV systems are deployed, agencies will gain knowledge on return on investment and performance impacts to shape future deployment and operation strategies.
  • With rapid advance of technology, agencies will likely need new methods of keeping up with technical and institutional developments, and identifying information that is relevant to their planning and operations. Examples of potential activities include facilitation of an advisory panel, participation in pooled fund study groups, research panels, and industry conferences, and monitoring industry newsletters.

In the long-term:

  • Agencies may choose to develop a communications master plan to support their traffic control systems and CV backhaul; this should be a complete communications architecture to support their video, traffic management, and CV needs, as well as the requirements of their other ITS devices. For the next decade, it is unlikely that CV technology will replace traditional ITS device deployment—but CV technology will likely place an added burden on the agency's IT security systems, network security, and communications networks.
  • The concept of "technology" refreshment will become more significant; we have all observed that the "cell phone" has evolved to a powerful hand held computer—with additional features as they become practical in the product continuum. The implementation of CV technology is likely to require large scale upgrades or even equipment replacement as the communications technology evolves.
  • Agencies likely will need to make major additions to their repair facilities to be able to assess the operation of their roadside communications units.
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