Bringing C-ITS to cities of the future

  • 2018-02-13 09:31
  • Osama Al-Gazali, Albrecht Consult, Germany. Intertraffic World Magazine
  • Amsterdam

With the conclusion of the EU’s CIMEC (Cooperative ITS for Mobility in European Cities) project, it has become clear that integrating Cooperative Intelligent Transportation Systems into existing urban transport environments will require a new drive toward standardization in Europe

Digitization and fast-growing technological developments, such as Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS), are the building blocks of future transportation systems and will support automated driving solutions. C-ITS enables a two-way exchange of data and information between the traveler (e.g. in a vehicle) and road operator (e.g. traffic control center) to deliver smarter transportation systems. It acts as a catalyst for market disruption toward more optimized, added-value ITS services and consequently puts users in control. Changes in the ITS business model – and consequently data flow – from silo systems to integrated ones, are inevitable. 

The complexities of urban ITS

Urban ITS infrastructure has grown organically over several decades: the ITS for managing and controlling traffic were implemented through three core subsystems (traffic light controller, detection system, and parking guidance system); at a second stage, it integrated new systems and technologies such as prioritization of public transport and video detection systems. This organic evolution makes every city different and thus the challenge of integrating a new technology/solution varies from one city to the next. 

Unlike inter-urban roads, cities are much more complex in terms of ITS and communications for the following reasons: Firstly they have greater technical complexity, meaning standardization and interoperability present more of a challenge. Secondly, there are non-technical issues. A specific city environment, such as a complex transport network, will have many overlaying networks of different modes of transport. This can create a difficult communication environment, for example where ‘urban canyons’ and multipath usage make communications networks weak or jammed. Finally, there are organizational challenges,
such as different connection patterns with surrounding regions, limited skill sets among workers, and limited resources to innovate. 

Challenges of turning ITS into C-ITS

Through its investigation of the C-ITS standardization requirements for the urban environment, the Cooperative ITS for Mobility in European Cities (CIMEC) project found that the lack of standards is seen by suppliers as a significant technical barrier to urban C-ITS deployment. As the phase of deployment of C-ITS in cities begins, one important technical challenge lies in connecting C-ITS-enabled infrastructure to the existing legacy ITS system in the absence of a defined migration path from ITS to C-ITS.

The use of open-standards, interfaces and processes may considerably reduce the cost of buying equipment and boost confidence and trust in system reliability, as well as in the quality of products and services. An urban road operator prefers standards that are widely supported by their suppliers, since this eases the critical interaction in the system design and specification phase. 

The need for uniform standards

In this article, we address the integration challenges presented by emerging C-ITS products and solutions from an urban road operator’s point of view, identifying standardization issues that are not currently under discussion. They relate to subsystems, communication and processes, with an emphasis on their importance in relation to existing (regional) ITS standards (OCIT, UTMC, IVERA, etc) and urban procurement processes. Research for this article was carried out in two phases: desk research and a discussion with stakeholders.

In the desk research, various existing, relevant standards were initially identified and then assessed. In the second phase, a workshop, ‘C-ITS standardization requirements for the urban environment’ (Brussels, September 12, 2016), was organized to discuss cities’ standardization requirements. It identified where and how further standardization work may be needed. Standardization experts from relevant Standards Developing Organizations (SDO) technical committees on ITS (ISO, CEN, ETSI) also participated. 

Recommendations for C-ITS deployment 

The research led to key results involving the identification of relevant ITS/C-ITS standards that cities need to be aware of when procuring and deploying C-ITS along with suggestions on how such standards might be kept up-to-date. There are also standardization recommendations for the target audience (urban road operators and the European Commission, among others). The key results are as follows:

1) Standards already in use in urban ITS need to be adapted (e.g. OCIT, UMTC, and IVERA). The industry needs to establish a platform for national or regional SDOs in charge of existing urban standards that are currently planned to be addressed in the future on a European level by an ESO (European Standardization Organization). Issues such as mutual awareness, backward compatibility, migration paths, common cross-referencing and parallel evolution need to be addressed. Cities need to be kept informed about any conclusions drawn; the future relationship between national/regional SDOs and parallel activities needs to be transparent at an ESO level. 

2) Urban road operators should be encouraged to build-up technical as well as financial capacity to contribute to required standardization.
Financial capacity could be stimulated by funding schemes that specifically address such standardization activities. Technical capacity could be created by dedicated actions to develop guidelines and online educational services, but also by raising awareness as to which standards require road operator contribution and how this contribution could best
be established.

3) A list of standards should be agreed upon that have an impact on urban operators’ business processes. Standards in this category need to stimulate road operator contribution to the respective standardization activities. Instruments to raise awareness and stimulate contribution are needed. Guidelines should be considered for possible changes of existing business processes to make existing ITS cooperative-enabled.

4) A dedicated activity should be begun to describe a required testing specification for C-ITS services and equipment for road operators. Supporting actions to build up technical capacity (and maybe also financial capacity) to test standards and testing as a whole should be extended. Also the development process for conformance tests of infrastructure-based messages should be accelerated.

Requirements of public road authorities 

Further standardization recommendations came up during the discussion of the CIMEC workshop. Due to the lack of technical capacities, cities would not like to be involved in detailing technical functionalities, but are interested in buying a cooperative component for the intended service. Therefore, it is ideal for them to write their conformance statement for tendering with respect to the cooperative services that are of particular interest. The following set of requirements was identified for public road authorities:

1) All equipment should be able to communicate via compatible 3G, 4G, ITS G5, etc.

2) The means of communication should be agnostic and interoperable.

3) Remote updating of the application parameters protocol at any time should be included. In other words, the protocol should be maintained remotely.

4) Certified level of IT-security to prevent misuse of the systems.

Supplementary requirements

During the discussion, other standardization activities missed by some of the participants
– including attending cities – were: 

1) An awareness of necessary tools and methods to accelerate the expected changes to business processes, so that new tasks can be completed. 

2) Common standardized security mechanisms.

3) Trusted authority for C-ITS security.

These last three recommendations are addressed by the C-ITS platform and ESO, and are still part of an ongoing effort. 

Toward a European C-ITS standard 

The overall conclusions support the ITS pre-study (PT1701) recommendation of having a Europe-wide control interface standard to link roadside devices such as signal controllers to in-station/center systems, with a strong involvement of public road authorities and thus regional standardization associations. This interface should include migration paths by design, for example technical options on how to migrate from existing to future systems.

There should also be a long-term standardization activity plan for an open architecture within ‘single black boxes’ (equipment) from vendors. The figure (left) maps this interface in the use-case example.

Future research should focus on suggestions of more concrete mechanisms, how urban road operators’ requirements can systematically integrate the current standardization activities, and a further investigation of other regional standardization associations.

Source: Intertraffic World Magazine 


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