3.1 - Intelligent Transport: An Economic, Social And Ecological Challenge

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    An emerging sector

    Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) can be deployed on multiple levels and involve numerous players in a variety of ways ranging from consortiums to public-private partnerships and research agreements.

    The diverse range of parties involved and the fact that this is an emerging sector and technology make it difficult to estimate ITS costs and benefits with any degree of accuracy. While it is fairly easy to estimate the cost and revenue of a highway or streetcar line, the return on investment of intermodal information or communicating infrastructure system is much more difficult to calculate.

    However, nearly all existing studies in the subject point to the economic and financial benefit of ITS. A simulation carried out in Tucson, Arizona, showed that the deployment of 35 technologies, for a total investment of 72 million dollars, would generate 455 million dollars each year (gains in terms of productivity, mobility, environment and safety). This is a benefit-cost ratio of 6.3 to 1 (source: Information Technology and Innovation Foundation). The US Government Accountability Office estimated that the national implementation of a real-time traffic information program would cost 1.2 billion dollars and would generate 30.2 billion dollars, which is a ratio of 25 to 1.

    Nevertheless, in order to consolidate its growth, this young market needs inter-regional and international cooperation. ITS are more effective over a wide area, connecting a large number of vehicles and infrastructures. When developed on a town scale, an intermodal ticketing system, valid for all modes of transportation, can no doubt provide significant benefits. But these benefits will be even greater if the same ticketing technology is applied to the whole region. Similarly, a vehicle-to-vehicle communication standard would not be very beneficial if it only worked for a few motorists or in an area of a few miles, or if the communication ended once they had left the region or state.

    That is why quite advanced partnership agreements are being developed for ITS. Agreements are being created at all levels, among local and regional authorities, countries, manufacturers, etc. Below are a few examples:

    EasyWay, an ITS deployment project backed by the European Commission and carried out in collaboration with road operators and contracting authorities in each EU country.

    Highly Automated Vehicles for Intelligent Transport (HAVEit), an EU-funded project which brings together universities, research institutes and businesses to develop highly automated, safe vehicles.

    NG Connect Program, an R&D partnership bringing together a hundred or so technology companies, focusing on connected mobility and led by Alcatel Lucent.

    Connected Vehicle Certification Program, a project run by the US Department of Transportation to ensure the safety of standards, technologies, processes and equipment used to connect vehicles.

    Intelligent Transportation Systems Hong Kong, founded by the Hong Kong government, brings together transportation operators and technology companies to improve traffic flow management in the city using interactive technologies.