Intelligent Transport Systems

What are Intelligent Transport Systems? 

Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) use modern technologies to improve transport networks.

Rapid advances in computing and mobile communications triggered a boom in the development of such systems and a reduction in the cost of owning smart/connected devices has made them available to many millions of day-to-day users.

Online travel planners, in-car navigation systems, digital travel cards, and automatic road tolling systems – these are all types of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS).

In fact, almost any combination of technology and transport can be considered to be ‘intelligent’ and the possible uses of ITS are almost limitless.

To simplify things, we group the systems into three broad sub-categories:

Safe ITS

As the name suggests, Safe ITS focuses on safety and the reduction of transport related accidents and injuries.

According to EU figures, in 2011 more than 30,000 people died on the roads of the European Union. That is the equivalent of a medium town, and for every death on Europe’s roads there are an estimated 4 permanently disabling injuries such as damage to the brain or spinal cord, 8 serious injuries and 50 minor injuries.

The good news is, this figure has plummeted from 54,000 in 2001, and ITS experts are working hard to reduce the number even more.

Smart ITS

Smart ITS is by far the largest and most diverse group of systems. This group includes a wide range of traveller information systems, navigation systems, vehicle and driver-monitoring/insurance systems (telematics) and thousands of other systems that use data to make ‘smarter’ transport-related decisions. Most transport ‘apps’ which are available on modern smartphones fall into this category. Smart ITS offers huge economic benefits as transport operators and users can make better informed decisions, to reduce travel and transport times, costs and delays.

Clean ITS

Clean ITS, sometimes called ‘eco’ or ‘green’ ITS, uses technology to reduce the environmental impact of travel and transport. Often combining ‘Smart ITS’ technologies, Clean ITS helps to reduce emissions and fuel consumption, and seeks to develop new, environmentally sustainable transport solutions. According to a 2010 report by the International Transport Forum, Transport-sector CO2 emissions represent 23% (globally) and 30% (OECD) of overall CO2 emissions from Fossil fuel combustion The sector accounts for approximately 15% of overall greenhouse gas emissions. Global CO2 emissions from transport have grown by 45% from 1990 to 2007, led by emissions from the road sector in terms of volume and by shipping and aviation in terms of highest growth rates. Therefore, the scope for Clean ITS to help reduce emissions and minimise the environmental impact of transport is vast, especially in an age of ever-increasing individual mobility.

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