Plan maps out smart transportation

Intelligent Transportation Society of America

The Intelligent Transportation Society of America unveiled its vision for the future of transportation Jan. 14 during the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board.

The plan, "National Intelligent Transportation Systems Program Plan: A Ten-Year Vision," calls for further development and deployment of technologies that make commuting easier.

Its goals include improving the mobility, safety and security of the transportation system; saving $20 billion a year through the efficient movement of people and goods; and reducing emissions by cutting fuel consumption.

"It's a framework for an industry," said Jeffrey Paniati, program manager for the Transportation Department's ITS Joint Program Office. "DOT is going to take it and look at it internally."

ITS America, a public/private venture that acts as an advisory committee to DOT, organized the document into themes that include:

* An integrated network of transportation information.

* Advanced crash avoidance technologies.

* Automatic crash and incident detection, notification and response.

* Advanced transportation management.

The plan is meant to serve as an impetus for major public and private initiatives, ultimately leading to the creation of a system of seamless, end-to-end travel for passengers.

Representatives from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the American Public Transportation Association hailed the document as a huge step forward for ITS. Others attending the meeting criticized the lack of exposure ITS has received in the public domain.

In the past, the ITS movement also has taken flak for progressing too slowly despite its multibillion-dollar federal budget.

But Paniati said some ITS products — adaptive cruise control, in-vehicle navigational devices and sensors on cars — are already on the market.

And on the infrastructure side, cameras, detectors and surveillance systems have been installed to collect data on traffic flow, he said, adding that about four jurisdictions have implemented a 511 service, a number to call for traffic information.

"The way we did things before is going to go away, and consumers are going to demand the new technology," said Robert DeNaro, a senior vice president for Rand McNally & Co.

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