For years the EU has funded work on ITS research and showcase projects. Why now an ITS Action Plan?
Fotis Karamitsos: The ITS community has spent billions of Euros on ITS research. As a result many applications and services are now ready to be deployed but market introduction is not as rapid as we would like to see it. There is an urgent need to speed up the deployment of interoperable ITS across Europe in a well coordinated manner. The existing differences in road infrastructure development and ITS deployment in the Member States should be taken into account. In order to create the necessary momentum we have limited the Action Plan to a number of concrete realistic Actions and have allocated a clear timeframe for implementation to each Action.

Wouldn’t it be better if each region or city could find the solution that best fits their needs?
Currently we have a patchwork of national regional and local solutions. As a result the potential of ITS remains largely untapped for example when it comes to intermodal transport. ITS could give a real push to intermodal transport but this only works if we achieve a similar level of market penetration in all Member States and a higher level of interoperability of ITS applications and services. In order to get to higher levels of market penetration however we have to look at return on investment.  Companies will not invest in ITS if they do not see a return. Benefits and return on investment are highly dependent on the scale of deployment. So the conclusion is: with a coordinated approach towards ITS deployment we can help companies to benefit from economies of scale. In turn both the private and the business customer will benefit from lower prices and devices that will be compatible across Europe.

The European Commission has published a Directive proposal together with the ITS Action Plan. What is the added value of this proposal?
The Directive proposal lays down a framework for the implementation of the Action Plan. We want a cooperative approach to the implementation of future ITS technologies between politics and other stakeholders. Not only must the Member States do their bit but we also need input from transport users transport operators industry and social partners. The task of the European ITS Committee will be to ensure the efficient deployment of ITS in Europe whereas the Industry Advisory Group advises the Commission on stakeholder interests and on business and technical aspects. This legal framework will ensure a quick and efficient establishment of specifications which can keep up with the speed and complexity of development in the ITS field.

What will be the effect of the ITS Action Plan on road safety?
Area 3 of the Action Plan deals with Road Safety and Security. Interoperable systems and continuity of ITS solutions within countries and across borders will increase transport efficiency and as such lead to a safer road traffic environment. ITS-based road safety applications such as driver assistance systems and specific measures targeting a safer human-machine-interaction will save lives and prevent injuries. The introduction of Europe-wide eCall will be key to reducing road fatalities. Complementary measures foreseen in the Action Plan such as the best-practice guidelines on the impact of ITS on vulnerable road users will also make Europe’s roads safer.

Link to original Article

Original Publication Date: Sat 24 Jul 2010