What does it take to deploy ITS solutions on European roads? Safety is a key requirement for successful rollout, alongside the right policy frameworks and new thinking, particularly in data collection and application. With the 14th ITS European Congress about to kick off in Toulouse, these themes were explored in the fifth and final webinar in the run-up to the event.

‘How we get technologies and innovation to the market quickly and safely features prominently at the Congress, including the plenary ‘Manoeuvring around obstacles on the road to deployment’ and many special interest sessions,‘ says Lisa Boch-Andersen, ERTICO’s Director of Communications, Congresses and Events.

Running from 30 May to 1 June at the MEETT Exhibition and Conference Centre, the 2022 Congress is set to welcome up to 3,000 people who will experience presentations, exhibitors, demonstrations and technical visits that showcase the entire ITS ecosystem.

Driving data: our ally in road safety

Safety is a top priority at all times but even more so when deploying solutions. As in so many areas, data can provide the key, helping reduce the 1.3 million annual deaths worldwide caused by road traffic accidents. ‘We have unique expertise in using driving behaviour data to help prevent crashes,’ says Guillaume Puiseux, Strategy & Marketing Director of Michelin DDi, a Thematic Partner at the Congress. ‘This is about unlocking the potential of driving behaviour data to help optimise traffic infrastructure and deliver safer roads.’

With more than a billion kilometres analysed and tens of thousands of connected vehicles in Europe and the USA, Michelin DDI collects and combines different data types (e.g. GPS, driving events, speed) and then carries out advanced contextualisation (road, weather, time) to transform data into actionable insights. These feed into preventative road safety plans. Guillaume says authorities can benefit from the simplest digital safety diagnostics, such as identifying and ranking near-miss hotspots to plan corrective action.

Innovating to deploy

‘Start-ups play an important role in getting smart mobility running live on Europe’s roads, moving forward technology readiness levels,’ says Frank Daems, Senior Manager Innovation & Deployment, ERTICO-ITS Europe. The 2022 Congress has a dedicated Start-up Hub and a full programme of activities, with 43 start-ups attending from 18 countries.

Austria’s IoT Baseplate is an excellent example of a successful start-up. Founded in 2021, the multi-award-winning company provides onsite data intelligence for road traffic use. High-quality data is essential for digitising transport, but such data is often insufficient or non-existent, especially for temporary events like roadworks. This gap often results in unnecessary congestion and accidents. IoT Baseplate’s solution is simple but ingenious: retrofitting the standard road K1 TL baseplate, turning it into an integrated hardware and software IoT solution to detect, analyse and communicate traffic data. ‘It’s robust, self-sufficient and extremely versatile,” says Markus Dorn, CTO of co-founder. Traffic events are transformed “from an often poorly networked and analogue infrastructure into a valuable enabler for mobility megatrends.’

A six-month pilot in Graz, Austria’s second-largest city, is evaluating issues such as time and cost savings, simplicity of set-up, and behaviour of the system in day-to-day life. The next steps are to synchronise planned versus actual traffic events and eventually create an ITS National Event Database.

‘Making roads smarter and safer’

Operating in a similar space but focused on tracking and understanding road infrastructure, Spanish start-up ASIMOB has deployed an autonomous AI-based road inspection system in Cunit, a beach town 30km from Barcelona. During holidays and weekends, Cunit’s population can increase by five times, placing huge pressure on road infrastructure, which has to be maintained effectively. Data gathering and analysis provide greater visibility, improved planning, and opportunities to prioritise activity, enabling a cost reduction in maintenance.

The solution has three elements: software onboard four police vehicles; cloud-based software for artificial vision and data analysis to detect and classify issues: and a web interface for the managers responsible for infrastructure. ‘We deployed in only three months, monitoring vertical signage, lane markings and pavement irregularities, with a reliability rate of 97% in a single pass,’ says Ibon Arechalde, CEO and co-founder, ASIMOB. The resulting ‘heat maps’ mean Cunit can see and understand areas with the greatest need and where budget and resources may be directed. This project received funding from EIT Urban Mobility, an initiative of the EU’s European Institute of Innovation and Technology.

Driving deployment: the Commission perspective

More than a decade after it was adopted, what lessons have been learned under the ITS Directive in terms of moving from pilots into deployment? ‘While ITS is a relatively young domain, it’s come a long way in a short time,’ says Edoardo Felici, Policy Officer, European Commission DG MOVE. Providing a legal framework to deploy ITS, the directive’s goal was to enable people to be better informed and make safer, more coordinated and smarter use of transport networks. Efforts have continued to evolve. Today that includes updating the directive to reflect developments such as Mobility as a Service (MaaS) and Connected, Cooperative & Automated Mobility (CCAM), and creating a European Mobility Data Space.

While challenges remain, Edoardo says we have seen many important achievements under the directive. These include a more holistic approach that connects policy & governance with infrastructure, vehicles & energy sources and technology to deliver close-to-market-ready solutions. Examples of Horizon 2020 projects moving the ITS narrative forward include: MOVE21 to transform cities and their surroundings into smart zero emission nodes for mobility and logistics; the SCALE-UP project with 23 partners implementing 28 measures for improved mobility in European cities and regions; and the INDIMO co-creation community of user representatives, policymakers, operators and decision-makers working to deliver more inclusive digital mobility solutions.

Bringing it all together

‘These are exciting times for the ITS community as we increasingly move to a deployment stance, something you can experience for yourself at the European Congress,’ says ERTICO’s Lisa Boch-Andersen. ‘ERTICO is unique in our ability to connect the dots between all the different vertical players in the ITS ecosystem, across the public and private sectors, and our sister organisations in Asia-Pacific and North America. This integrated approach, bringing people together, is at the heart of what we do.’

Register now for the 2022 ITS European Congress

The Congress app is now available to plan your schedule in advance – registered attendees are able to book online for demonstrations and technical visits.

Watch the full recording of the fifth and final webinar here.