ERTICO interviews John Miles Director of Ankerbold International Ltd and immediate past Chair of the PIARC Technical Committee on Road Network Operations.

ERTICO – ITS Europe: What are the most important steps for implementing ITS in the context of the EU’s ITS Action Plan?

John Miles: The European ITS Action Plan is ambitious in its vision to achieve a roll-out of common ITS services across Europe. Initiatives at the European level are proposed in six areas:

  • Optimal use of road and traffic data
  • Traffic and freight management
  • Road safety and security
  • Integrating ITS applications in the vehicle
  • Data protection and liability
  • European ITS co-ordination

It will need a potent combination of political and technical leadership to convert these plans into reality. ERTICO partners will play a very important role in this. However I am concerned that the arguments over whether there should be a European framework directive on ITS have held things up. A directive to the Member States would put some real impetus to the rapid deployment of pan-European ITS services but there is a caveat. Any measures that are mandated must be at the right level and address the real issues without entering into too much detail. Measures under the directive must also be realistic in terms of timescales.
The European Parliament was quick to recognise the importance of the ITS Action Plan but the Council of Ministers for the EU Member States has been much more cautious especially over whether or not there should be a directive. We are still waiting to see the result of discussions on details. ERTICO partners would do well to counter this ambivalence with a campaign to highlight the reasons why a coordinated Europe-wide approach to ITS is so badly needed. ERTICO also needs to work at demonstrating to politicians decision-makers and the media the important community benefits that ITS can deliver as a means of supporting transport policy objectives: safety the environment economic performance and the quality of life etc.

ERTICO – ITS Europe: From 2004 to 2008 you were the chair of a Technical Committee for PIARC. What exactly is PIARC?

John Miles: PIARC is known increasingly by its new name the World Road Association. It was established over a century ago in 1909 to act as a permanent international forum on the design construction and maintenance of roads and the management of traffic. PIARC brings together the road administrations of 117 governments and has members — individuals companies authorities and organizations — in over 140 countries. The PIARC mission is to exchange knowledge and techniques on roads and road transportation amongst transportation professionals world-wide. PIARC does so in a number of different ways:

  • organising international forums – in recent years we have arranged major international conferences on ITS in Chile Malaysia and South Africa targeted first and foremost at roads operators;
  • disseminating best practices through the publication of reports prepared by our Technical Committees covering all aspects of roads and road transport;
  • promoting efficient tools for decision making with the transportation profession;
  • special emphasis on the needs of developing countries and countries with economies in transition.

ERTICO – ITS Europe: Can you describe PIARC’s current activities in support of ITS?

John Miles: PIARC has been working on ITS for almost as long as ERTICO has been in existence! The PIARC Handbook on Intelligent Transport Systems was first published in 1999 and is now in its second revised edition. It is already published in three languages – English French and Chinese – with a fourth Spanish in preparation. The US Department of Transportation is in the process of awarding a contract to develop an on-line version in English and French and we plan to add Spanish when the translation is complete. This will be integrated with the PIARC knowledge centre on road network operations which can be accessed by anyone over the Internet.

Our Technical Committee on Road Network Operations (now chaired by Martial Chevreuil from ERTICO partner Egis) is tasked with considering how road networks can be managed and operated to make best use of the available road space. Through the work of this committee PIARC and the International Federation of Automotive Engineering Societies (FISITA) have established a Joint Task Force. This is an international forum for dialogue between road administrations and the automotive industries to study and make recommendations on how to maximise the opportunities presented by the “connected vehicle” and so move forward with deployment of intelligent cooperative systems. The Task Force will be running a workshop as part of the FISITA World Congress in Budapest at the end of May this year and will present its findings to the PIARC World Roads Congress in Mexico in September 2011.

ERTICO – ITS Europe: What is your view on the successful implementation of ITS in Europe?

John Miles: Until January this year the Director at the European Commission responsible for progressing the ITS Action Plan was Fotis Karamitsos. He is well known in the ITS World having taken a pioneering role in the development of ITS at the European level spanning two decades. Fotis has been pivotal in steering the ITS Action Plan and the planned European ITS directive through to the point where serious work can begin on a strategy for rolling out common services across Europe. The challenge now is to build on this foundation. A successful implementation will involve many different parties working together within an agreed framework of activities defined with European harmonisation in mind. Some of the main stakeholder groups (ASECAP CEDR POLIS ERTICO TISA and ACEA) were on the platform at the EasyWay annual forum in Vienna last November.  Cooperation between these groups would be a good starting point. The need to cooperate to reach a consensus on ITS also applies to the Commission’s own services where five different Directorates-General have an interest:

One effect of the ITS Action has been to draw these Directorates-General closer together.
ERTICO – ITS Europe: If you had one wish to the European Commission concerning its work on ITS what would it be?

I want to see the European Commission put in place measures that will enable the consortium of partners in the EasyWay project to achieve their potential as an effective agency for deploying Europe-wide ITS services. EasyWay is an example of a good idea not quite delivering. It needs top level commitment from the Member States rather than the “engineering department” focus that currently exists. My wish is for the EC to convene a governing body for EasyWay that can give endorsement to a well-thought-through strategy for deploying ITS-based services on the Trans-European Road Network supported by an ITS infrastructure that can allow those services to extend seamlessly into the urban conurbations. The governing body must be composed of people with the authority to negotiate the strategy and then make the commitment to adopt it. Most likely this means a strategy board composed of Member State nominees. I envision this body working under the guidance of an independent chairman appointed by the Commission and supported by a Strategy Unit that will undertake consultations with stakeholders and resourced to develop the guidelines and functional specifications that will underpin the strategy. I believe this will go a long way to give the political and technical credibility that EasyWay needs to succeed as a programme for delivery of ITS.

Biographical details

Dr John Miles is a former UK civil servant who held positions with a number of public bodies including the UK Department for Transport the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution and the European Commission. In 1996 after more than 25 years in public service he established Ankerbold as a successful transport research and management consultancy advising on the strategic themes surrounding the deployment of Intelligent Transport Systems in the UK and Europe. From 2004-2008 he served as chair of the World Road Association (PIARC) Technical Committee on Management of Road Network Operations. John Miles now advises policy-makers and senior management in the public sector on the organisational framework for Intelligent Transport Systems. He continues to support the World Road Association as lead editor for the PIARC Handbook on Intelligent Transport Systems.

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Original Publication Date: Sat 24 Jul 2010