Trilateral Probe Data

Probe Data Collaborative Research

Probe data offers the potential to develop transformative applications that can improve roadway operations, planning, and maintenance, and keep travelers informed of travel conditions. The private sector has already made significant strides in the capture and use of probe data. The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the Road Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan (MLIT) aim to advance the public sector in deploying cooperative systems and in capturing, managing, and using probe data in the management of transportation systems. As part of the probe data collaborative research effort, a U.S.-Japan Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) Task Force has:

  • Jointly developed a high-level definition of probe data to help define the scope of the project and to identify technologies and systems that deliver these data
  • Shared data and research findings, experiences, and lessons learned from development and deployment of probe-data-enabled applications and probe data systems
  • Jointly identified applications that may be developed using probe data as defined by the U.S.-Japan ITS Task Force.

Probe Data Definition

This effort defines probe data as data generated by vehicles about their current position, motion, and time stamp. Probe data also includes additional data elements provided by vehicles that have added intelligence to detect traction information, brake status, hard braking, flat tire, activation of emergency lights, anti-lock brake status, air bag deployment status, windshield wiper status, etc. Vehicle probe data may be generated by devices integrated with the vehicles’ computers or nomadic devices brought into the vehicles. This effort focuses only on applications that can be developed using public sector probe data as defined above.

Comparison Of Probe Data

The U.S.-Japan ITS Task Force summarized and compared probe data and probe data systems in both the United States and Japan against a common set of characteristics. A strong private sector role in probe data exists in both countries, and the task force included private sector probe data and probe data systems in the comparison. This effort focuses on public sector generation of probe data, centered primarily around the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) J2735 data in the United States and the ITS SPOT data in Japan. The SAE J2735 Basic Safety Message (BSM) and Probe Data Message are the focus of much of the connected vehicle research in the United States. The ITS SPOT system deployed in Japan has an estimated 1,600 roadside units to date.

Probe Data Findings

Findings from the probe data comparison include:

  • Quality Assurance: A consistent definition of what constitutes accurate or consistent probe data needs to be established and adopted by public and private sector data providers. In addition, quality assurance processes need to be established.
  • Privacy: A consistent approach to anonymizing probe data needs to be established and adopted by public and private sector data providers.
  • Metadata: One or more metadata standards for probe and supporting data need to be established and adopted by public and private sector data providers to increase data usability.
  • Storage and Access: Decentralized storage and selective federation are emerging data management practices to improve quality management and data integration without full centralization.
  • Data Ownership and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR): Clear guidelines need to be established for identifying data ownership and licensing, including IPR, of probe data, supporting data, and processing tools.

Probe-Data-Enabled Applications

The U.S.-Japan ITS Task Force identified 19 probe-data-enabled applications that were classified as high priority in either the United States or Japan. The task force narrowed this list using prioritization criteria such as near-term deployment readiness, public sector application, expressway/freeway application relevance, and promotion of international standards harmonization.

The task force sought individual prioritizations from internal stakeholders within the USDOT and MLIT to further down select the applications. The task force then jointly selected the following three applications for further collaborative research:

  • Traffic Management Measures Estimation Application
  • Dynamic Speed Harmonization Application
  • Enhanced Maintenance Decision Support System Application
    (Enhanced MDSS).

Recommended Next Steps

The planned next steps for future collaboration on probe data include:

  • Expand probe data collaboration from a bi-lateral to a trilateral effort with the European Union as the new partner
  • Conduct research on the three high-priority applications identified jointly by the United States and Japan
  • Identify and prioritize research gaps for future collaboration
  • Address and refine non-technical issues related to probe data such as security, standards, policy, privacy, and data ownership.

For more information about this initiative, please contact:

Kevin Gay
Chief, Policy, Architecture, & Knowledge Transfer
ITS Joint Program Office
(202) 493-0259

Hideyuki Kanoshima
Senior Researcher, Intelligent Transport System Division
National Institute for Land and Infrastructure Management,
Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism

Wolfgang Hoefs
Head of Sector “Strategic Planning and Communication”
European Commission
Directorate-General for Communication Networks, Content and Technology | Smart Cities and Sustainability
+32 2 29 56877