ITSPAC Subcommittee on Global Harmonization of Standards - Recommendations

June 8, 2011 - Belcher, Drobot, Vondale, et al

Subcommittee Charge

The ITS Program Advisory Subcommittee on Global Harmonization of Standards  (Subcommittee) was formed to gather information, evaluate options and provide recommendations on effective ways to ensure that ITS standards are harmonized globally to promote the efficient and rapid deployment of ITS technologies and to control the cost and complexity of maintaining those standards once they are deployed.  

Subcommittee Deliberations and Findings

The Subcommittee discussed the critical importance of globally harmonized ITS standards and the role they play in a more efficient and faster deployment of ITS technologies.  The Subcommittee discussed the fact that quick action is needed to avoid the development of regionally-based standards that are inconsistent with standards developed in other regions.  It was noted that the U.S. government has reached an agreement with the European Union (EU) and the government of Japan on the need to develop harmonized standards.  It was agreed that a wide range of groups will need to work together to ensure that harmonization occurs, including governments, vehicle manufacturers, other ITS-related industries, trade associations such as ITS America and standards organizations such as ISO, SAE, ETSI, IEEE, ITU, etc. 

Significant work on the development of ITS standards currently is underway and rapidly moving forward.  Absent strong direction and leadership to encourage harmonization, those standards will not be fully harmonized.  Obstacles to globally harmonized ITS standards were identified as competition among certain standards organizations working to develop standards, a European directive (Mandate M\453) that is driving short timing on standards development in Europe that is being used as an excuse by certain vehicle manufacturers and standards organizations not to harmonize, lack of identified forums to develop harmonized standards (similar to WP29 used to harmonize safety standards ), and lack of agreement among vehicle manufacturers concerning the scope and timing of harmonization needs. 

The Subcommittee agreed that not all standards need to be harmonized but an important first step is to identify and prioritize those areas that are critical for harmonization.  It was agreed that it is more important to develop standards that are appropriate, accurate and harmonized than to rush to complete standards to an artificial deadline. The Subcommittee discussed the need to work with other organizations like ITS America, OICA (the global alliance of Automobile Manufacturers), the US Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and others to develop a coalition to promote harmonization.


Recommendation 1

The ITS JPO should make and periodically reinforce a clear public statement that globally harmonized ITS standards are critical to the efficient and rapid deployment of ITS technologies.  Similar statements from the RITA Administrator and the USDOT Secretary would add important emphasis.  The statement should also make clear that the quality of standards and the degree to which they are harmonized is more important than any regionally-imposed or otherwise “artificial” dates for completing them.  While ITS-JPO has in the past made such statements as part its outreach programs, a clear single-purpose statement, and reinforcement from higher levels within USDOT, would be of substantial value.

Discussion:  In order to make a clear public statement, the JPO and other organizations within USDOT should identify harmonization of ITS standards as a critical priority in its written statements about ITS technologies and officially add it to its work plan.

Recommendation 2

The ITS JPO should seek to play a more visible leading role in encouraging the development of globally harmonized standards by adequately funding organizations dedicated to and programs designed to result in harmonized ITS standards, and applying strong political pressure to standards organizations and other stakeholders where appropriate to harmonize such standards.   The JPO should make a commitment to ensure adequate funding in future years, reinforcing its commitment to harmonization.

Discussion:  In order to play a visible, leading role, the JPO should provide adequate funding to appropriate organizations to develop harmonized standards and apply pressure where appropriate.  The appropriate office/department within the US government should be identified to assume leadership of this important issue.  It is also critical that this issue be given adequate senior level political support.  The other regions are invested at the political level and the U.S. government should be as well.

Recommendation 3

The ITS JPO should fund an analysis of the costs and benefits of harmonized and non-harmonized ITS standards.

Discussion:  In order to further support the need for harmonization, the JPO should fund an analysis that demonstrates the harm of non-harmonized standards.  The outcome of such an analysis would be useful for all members of the standardization community worldwide.  However, it is noted that if such analysis is not done quickly its value will be diminished by the pace of standardization activities in many regions.

Recommendation 4

The ITS JPO should assure that the U.S. – EU Harmonization Task Force and any future U.S. – Japan Harmonization Task Force (and any other existing regional collaborations working on harmonized standards) are properly supported by both the U.S. government and industry personnel who are actively engaged in  standards work.  Further, these groups should meet more frequently and for longer periods than they do at present in order to create a workable Harmonization Plan (Plan) early enough that it supports the aggressive timeline planned for creation of harmonized standards.  Further still, the U.S. should work to collapse the various regional Harmonization Task Forces into one global Harmonization Task Force.

Discussion:  At present, the EU and Japanese participants to their respective regional Harmonization Task Forces with the U.S. are populated by a mix of government and industry personnel.  This allows them to address harmonization issues at all levels.  In contrast, official U.S. Task Force members are all U.S. government employees in order to assure compliance with legal requirements.  Representatives from both the EU and Japan have stated that they would strongly prefer a mix of government and industry personnel and that without this mix the discussions are often inhibited in face-to-face meetings.  Recent ITS-JPO action to open task force meetings to additional participants are an appropriate course of action.  In addition, past meetings of the Task Force have been both infrequent and short.  On this present course, the Plan will be completed well after the harmonization timeline has expired.  The pace of Plan development, and therefore the frequency and duration of development meetings, must be accelerated.

Recommendation 5

The ITS JPO should work together with industry and others to develop a list of key Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I), (V2V and V2I are collectively referred to as “V2x”) standards that should be prioritized for harmonization.  Some work in this area has been done regionally but the regional data has not been aggregated and synchronized to create a global list.  This final prioritized list should then be shared with governments in Europe and Japan to obtain their buy-in and support.  The progress of these standards can then be tracked through the various standards organizations and pressure applied to ensure that they are being developed in a harmonized fashion.  Since V2x will encompass a broad range of standards, the ITS JPO should work together with industry and others to promote expanded standardization of ITS standards so that a clear message is sent to standards organizations about the critical importance of harmonization.

Discussion:  Presently, a variety of international and regional standards organizations are developing ITS standards that will impact the ability to efficiently and effectively implement V2x.  Absent strong leadership and commitment, these standards will be developed regionally and will result in inefficiencies and costly duplication of efforts, delaying deployment of V2x.  The U.S. government should play a key role in supporting the identification and prioritization of key standards and support harmonization of those standards.  The U.S. government also should work with Europe and Japan is this effort.  While support for key V2x standards is critical to the success of the V2x program, support for the broader range of ITS standards is also critical considering the breadth of V2x and the need to send a clear message to standards organizations that they need to work together to develop harmonized ITS standards.