ITSPAC Technology Strategy Subcommittee

Technology Strategy Subcommittee Charge

The Technology Strategy subcommittee will explore how the underlying technologies of sensors, computers, communications and systems management may accelerate the effectiveness of ITS and deliver national benefits in safety, mobility, energy and the environment.  The subcommittee’s recommendations may address the following issues:

  • A systems based approach dealing with the complexity of a national multi-purpose future ITS infrastructure;
  • Incentivizing and ITS framework which harnesses the creativity of the broad stakeholder community; and
  • Envisaging a robust ITS architecture which will lower the barriers to experimentation in multi-modal applications.

The subcommittee will give specific consideration to connected vehicle systems and applications to maximize the effectiveness of the V2V and V2I communications platform currently under development. The subcommittee may provide advice about technology considerations for future connected vehicle program research. These recommendations may touch on issues such as, but not limited to:

  • Engaging the auto industry, the developer community, and others to develop innovative applications based on the connected vehicle communications platform;
  • Adapting the technology for a variety of multi modal uses; and.
  • Achieving adoption of the technology by vehicle manufacturers, state and local DOT’s, transit agencies, and other stakeholders.

Subcommittee deliberations and findings

The subcommittee’s discussions have focused on two areas: promoting a broad view of the intelligent transportation initiative, including communications technologies, and on a meaningful agenda for a possible White House summit to advance ITS.

ITS Initiative.  ITS should fundamentally be multi-modal in its application, and focus on where technology can produce measurable benefits to safety, mobility and the environment.  A broad view requires looking not only at communications technology, but also computing, storage, sensors, interfaces, function-specific applications, and software.

We had much discussion on concerns about whether or not the broad developer community will endorse and embrace the platform being implemented by the Government so that there is a vibrant, thriving evolution of value-added services for the traveler, whether in a daily commute or occasional vacation, and whether traveling by personal automobile, public transportation or pedestrian.  Of equal importance is the benefit to commercial transportation operations.  The subcommittee viewed this developer community adoption as crucial to success for ITS.

Key to such broad community adoption will be the architecture of the system.  An architecture is needed that is robust over a long period while the constituent technologies evolve at an ever increasing pace.  This requires appropriate standards and long lived APIs that can adopt to future physical systems while lowering the hurdle cost for experimentation by developers and entrepreneurs.

The subject of communications in the ITS infrastructure is a controversial subject.  DSRC was selected early-on as the technology of choice for V2V and V2I.  Recently the DOT has broadened its approach to DSRC for critical safety low latency communications applications, such as V2V intersection collision avoidance, but open to other public communications networks for other ITS services within the umbrella of the overall ITS offering.  Now there is even some question whether the relatively short range and dedicated DSRC is the right choice for critical functions, or whether the newly emerging Long Term Evolution (LTE) Advanced architecture, so-called “3.9G” cellular, may provide the low latency communications required while also having much broader market adoption and additional, useful features.  Walt Fehr, in his presentation at our Ypsilanti meeting, probably best described this challenge when he stated that the Government’s system needs to be completely physical system agnostic.

This leads to the other key to broad community adoption, the proper and ideal role of the Federal Government in ITS.  Walt’s discussion focused on the transportation needs that might not be met by any particular public network, such as security and authentication, and therefore a potential unique role of the Federal Government.  The architecture should be a logical system and not a physical one, and if there are peculiar needs such as protecting against cyber attacks of the vehicle or managing the creation of potentially driver-distracting applications, then the Government should provide this overlay.  In addition, standards and incentives are necessary to ensure a maximum size market that is blind to state boundaries and incentivizes deployment in less populated rural areas in addition to the normal market incentives in more populated areas.

Finally, any ITS solution must include accommodation of non-automotive OEM features, such as aftermarket devices and smart phone applications that may attract high interest from developers and be strongly adopted by users.  These devices can be further strengthened by provision of vehicle data to owners so that their solutions and applications can be tailored to their vehicles and driving habits.  And driver distraction must be prevented for any in-vehicle solution.

The subcommittee noted that a major challenge is the divide between the Federal DOT research role, and the state and local implementation and deployment role.  That gap is wide, and it is not clear how to bridge that gap such that an accelerated deployment of ITS can happen.  It may come down to “business models”.  For the private sector, the goal is to enter a growing and profitable market sector with attractive scale.  For the Government, it may take Federal Government incentives and legislation to create action at the state levels.  And of course these “business models” intersect as we endeavor to have a motivated private sector investing in solutions that ultimately deliver safety, mobility and environmental benefits, all within some level of standards and protection on behalf of the consumer.

White House ITS CTO Summit – Aneesh Chopra.  The committee debated and drafted the White House Summit agenda, the current version of which follows.

“Accelerating ITS deployment in the US for near term advances in highway safety, mobility, energy and environmental performance.”

Meeting Goals

  • Evaluate and close the gap between government ITS research and the innovation efforts of private sector players (major industries and entrepreneurs);
  • Leverage the best communication and other technologies from within and outside the transportation sector; and
  • Accelerate the deployment of beneficial ITS by the transportation sector, public and private, across all modes.

Meeting Format

  • Convene key executives from the ITS, automotive, telecommunications and IT industries, transportation entrepreneurs and leaders from federal and state DOTs and MPOs;
  • Day-long meeting with invited keynote presentations,  in each area followed by discussion and goal-setting. 
  • Establishment of follow-up actions and owners. 
  • Size of meeting kept to workable number of attendees (~15 – 30).  Consider facilitator.

Participant Categories

Desired outcomes

  • Universal commitment and buy-in to acceleration of ITS deployment;
  • Ensuring that government ITS initiatives in technology R&D will encourage and facilitate innovation and ITS deployment by private industry, and will encompass technology developed by aftermarket suppliers as well as Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs); and
  • Identification of barriers to deployment and ways that legislators may act to accelerate ITS deployment for safety, mobility, energy and the environment.

Key issues to be discussed

  • Alignment and synergy between Government research and development and initiatives in the private automotive and telecommunications industries;
  • Bridging Federal Government research and development activities to adoption and deployment by State and local agencies;
  • Identifying barriers and potential solutions to accelerating deployment of ITS, V2X and other key technologies to achieve target results earlier;
  • Development of an open communication platform for vehicles (private, freight and transit) which will attract entrepreneurs and lead to innovation for safety, mobility, energy and the environment; and
  • The creation of a value chain for transportation data extending across modes and addressing data ownership, security and brokerage.


The discussion and deliberations above need to be distilled into recommendations, which the subcommittee has not yet accomplished.