ANSI - American National Standards Institute
 Print this article  Previous Next 

Working Together to Build "Smart Highways"

SDOs Collaborate to Develop Intelligent Transportation Technology Standards

New York, Sep 13, 2002

The average driver spends approximately 34 hours a year stuck in traffic - not including the time it takes getting from one place to another at the legal speed limit. Today, thanks to the coordinated efforts of several American National Standards Institute (ANSI) members and ANSI-accredited standards developers, other industry groups and agencies of both the federal and state government, crawling along due to traffic jams and congestion is on its way to becoming a thing of the past.

The solution, sometimes referred to as "smart highways," is not about building new highways in the traditional sense but developing a series of technological gadgets connected into an information and telecommunications infrastructure aimed at cutting travel time and saving lives. U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) experts predict that spending $10 billion on intelligent transportation [system] (ITS) technology such as traffic surveillance, signal control systems and electronic toll collection would give the country two-thirds of the capacity that $150 billion in new roads would provide. More importantly, safety measures such as ramp metering have already reduced crashes by nearly 50 percent while handling 22 percent more traffic.

Collaboration on ITS activities began in 1996 as the Intelligent Transportation Systems National Architecture was completed and the Model Deployment Initiative (MDI) program for intelligent transportation technology was launched. Though a number of SDOs had an interest in the development of the standards in this new area, the technology was sufficiently diverse that no one SDO had the breadth of existing technical expertise to develop all the standards needed. The Council of Standards Organizations (CSO), which was organized under the Intelligent Transportation Society of America's Committee on Standards and Protocols, brought together members from ITS-related standards developing organizations (SDOs), staff of ITS America (ITSA) and DOT officials.

The purpose of the CSO is to make recommendations to ITS Joint Program Office (JPO) of DOT ITS and the Federal Highway Administration of DOT regarding the standards program. They must also create resolutions for overlapping areas or boundaries between SDOs, identify gaps in standards development, and pinpoint standards needs based on new user services added to the ITS National Architecture. The group continues to provide a forum to address issues of common interest or concern for diverse ITS standards activities and assists in the coordination of their development. CSO membership is limited to SDOs only, and is not open to private sector members.

Recognizing that voluntary standards serve U.S. interests well because government, consumers, and industry work together to create them, the DOT awarded $16 million to five SDOs to accelerate the standards development process in 1996. These organizations included the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and ASTM International (formerly known as the American Society of Testing and Materials).

To further springboard the ITS standards development program, the CSO helps to identify particular ITS standards as high, medium, and low priority. ITS America has been tasked to serve as a clearinghouse to gather information about SDO activities and as a forum for SDO discussions; the organization also heads up U.S. input to the International Organization for Standardization Technical Committee - Transport information and control systems (ISO/TC 204) by serving as the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) Administrator and the ISO/TC 204 Secretariat.

At present, completion schedules for necessary standards have been established and the CSO has been monitoring the progress. According to a report presented by Neil Schuster, president of ITSA and Max E. Rumbaugh, Jr., executive vice-president emeritus of SAE at the recent meeting of the Council of Engineering Society Executives, the development process has been successful. The report showed that a majority of standards were developed within reasonable time expectations. Fifty-six standards [have been published and] are now available for purchase, four have been approved, ten are in ballot and twenty-one are in development.

Additionally, Rumbaugh and Schuster added that in order to meet the future standards needs for new technologies, it is the responsibility of the standards development community to reinvent itself, including such innovative ideas as collaborations by multiple SDOs. They concluded that this unique experiment in collaboration by SDOs in the development of complex new technologies was and is a success. They encouraged the standards development community to further experiment in collaborations as a means to meet industry needs in appropriate situations such as ITS.

Although ITS has a long way to go before it becomes a part of the lives of drivers in every city and town, standards development of this new sector is moving along quickly to coincide with new technology.

Standards Portal