EU eyes faster deployment of ‘intelligent transport’

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The European Commission has proposed the adoption of a new EU directive to speed up deployment of ICT solutions in road transport in a bid to develop cleaner, safer and more efficient European transport systems.

The EU executive adopted an action plan and a proposal for a Directive on the deployment of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) in road transport on 16 December.

The action plan, covering the period 2009-2014, “will provide much-needed policy instruments to complement the work that the Intelligent Car initiative and the eSafety forum have been doing to make cars safer, cleaner and smarter,” said Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding. 

The proposed measures are not only expected to help curb road fatalities and reduce congestion and related economic losses, but also to cut greenhouse gas emissions. 

Meanwhile, the draft directive sets out a common framework for the implementation of the proposed measures. “A legislative proposal is needed to promote actions that will remove persistent bottlenecks and will enable a broader and coordinated uptake of ITS for road,” stated the EU executive. 

Interoperability was specifically identified as one of the primary objectives of the Commission’s initiative, which aims to: 

  • Optimise use of road, traffic and travel data (e.g. EU-wide real-time traffic and travel information); 
  • ensure fluent traffic and freight management and continuity of ITS services (e.g. eFreight); 
  • improve road safety and security (e.g. via the in-vehicle emergency call system ‘eCall’); 
  • integrate vehicles into the transport system (e.g. via open in-vehicle platform architecture for the provision of ITS services), and; 
  • improve data security and protection as well as liability issues. 

The European geostationary navigation overlay service (EGNOS), which is already operational, and the European satellite navigation system Galileo, which will come into being in 2013, are set to play a key role in the future deployment of ITS in Europe. In particular, Galileo’s accuracy (up to 10 cm) will enable the development of a whole range of new applications, the Commission hopes. 

Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) involve applying information and communication technologies, such as computers, electronics, satellites and sensors, to all modes of transport (road, rail, air and water), both passenger and freight.

Examples of such services include GPS navigation systems, traffic information and journey-time estimations received from car radios while on motorways, as well as real-time arrival information in bus stations.

The European Commission's July 2008 Communication on greening transport had previously announced that an action plan and legislative proposal on ITS for road would be drawn up in view of developing such services and speeding up their market deployment.

  • 2009-2014: The action plan sets out a series of measures and target dates for their implementation. 
  • 2012/13: A mid-term review of the action plan will take place.

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