What is an intelligent transportation system (ITS)?

An intelligent transportation system (ITS) is a technology, application or platform, that improves the quality of transportation or achieves other outcomes based on applications that monitor, manage or enhance transportation systems. Technopedia

Intelligent Transportation System relies heavily on data collection and it’s analysis. Once the system is built to collect data and analyse it, the results are then used control, manage and plan transportation. Sensors play an important role in data collection.

Applications of the intelligent transportation system (ITS)

City roads are succumbing to the pressure of a growing urban population. One of the main application of an intelligent transportation system is smart traffic management. Some of the other applications are:

  1. Real-time parking management
  2. Electronic toll collection
  3. Emergency vehicle notification systems
  4. Automated road speed enforcement
  5. Speed alerts
  6. RFID in freight transportation
  7. Variable speed limits
  8. Dynamic traffic light sequence
  9. Collision avoidance systems

How does an intelligent transportation system (ITS) work?


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Data collection
Hardware: sensors, cameras, GPS
Data type: traffic count, surveillance, speed and time, location, vehicle weight, delays etc

Data Transmission
Rapid and real-time data transmission between the road and Traffic Management Center

Data Analysis
Error rectification, data cleaning, data synthesis and adaptive logical analysis

Data Transmission
Rapid and real-time data transmission between the Traffic Management Center and the traveller

Intelligent Information
Real-time information like travel time, travel speed, delay, accidents on roads, change in route, diversions, work zone conditions etc.
delivered by a wide range of electronic devices like variable message signs, highway advisory radio, internet, SMS, automated cell.

Examples of the intelligent transportation system (ITS)

  • In the city of Glasgow, Scotland, Intelligent Transport System gives regular information to the daily commuters about public buses, timings, seat availability, the current location of the bus, the time taken to reach a particular destination, next location of the bus and the density of passengers inside the bus.
  • The Seoul government has designed the routes of its new night bus services based on an analysis of night-time mobile phone location data. The city worked with private telecoms companies to analyse calls made between midnight and 5 am, and matched this data, anonymously and in aggregate, with billing addresses to determine which routes would experience greater demand for overnight services.
  • The city of New Orleans has optimised the locations of its ambulances on standby, based on patterns of emergency calls.
  • The highly anticipated Sydney Metro, Australia’s biggest public transport project, will feature a driverless mass-transit system that is anticipated to nearly double the city’s existing transit capacity. Operations of the 36-km Northwest line are expected to start in 2019.
  • The Cityringen project in Copenhagen is a very ambitious project. The Cityringen is a driverless metro that will form a new circular line in the centre of the city and consists of two parallel tunnels some 15.5 km long and 17 underground stations, situated an average of 30 metres below street level. The fully automated line is driverless and, once fully operational, will provide a 24-hour transport system that guarantees the mobility of 240,000 passengers a day (or 130m a year).