Seven ITS trends we’re looking out for in 2017

You can’t be a provider of advanced Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) solutions without being a forecaster. The world of transportation is experiencing major upheaval. From autonomous vehicles to ubiquitous traffic sensors, 2017 is shaping up to be a year of rapid change. Here’s an overview of the top seven ITS trends we expect to see in 2017.

1. States will invest in V2V and V2I infrastructure

Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications is a network where automobiles send messages to each other with information about what they’re doing. Vehicle-To-Infrastructure (V2I) is the same concept, but between cars and infrastructure. States are beginning to invest in infrastructure to support the rise of autonomous vehicles. The Federal Highway Administration released its V2I Guidance in 2016. It included five basic steps for State DOTs and Owners/Operators considering V2I deployments. These steps included updating Regional ITS architecture to better integrate with connected vehicles.

V2I Application

Example of Vehicle-To-Infrastructure Application

Why invest in V2I? When combined with V2V, V2I deployment will help to improve safety and mobility, and reduce environmental impact. These are all important to transportation agencies.

Also, in 2015 Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced legislation that would make vehicle-to-vehicle a mandatory feature of new cars. The US Department of Transportation is planning on providing up to $100 million over the next 5 years, through its Connected Vehicle pilot program, for projects that will deploy V2I technologies in real-world settings.

Connected, autonomous vehicles are coming. States and provinces need to be ready for them.

2. “Standard Production” autonomous vehicles will hit the streets

Up until now autonomous vehicles tested on roads were concept cars. Nevada has been licensing autonomous vehicles since 2011, and in 2012 Google received the first license for an autonomous vehicle. All of those cars have been prototypes. Next year, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class will become the first “standard-production” vehicle to receive a testing license in Nevada. Other models required extra sensors or other modifications. Not the E-Class. It’s ready to go. From prototype to standard production. Driverless cars are going mainstream in 2017.

MercedesEClass

The 2017 Mercedes E-Class. Coming to Nevada roads next year.

3. Sensors, sensors everywhere

Expect a new wave of technology to enter the market in late 2017 that significantly lowers the cost of deploying traffic sensors. It’s already happening in Chicago. They’ve just launched Array of Things, a groundbreaking urban sensing project. The plan is to install 500 nodes on city streets that can measure air quality, climate, traffic and other urban features. This technology will collect data that will help the municipality understand environmental, traffic or pedestrian trends so it can make better and safer municipal planning decisions.

We expect 2017 to be a big year for sensor deployment as lower-cost technology to track and manage traffic and other city services become available. Everything and anything can, and will be measured in cities.

4. Cities will get smart about ITS security

Many cities will tackle ITS security. As public works infrastructure begins to rely on sensor integration and data gathering as part of its operations, data security will emerge as a key concern for cities. This issue will move from a theoretical “what if” in 2016, to a practical “must have” for cities in the year ahead.

A thorough data security policy which covers how data is transmitted to and from infrastructure, where data is stored, and who has access to use it will become a critical management questions for traffic agencies. Many cities will rely on guidance from sources like Smart City IoT best-practices

5. The rise of smart city testbeds & municipal innovation zones

Expect a flurry of new initiatives in 2017 related to helping cities explore ITS innovation in a faster and more effective way. While standard procurement models will still exist, we expect more smart city testbeds and municipal innovation zones in the year ahead to spur the adoption of new technologies. 

Jakarta is leading the way in 2017, by allocating two pockets of its city to testbed sensors and apps to improve public services.  The testbed will be used to improve street lights, parking, electricity generation and water treatment.

Luxembourg is trying to position itself as a national testbed for smart city technologies. Luxinnovation, the national agency for innovation and research, recently released a video highlighting its Smart Day initiative.

We’re developing a smart city testbed in our own backyard. Our future headquarters will be located at Catalyst137. Catalyst137 represents a Canadian testbed where local makers can gather to innovate in the Internet-of-Things (IoT) space. It will include testing facilities, commercialization services, and a hackable streetscape.  

6. City infrastructure as a service

In the same way that many technology companies have moved to hosted “software-as-a-service” (SaaS) platforms to run their businesses, cities will start embracing “infrastructure-as-a-service” (IaaS) to help run traffic operations. For many cities, this will be driven by the desire to move away from the mindset of needing to own, host, and operate all ITS technology, which can place excessive burden on IT and transportation departments, especially for smaller traffic agencies.

Leveraging IaaS introduces agencies to fully managed and hosted services for everything from traffic signal communications to video storage and data analysis. IaaS has the potential to not only save traffic agencies money, but also empowers their traffic engineers to focus on using data to fix traffic challenges instead of coping with IT challenges of simply acquiring the data.

7. ITS, coming to a rural area near you

Historically most ITS deployments were focused on large cities with high congestion and complex traffic problems. But if the interest in the 2016 National Rural ITS Conference is any indicator, we’ll see more sophisticated ITS deployments in rural and small towns. 

ITS Trends Rural

Smaller agencies recognize the benefit of data-driven traffic management, and want to generate better efficiencies in their maintenance and traffic operations. A new generation of ITS solutions that are both affordable and accessible to various levels of technical expertise will bring value to cities of any size in 2017.

Other ITS trends?

Do any other intelligent transportation trends come to mind? Leave a comment below and we’ll expand our list!