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Local heroes T

he ITS sector in Ireland has grown from strength to strength in recent years. Primarily this has been made possible through the forward thinking of profes-

sionals within the ITS industry. ITS infrastructure that was installed during the construction of the highway networks at a time of economic growth is now being realised at the deployment stage. Quite often at the planning stage of a highways construc-

tion project it can be difficult to justify the business case for the inclusion of ITS infrastructure. It can be difficult to portray the tangible benefits associated with ITS deploy- ments to financiers of highway projects. Transport agencies, such as the National Transport Authority (NTA), National Road Authority (NRA), and Local Authorities should be commended for their awareness of the potential benefits of ITS systems. Through careful consideration of the potential opportunities available in the field of ITS solutions, we can be thankful for the systems that we bear witness to today. Initially, when ITS technology was in its conceptual stage,

the standard procedure for deploying such technology was to run pilot schemes to gauge the effectiveness, or other- wise, of the ITS technology. Thankfully Ireland has success- fully deployed many ITS schemes such as ANPR journey times systems, VMS deployments and Real Time Passenger Information systems to name but a few. The successful deployment of these systems has given the much needed confidences required for future ITS deployments. This paved the way for the inclusion of significant ITS deployments, offering economy of scale and value for money as ITS infra- structure could be built into the proposed highways scheme at the initial design stage. This also negates the ‘retro fit’ or ‘bespoke’ nature of many early ITS deployments which quite often incurred financial costs associated with contractual claims environments. The standardising of ITS deployments at design stage can often strengthen the performance of the cost benefit analysis ratio of a proposed highways scheme.

PURE AND SIMPLE The cost of installing and operating ITS systems has reduced significantly in recent years. Like any emerging technology, the initial setup and associated costs can be quite high before the technology has been proven and a viable business case for future deployment has been established. The advances in technology in the telecommunications industry have also


been a major factor in reducing communications. Local Authorities that operate Traffic Management

Centres (TMC) have seen their communications costs reduced significantly due to the restructuring of their corpo- rate packages with telecommunications operator providers. The reduction in the cost of deploying fibre optic commu- nications technology has also been a key factor in lowering the operational costs of TMCs. By making full use of existing assets and harnessing their use for the betterment of service provision to the public, for example, the simple installation of a GSM SIM card to remote facilities allows 24 hour main- tenance supervision and real time information. The Irish Government and associated departments have

demonstrated leadership and support with regard to ITS in Ireland. Government bodies have a strong presence on many EU bodies including POLIS and ERTICO, along with partici- pation in EU projects such as EASYWAY/STREETWISE and POSSE. From a Local Authority perspective, the on-going participation in EU funded projects is crucial in maintaining the two way flow of knowledge and experiences between EU member states with regard to state-of-the-art ITS systems. EU funded projects such as RITS-Net, and Green eMotion which South Dublin County Council and Cork City Council respectively are a project partner, are good example of good information sharing platforms. Vol 8 No 2 Europe/Rest of the World

Martin Maycock and Donal Hodgins give the local authority perspective on the current state of ITS play in the Republic of Ireland

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