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THE VIEW The Voice from Brussels Konstandinos Diamandouros

How close are we at achieving real interoperability of ITS solutions?

Konstandinos Diamandouros is head of office at the European Union Road Federation.;


s ‘intelligence’ slowly but steadily becomes an integral part of transport policy, the

need for interoperability amongst various ITS-based solutions is becoming as pertinent as ever. From a policymaker’s point of view, the rationale is clear. Just as you can go to any supermarket in Europe and pay with the same credit card, you should similarly be able to travel around Europe with your car and have access to the various ITS applications available. Interoperability is in fact one of the drivers of the European Commission’s ITS action plan. In theory, the development and

deployment of any Europe-wide solutions requires first, the presence of legal coordinating framework at EU level and the elaboration of industry- based technical standards. Te first requirement was fulfilled

by the adoption of the ITS Directive in 2010, which gave the EC a legal mandate to supervise the deployment of ITS solutions in the Member States and to thus ensure that these do not result in the erection of ‘barriers’ on national frontiers. Te second was realised soon aſter in September 2010, when ETSI released the first European Standard laying down the specification for a global communication’s architecture of communications linked to ITS.

FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE Having laid the foundations for an EU-wide solution, the EC moved up a gear and sought to the put into theory into practice. EC-funded Field Operational Tests would not only


have to develop a communications architecture that would comply with the ETSI requirements and its updated ISO standard for ITS Communication Architectures; moreover, the related projects would investigate holding joint activities, including demonstrations, to check whether their separate systems could ‘talk’ to each other. Te FOTsis project has been of the

first large-scale project to test these hypotheses. Launched in 2011, and representing to date the largest FOT from an infrastructure point of view, the project had to come up with an architecture that could cater for the needs of seven different C-ITS services, across four test communities. No mean feat indeed but, following months of intensive labouring, the riddle was solved and FOTsis had its fully ETSI/ ISO ITS compliant communications’ architecture. Te next challenge was to check whether two standards’ compliant communication architectures could communicate with each other.

TWO SIDES, SAME COIN? Te natural partner for this ambitious experiment could be no other than DRIVE C2X, FOTsis’ ‘twin’ from the vehicle side. More specifically, the idea was to have a scenario composed of FOTsis-equipped infrastructure and a DRIVE C2X-equipped vehicle. Within this scenario, DRIVE C2X vehicle should be able to drive through FOTsis test-site, being able to receive messages broadcast by the roadside units. Simple stuff? Well, no not really. Aſter

careful examination by the experts of both projects, the conclusion was that

the two systems could essentially not communicate, unless significant (and expensive) interventions were made. While a setback for policymakers

❝ In theory, the

development and

deployment of any

Europe-wide solutions requires the presence of legal

coordinating framework at EU level

and system providers, these findings should under no circumstances lead to a questioning of the progress achieved to date. Having a common reference standard by which one can assess communication architectures is big achievement in itself. What is nevertheless clear is that compliance with the standards does not directly guarantee interoperability, even though it is a pre-requisite for its realisation.

A ROADMAP OF SORTS Building upon the progress achieved, several solutions have been identified to enable the interoperation between C-ITS communications architectures, compliant with standards, but that have implemented different subsets of technologies. In the short term, the future

NOTE The author would like to thank Emilio Cacheiro and Jorge Alonso from the FOTsis coordination team for their help with the compilation of this article.

deployment of C-ITS should take into account different points of view concerning the implementation of a common communications architecture for V2I communications and thus the deployment of innovative cooperative services. Tis means that the needs of the principal actors in road transport (mainly vehicles and infrastructure) should be clearly heard and conceptually integrated from the very start. In the longer term aspects such

as data exchanges, operational procedures and interfaces between daily service operations amongst the C-ITS environment actors are to be given a thorough look in terms of interoperability for achieving this overall interoperability of ITS services in Europe.

Vol 8 No 2 Europe/Rest of the World

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