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COoperative Benefits for Road Authorities

European Union
Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Connected and automated transport (CAT)
Network and traffic management systems (NTM)
Transport mode
Road icon
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues,
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

Road authorities traditionally use road side systems to perform their classic traffic management and traffic information tasks to inform road users. In various front-runner countries in the world cooperative systems are being developed. Cooperative Systems communicate and share information dynamically between vehicles or between vehicles and the infrastructure, to give advice or take actions with the objective of improving safety, sustainability and efficiency. These systems are on the verge of a breakthrough and many services will develop quite rapidly over the next couple of years to become ‘common reality’. With the advent of mature cooperative systems, road authorities are increasingly confronted with the question whether to keep investing in their existing solutions or to make their infrastructure intelligent. Several aspects play a role in this decision such as costs and benefits, return on investment, expected deployment of ITS, and legal and privacy issues. The main question of this project therefore is how road authorities need to position themselves to optimally benefit from changes in the field of cooperative systems and stay connected to the in-car developments.


COBRA is providing support for decision makers on cooperative systems. This deliverable has the following objectives (from the Statement of Work agreed with the Customer):

  1. What Cooperative Systems applications exist or are already being actively implemented
  2. What Cooperative Systems technologies and applications are already in development and are inevitable
  3. What Cooperative Systems technologies and applications are likely to become feasible in the medium to long term
  4. Establish what costs and benefits have been previously identified and evaluated within both the European and wider international contexts
  5. Establish what cost benefits analysis has already been undertaken by other projects and how relevant these are given our current understanding of future developments
  6. Inventory of existing legal frameworks


Parent Programmes
Type of funding
Public (EU)
Other Programme


The analysis carried out in the COBRA project revealed a complex picture. Road authorities must address different types of issues when considering the deployment of cooperative services. Some issues are hurdles or preconditions that can prevent the deployment of cooperative services, such as legal aspects. Some concern fundamental examination of the role the road authority wants to play in traffic management and fulfilling its mandate. Still others have to do with the complexity of financial issues (planning cash flows) and the chain of deployment. The phasing out of existing infrastructure requires significant and careful analysis of the specific situation in each country. 

The benefit-cost ratio of deploying cooperative systems is often higher and even much higher than one. Making use of smart phones and retro-fit units can lead to a relatively quick equipment rate of drivers (vehicles). They are relatively inexpensive, also given the high penetration of smart phones in Europe. Smart phone issues such as reliability, accuracy and time-criticality prevent the current technology from being used for safety-critical applications. Future cellular technologies are promising and may meet requirements for reliability, accuracy and time-criticality for safety applications.

The societal cost-benefit case is positive for bundle 3. The business cases for the Road Authority for deployment of bundle 3 are positive in each of the three business models analysed in detail, mainly because of the large potential for cost savings assuming that it is acceptable to remove some of the existing roadside system, that is, the signs (DRIPs) that display traffic and travel information.

For bundles 1 and 2, the costs far outweigh the benefits on the societal level in both the cellular and wireless beacon implementations. However, the Road Authority has a positive business case in all three business models. In the two wireless beacons business models analysed, the road authority would be facing significant initial investment.

The benefit-cost ratio is highly sensitive to CAPEX and OPEX in-vehicle costs, which are multiplied by a percentage of the total number of vehicles equipped, and to the deployment of wireless beacons, which are expensive at this moment. The Road Authority business model does not include the invehicle costs; these costs are for users or for vehicle manufacturers. In spite of these in-vehicle costs not being part of the road authority’s business model, whether a user must pay these costs raises equity issues, as described in Chapter 3. The costs of the wireless beacons influence the road authority’s business model. Thus, reduction or controlling of these costs work to improve the benefit-cost ratio and the business model.

The road authority faces many choices in deciding how to deploy cooperative systems. Some are non-financial, such as the role of the road authority in traffic management, the complexity of the chain of delivery of services, policy goals on road safety, environment or congestion, or even less traffic-related goals on innovation, industry development or employment. Other choices are financial, such as the business model. The financial and non-financial choices are interdependent, for example, the choice of a business model implicitly leads to a specific role.

The business model analysis in Chapter 3 show that there are many levers to play with in influencing the business model calculations. These levers can for example affect a scenario in which wireless beacons are deployed: the business case can be made positive. In investigating a plan for deployment, detailed calculations are necessary. The exact results will depend on the existing infrastructure within a specific country. The introduction of cooperative systems using an aggressive vs modest reduction of existing roadside infrastructure has a major impact on the business case. A reduction of existing infrastructure that is too aggressive can lead to a loss of benefits.

A “good” choice of a business model by a road authority requires positive business cases for all actors involved in deploying the cooperative service. Taking this perspective to the opposite extreme, a road authority that chooses the business case that is very positive but means that other actors needed to deliver the service have negative business cases, chooses a path that will doom the deployment of cooperative systems. Simply said: a great business case for the road authority may mean a very unattractive business case for another partner. A good choice of business model and case requires the simultaneous examination of the business models and cases of all the actors needed in deploying cooperative systems.

The migration paths reveal actions that the road authority can take before making the decision to deploy cooperative systems. The road authority can investigate the financial and non-financial issues mentioned above. It can investigate which cooperative systems provide services would be most relevant to its goals. It can determine what role it will choose to play in deployment. It can explore paths for deployment that result, both in financial and non-financial terms.

In financial terms, road authorities that have already invested significantly in existing roadside infrastructure face a more difficult challenge in justifying the investment in cooperative system infrastructure. These road authorities will need to build a case for an "in-vehicle service" requiring short and medium term investment and thus an increase in costs with potentially little benefit in the short term above that which has been achieved from the existing road side infrastructure. This may make it difficult to raise funds for these types of services. A careful analysis of investment in new infrastructure and possible reduction in the existing roadside infrastructure over time is required to build the case.

Calculating impacts using the COBRA tool reveals that motorways are often already relatively safe and have a relatively high traffic efficiency. In comparison to other road types, motorways have smaller gains to realise. To achieve higher impacts on a broader geographic scale, and simultaneously to reduce costs, road authorities can look for synergies in deployment with other road authorities at the provincial and urban levels to achieve impacts on more than one type of road. The synergy is to use applications on a common platform, or even common applications, thus realising shared costs.

The decision to deploy cooperative systems requires looking at the international context. This project, COBRA, is a good example, given the funding of this project by five road authorities in ERA-NET Mobility. Decisions about services and technology lead to greater efficiency, performance and seamless cross-border functionality when carried out at using a larger (international) perspective. Initiatives along these lines already exist and should expand to achieve widespread deployment.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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