In recent decades, a large number of ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) based transport applications have been successfully developed and demonstrated in research projects throughout Europe. Their positive impact on traffic safety and efficiency are now widely recognised. However, market penetration is lagging behind, perhaps due to a lack of awareness and understanding of their societal benefits.
At present, the amount of data available regarding real life operation of ICT-based transport applications in ordinary traffic is fairly limited. Yet, there is a growing need to understand several key questions which are crucial for market introduction and penetration of mature technologies:
- How does the driver use the system?
- What are the short and long term effects?
- How can the systems' performance be further improved?
Field Operational Tests (FOT) are large-scale test programmes aiming at a comprehensive assessment of the efficiency, quality, robustness and acceptance of ICT solutions used for smarter, safer and cleaner and more comfortable transport solutions.
Previous experience in Europe and beyond has shown that FOTs are an excellent way to raise awareness, collect real data, and enhance the take-up of ICT solutions. FOTs have also proved to be a powerful tool to gain insight into the way new functions and systems suit the user when operated in the real context and for a sufficient time period to obtain statistically sound data. The results of these tests help business leaders to make informed decisions about the market introduction or improvements of the systems. They also enable policy makers to establish the right policy framework for deployment of these systems (for instance via a market-driven approach, incentives or mandatory fitting of certain types of intelligent vehicle systems).
During the lifetime of the different Field Operational Tests carried out both at National and European levels, there is a need for a platform for knowledge exchange in order to allow these individual FOTs to benefit from each others' learning experiences as well as giving the European Commission an overview of the activities involved.
The FOT-Net support action gathers FOT organisers in one strategic networking platform. The primary aim of this network is to spread and feed-in the common FESTA methodology which has been developed for Field Operational Tests. The FESTA project (EU, FP7, 2007-2008) developed a comprehensive manual which described the various steps to be taken when organising a Field Operational Test.
The FOT networking platform aimed not only to spread this methodology, but also to further explore the FESTA recommendations, and debate issues which will need further attention.
This networking platform is open to all stakeholders from public and private sectors and will give a benchmarking overview of the range of successes in reaching societal benefits with ICT based functions and systems for road transport all over Europe. FOT-Net's prime goal is to establish a support action for strategic networking of existing and future National, European and Global FOTs (e.g. US and Japan).
The action included all stakeholder groups that play or will play an active and needed role in existing and future National, European and Global FOTs. The major objectives of FOT-Net are twofold:
- First FOT-Net will establish a European networking body for National, European and Global FOTs where all stakeholders from public and private sectors are represented.
- Second, FOT-Net will contribute to improve significance, visibility, comparability and transferability of available FOT results at National and European level by promoting the implementation of a common FOT methodology (FESTA results).
FOT-Net was principally built around:
- Stakeholders' meetings gathering European players interested in FOTs to share information, results and developments of trials which are carried out at European and national levels. The aim of these meetings was to foster co-operation and exchange of information about the results (the socio-economic impact assessment) of these field tests.
- A series of seven seminars, tailored to specialists and experts who work or plan to work on the activities of a (future) Field Operational Test. The seminars explained and discussed the FESTA handbook on Field Operational Test methodology, which gives general guidance on organisational issues, methodology and procedures, data acquisition and storage, and evaluation.
- In order to exchange information about Field Operational Test activities and to foster co-operation with North America and Japan, two international FOT-Net workshops were held.These workshops aimed to address the challenges and needs of the various regions actively involved in FOTs.
The project created a platform for knowledge exchange in order to allow individual FOTs (Field Operational Tests) benefit from each others' learning experiences, and also to provide the European Commission with an overview of the activities involved.
Many ICT based transport applications have been successfully developed and demonstrated in projects throughout Europe. These projects demonstrated a positive impact on traffic (safety, efficiency). As awareness and understanding of the societal benefits are lacking, market penetration is lagging behind.
With that in mind, there is a growing need to understand the key questions that are crucial for market introduction: (a) how do drivers use the system, (b) what are the short and long term effects and (c) how can the systems performance be further improved? The FOT-net Support Action project answers these key questions by bringing FOT organisers together into one strategic networking platform, thus spreading and sharing all available information.
Experience in Europe, US and Japan has shown that FOTs (Field Operational Tests) are a very good way to raise awareness, to collect real data, and to enhance the take-up of ICT solutions. In addition, FOTs provide further and deeper insight into the way in which functions and systems suit the user when operated in the real context. When these FOTs have taken place for a sufficient amount of time, they also provide statistically sound data.
The results help business leaders to make informed decisions about the market introduction and/or improvements of the systems. It also enables policy makers to establish the right policy framework for deployment of these systems, via market-driven approach, incentives or mandatory fitting of certain types of intelligent vehicle systems.
Innovating for the future (technology and behaviour): a European Transport Research and Innovation Policy.