Across Europe national, regional and local authorities are tasked with encouraging more sustainable patterns of travel to meet the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions targets in addition to addressing more local issues such as Air Quality Management Areas. At the same time public sector budgets are being cut due to the tight economic conditions whilst public authorities are required to deliver more for less. It is imperative that cost effective solutions must be found in these challenging times.
Urban Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) are a key element in the delivery of sustainable transport policies at the local level and are therefore important for developing EU promoted Urban Mobility Plans and the wide range of related measures to address congestion, safety and accessibility. ITS systems can be used to encourage and maintain more sustainable patterns of travel and reduce environmental impacts through prioritising the highway for public transport, walking and cycling, better management of the networks to reduce congestion, and through providing multimodal travel information to enable travellers to make informed choices.
ITS is an area of rapid development with many systems and services being offered to local authorities. However, issues which constrain the effectiveness of their application to develop sustainable transport policies relate to a lack of open specifications and standards. This makes it difficult for less experienced authorities to introduce coherent and cost effective ITS systems, leads to supplier dependency, and stifles the scale of the market for innovation.
POSSE (Promotion of Open Specifications and Standards in Europe) aims to encourage the use of ITS for sustainable urban policies through the transfer of good practice from UK and German experience to follower cities elsewhere in Europe and to support the development of appropriate Europe-wide open specifications and standards. The UK’s Urban Traffic Management and Control (UTMC) specifications based on open international standards were demonstrated in 2000 in four towns including Reading.
Ongoing development overseen by the UTMC Development Group (UDG) of public and private stakeholders has led to over 100 implementations in the UK. OCA is an association of 28 German, 5 Swiss and 3 Austrian towns who are working on the promotion of open standards. Open standard discussions will involve the development of ownership and build on existing EC initiatives such as the FRAME ITS architecture.
The project will be led by Reading with the support of UDG and OCA as knowledge sharing partners. The follower cities/regions will benefit from knowledge transfer and promote POSSE at a regional and national level in their countries. The project will deliver implementation plans which set out how open systems and specifications will be implemented and assist the follower cities delivering their environment policy objectives.
The project has very clearly set the project context and objectives which have been a challenge given the complexity of the concepts to be transferred through the project. These, and the form of the good practice guide, have been actively debated at two round table workshops in Klaipeda and Reading and this has set the foundations for the development of the GP guide. Three site visits have been undertaken. The Berlin and Reading meetings have provided examples of OTS and UTMC good practices, and the Klaipeda site visit demonstrated the challenges to the transfer sites.
Communication and dissemination is well under way with the website complete, and newsletters and brochure issued. The dissemination and communication plan for the transfer sites has been completed. POSSE has been represented at a number of meetings and conferences including the ITS World Congress in Vienna. A key element of the dissemination is the open ITS forum for cities wishing to more closely follow the project and 18 applications were received. The main project management systems are on track and have been implemented and the 1st claim submitted, monthly steering meetings have been undertaken. The inception meeting and 1st steering committee meeting have been held. Overall steady progress is being made on the project and this has been focused to ensure the project's success.