By Eimear Dodd Journalism MA student, @TheCity_Dublin editor, @Irish_TechNews

While the concept of intelligent transport systems (ITS) may be unfamiliar to many, it is an idea that has a tangible impact on everyday life. It looks at the application of IT and communications technology to improve the safety and efficiency of transportation. Traffic lights, speed cameras and road sensors are some of the solutions that have been developed to manage traffic and transport.

ITS Ireland is a non-profit public/private sector partnership that looks to promote the development of smart, safe and more environmentally friendly transport. The Women in ITS seminar was a joint venture between ITS Ireland and its UK counterpart- ITS UK.

The meeting opened with two presentations of winning projects within the ITS area by secondary school students. Both projects offered solutions to real-world transport and safety problems. They also demonstrated that small innovations can offer effective solutions to problems.

The afternoon featured research updates on problems and challenges within the ITS industry. Elizabeth Hegg of the National Transport Authority (NTA) and Clare Mee from OpenSky Data Systems explained how technology assists the NTA in its work as one of the regulators of the taxi industry in Ireland.

Their joint presentation focused on the apps that help the agency. The Driver Check app provides information about drivers and vehicles to consumers and can help to ensure their safety. One of the app’s features allows the user to send themselves or a friend an email with information about the driver and the vehicle. The NTA has also implemented an app for drivers which allows them to maintain their compliance while out on the road. NTA inspectors also use the app to help them with their inspections.

The meeting also looked at the possible impact of electronic vehicles (EV) and connected and autonomous vehicles on the road network. These developments are already having an impact on transport systems as the industry attempts to prepare the technology’s wider adoption.

How will autonomous vehicles and other road users share the roads? Nada Svilar of AECOM spoke about how the existing model of car ownership suggests that the road network will be used by a mix of cars for the foreseeable future. Autonomous vehicles will likely be sharing the roads with more traditional cars.

Infrastructure planning will have to consider the implications of this scenario. So while there are possible savings from reduced road maintenance costs, signs and signalling thanks to autonomous vehicles, these could take longer to materialise. Her presentation also highlighted that preparation for the shifts in road use will require collaboration between many groups that will be affected by these changes including state agencies, local authorities, tech companies, insurers and the public.

The final presentation was a case study of PokemonGo by Sharon Kindleysides. Launched in 2016, the augmented reality game was used as a case study for planning the rollout of Internet of Things (IoT) interconnectedness. The game’s popularity and the size of its user base could mirror the initial adoption of IoT. As such, there needs to be planning and sufficient contingency to ensure that the systems can cope with the expected demand.

Similarly, there are issues to consider surrounding data security and the potential for social and digital exclusion within IoT. Connectivity and broadband coverage tends to be better quality in urban areas. This will create issues around the access to services for people who live in rural areas. IoT interconnectedness may also charging infrastructure for the mobile devices.

The Women in ITS Interest group seminar raised many practical issues. The sector has to respond to new developments created by the pace of change across multiple sectors. But it has a sense of the puzzles it needs to solve in the coming years.

To learn more about ITS Ireland visit their website

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