TN-ITS: the Transport Network ITS Spatial Data Deployment Platform
Evolution of digital maps for ITS
The evolution of digital maps for ITS covers more than 30 years. It started in the second half of the 1980s with the large-coverage development by the commercial sector of detailed maps for navigation systems. These maps were based on the GDF standard, which developed in parallel. Soon after market introduction of navigation systems, mid 1990s, the digital maps started to be used for other ICT-based in-vehicle systems that were under development. These ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems) applications were followed by cooperative systems (C-ITS), and currently automated driving is on the horizon. The map in combination with positioning developed to a valuable sensor for in-vehicle systems. The navigation map providers developed to multinational organisations with the same map database specification world-wide, providing maps for ITS. Over time, with the successive generations of applications, the requirements for the map increased. It has especially become increasingly critical that the ITS maps are highly up to date. The ITS map providers use many different data sources and uphold quality and freshness of their maps. But it is practically very difficult if not impossible to capture the many highly-scattered changes that occur day by day in road attributes.
Efficient source for single data point updates
Road authorities decide on and implement these road network changes. It was realised already some ten years ago that adequate capturing and storage of changes in road attributes by road authorities, immediately when these occur, would constitute by far the most efficient and timely source for accurate information on such changes. Doing this would require adequate procedures at road authorities, and a road map database as data store. With progressing digitalisation, national road databases are also being developed. Solutions for the national road database will vary from country to country, in terms of specification, data model and GIS environment used. To overcome these differences, the TN-ITS framework was developed as a harmonised solution for exchange of ITS-related spatial data, and especially updates thereof. When organised well, with a solid cooperation between road authorities and ITS map providers, TN-ITS updates on road attributes will become a trusted source. In addition, it will concern single data points (not big data), which do not require extensive processing and interpretation.
Peculiar traffic sign situation in Finland. Source: Matti Pesu, Finnish Transport Agency.
Mission of TN-ITS
The mission of TN-ITS is to facilitate and foster, throughout Europe, the exchange of ITS-related spatial data between public road authorities as data providers, and ITS map providers and other parties as data users, in the context of the TN-ITS framework.
The TN-ITS platform
TN-ITS platform is organised as an association of members under ERTICO-ITS Europe. It has two types of members. Regular members are either data providers such as road authorities or data users such as the ITS map providers. Membership at the data provider side is generally at the national level, through the national road administration, ministry of transport or another national organisation involved in road data maintenance, although membership of regional or local authorities is certainly possible. Any organisation interested in the activities of TN-ITS but not qualifying as a regular member, may become a support member.
Source of image: ROSATTE web site (ertico.com/rosatte/).
Delegated Regulation 2015/962 and cooperation with DG MOVE
The work and mission of TN-ITS are closely connected to and support the implementation of the “Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/962 of 18 December 2014 supplementing Directive 2010/40/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council with regard to the provision of EU-wide real-time traffic information services”, published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 23-06-2015, with respect to Article 4 “Accessibility, exchange and re-use of static road data” and Article 8 “Updating static road data”. For this matter, TN-ITS closely cooperates with DG MOVE of the European Commission. Conversely, the existence of the Delegated Regulation, and the obligation concerning provision of static data arising therefrom for Member States, significantly support the roll-out of the TN-ITS concept across Europe.
INSPIRE: close cooperation the EC Joint Research Centre
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission is the technical custodian of INSPIRE, the Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community. Since 2014, TN-ITS closely cooperates with the JRC. TN-ITS, the JRC and the ELF project jointly carried out the Transportation Pilot (2014/2015), during which TN-ITS services were realised in Norway and Sweden. The ELF project develops a pan-European platform and web service building on INSPIRE for access to harmonised spatial data. The INSPIRE infrastructure may be important for EU Member States that yet have to develop a national road database infrastructure.
TN-ITS implementation sub-project of the EU EIP
It is thought that the best way to progress the TN-ITS concept and increase membership, is to continue setting up implementation activities in EU Member States. As a next step, following the success of the Transportation Pilot, new pilot TN-ITS services are being set up in five more EU Member States, in the framework of a sub-project of the EU EIP project (European ITS Platform), funded under the Multi-Annual Programme of CEF Transport. CEF is the Connecting Europe Facility of the European Union. The Member States involved are Finland, Flanders/Belgium, the United Kingdom, Ireland and France. The TN-ITS sub-project started January 2016, and is expected to run until mid 2017.
Technical progress in TN-ITS is established in its working groups. These constitute a main element of the TN-ITS spectrum of activities. Currently four working groups are in place, respectively dealing with Location referencing (WG1), Specifications and standardisation (WG2), Implementation support (WG3) and Generic tools and reference implementation (WG4). After a less active year 2015, the working groups are now in a process of regaining momentum.