After two decades of research, ITS is getting into its stride

Colin Sowman gets the global view on how ITS has shaped the way we travel today and what will shape the way we travel tomorrow.

Over the past two decades the scope and spread of intelligent transport systems has grown and diversified to encompass all modes of travel while at the same time integrating and consolidating. Two decades ago the idea of detecting cyclists or pedestrians may have been considered impossible and why would you want to do that anyway? Today cyclists can account for a significant proportion of rush-hour city commutes and their needs are becoming a mainstream consideration in traffic planning. New technologies and systems, often from start-up companies, have been introduced one year and become part of the mainstream within the next five, and often the manufacturer has been swallowed up by a large organisation aiming to offer authorities a one-stop shop.

The technology itself has become increasingly capable and effective to a point that it is difficult to comprehend what the travel situation in many cities and highways would be like without ITS. And while systems have become more robust, this growing reliance on ITS leaves cities vulnerable to mass disruption if these systems fail or are disrupted – unintentionally or otherwise.