Intelligent Transport Systems

The recent progress in information and communication technologies, such as smart mobile devices, wireless telecommunications, automated computer technologies and electronic automotive equipment, have revolutionized transport systems globally. Severe traffic problems such as traffic congestions and road safety increase the necessity of applying these technologies in transport systems in the form of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). In the last two decades, ITS have already proven its potential as a key enabler of cleaner, safer and more efficient transport systems operating in an innovative manner. To be specific, ITS have significantly contributed to reduce traffic crashes, travel time, travel costs and associated negative externalities by exchanging real-time traffic information, vehicle information and road conditions. Integrated ITS have also been assisting road users to determine the optimal routes by avoiding unnecessary journeys, congested routes, and selecting better linkages of transport modes used.

Further, the recent trends in ITS developments, such as the utilization of big data, open access, connected vehicles, and autonomous vehicles, not only grabs the attentions of road users, but also private sector, such as passenger transport providers and freight transport service providers. Regulatory agencies in the field of transport planning, infrastructure and road safety are all taking the unprecedented steps to work together to meet this growing demand. With an increasing number of ITS-related national or local initiatives, demands for new mobility services and applications are continuously growing in the Asia-Pacific region.

ITS have been regarded as one of the most cost-effective tools for traffic management. The traditional approach of coping traffic congestion by constructing new infrastructure might not be an effective option anymore for urban centres due to financial, space and environmental reasons. Countries and cities in the region would benefit from strategic initiatives to take advantage of well-established ITS policies and regional frameworks. It is expected that by harnessing state-of-the-art ITS technologies and lessons learned from within the region, the sustainability of transport systems can be strengthened significantly in the region.

Against this backdrop, ESCAP recognized the role of ITS through the Ministerial Declaration on Sustainable Transport Connectivity in Asia and the Pacific (in Ministerial Conference on Transport, December 2016) to increase the efficiency, safety and effectiveness of transport systems. At the Ministerial Conference, ESCAP member States approved the Regional Action Programme for Sustainable Transport Connectivity in Asia and the Pacific, phase I (2017-2021) which highlights the importance of ITS in the sustainable transport development through relevant regional policies, such as establishment of regional frameworks and tools for ITS deployment, and application of ITS for road safety. ESCAP also provides policy supports, technical assistances and capacity buildings for countries in Asia and the Pacific to conceive, plan, formulate and implement measures of ITS developments and operations.