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ITS can benefit Asia, but these challenges must also be addressed

ITS can benefit Asia, but these challenges must also be addressed
Asian municipality officials are increasingly relying on intelligent transportation systems (ITS), which carry various benefits as well as challenges that need to be addressed.
More and more, Asian metropolises are building themselves up to be smart cities, which must be supported with smart transportation. In this regard, municipality officials are turning to intelligent transportation systems (ITS), which carry various benefits as well as challenges that need to be addressed.
Increasingly, Asia cities are seeing rapid urbanization, which has prompted officials to initiate smart city plans to make themselves safer and more livable.
A key component to any smart city plan is smart transportation, which seeks to address transportation issues that inevitably arise with more people driving. To that end, Asian municipal administrators are eyeing ITS, which leverages sensors and the data they generate to improve transportation.

Benefits of ITS

Indeed, benefits of ITS are manifold. One of them is transportation infrastructure optimization and reduced traffic congestion. Singapore, for example, has long implemented electronic road pricing which increases tolls during certain times of the day, thus directing road users to other routes or other modes of transportation. Fully electronic toll collection, which is implemented in Taiwan, prevents drivers from stopping their vehicles to pay tolls. Self-adaptive signal control, meanwhile, prolongs green lights automatically if there’s less traffic in the intersecting lanes.
Further, ITS makes roads safer. Variable message signs (VMS), for example, inform drivers of dangers ahead so they can prepare accordingly. Finally, ITS enables better planning for the future. Data generated by roadside sensors as well as the driver’s own cars or smart devices can help governments plan for better routes and services to further improve transportation.


Yet benefits aside, Asian countries seeking to develop ITS are also faced various challenges which are summarized as follows.


Funding remains a main challenge for Asian cities seeking to implement ITS, and this is especially the case for smaller cities. “Indian mega-cities such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai have their own authority to promote ITS. However, the smaller cities of Indore, Pune and other tier-2 cities currently lack the technical and financial capacity to develop ITS infrastructure,” said United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).
According to the organization, private-public partnerships via the build-operate-transfer model and funding through international financial bodies are both viable solutions. “Cooperation with leading ITS countries through official development assistance, or grants and loans from international financing institutions as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, may help countries build up their ITS capacity,” it said.


With ITS gaining momentum, interoperability and standardization issues inevitably arise, posing another challenge for Asian cities aiming to implement ITS. In this regard, national-spearheaded ITS standardization efforts become important. “Developing ITS technical and service standards at national level are important for Asian countries. Having such standards in a national ITS strategy can ensure the sustainability, compatibility and capacity to expand ITS services and so contribute to cost management and boost operational efficiency,” UNESCAP said.


Finally, with ITS generally seen as part of a larger IoT framework, attacks against it can become a major problem that is not region-specific. “Penetration of one piece of ITS equipment is a notable threat, but the ability to affect more than a single piece of equipment is much more significant and has been demonstrated by researchers,” said consulting firm Atkins.
To address the specific threats and vulnerabilities that ITS may be subject to, Atkins offered various tips. These include: developing defense-in-depth and incident response into the ITS; employing detection technology such as intrusion detection systems (IDS) and intrusion prevention systems (IPS); protecting wireless features; developing and maintaining business continuity and disaster recovery plans; and participating in information sharing with various stakeholders.

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