ITS is viewed by the Transport Administration as the digitisation of transport. European Commission research projects are acknowledged as a key influence on the Strategy. Delivery of the Strategy involves implementers, not only legislators.
The main drivers for ITS are:
1. The whole of society is digitising and transport forms part of that trend
2. ITS is a very effective method for ensuring accessibility, environmental improvements, safety and mobility
3. investment in ITS gives simple and fast results
Many parties have a part to play in using and developing the Strategy: universities, the Department for Enterprise and Innovation, the Transport Council, and the Swedish Transport Administration.
The main reasons for creating and implementing the ITS Strategy are to support profitable and competitive commercial companies, to strengthen the export of Swedish ITS equipment and expertise, and to position Sweden as an international leader in the ITS sector.
Other important matters where the ITS Strategy both influences Swedish policy and is influenced by external activities are the automated vehicles field including Sweden’s interaction with the Amsterdam Declaration on self driving vehicles, Sweden’s participation in the European Commission’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), in the Horizon 2020 EC research framework, and the Transport Administration’s own external analysis project and eventually the publication of the next Action Plan associated with the ITS Strategy.
The Strategy is ultimately about creating the next generation of journeys and transport.
The 2018 look at the results of the Strategy covered a wide range of implementations, trials, and research projects.
Intelligent goods transports and city logistics
The DenCity project has 20 participants and deals with movements of freight and refuse collections in dense urban settings. It includes the perspectives of the traffic manager, the freight operator, the freight originator and the ultimate recipient. It seeks to create solutions which are accessible and sustainable as well as desirable to the various participants in the chain.
Another project is testing geofencing of connected vehicles for environmental gain. It creates dynamic environmental zones and excludes all or selected vehicles based on noise, emissions and safety. This will be trialled in Gothenburg with participation by Volvo Cars and Technolution.
Work is also being done on long distance freight along European corridors of both road and rail, including cross border applications. These scenarios present big opportunities for ITS and Sweden is engaged in projects within the NordicWay project. E-documents have been a feature of cross border freight for some years; the next step may be adopting block chain processes. Transparency and trust are essential here and cannot be taken for granted.
The SESAM project covers digital locks as one solution to unattended home deliveries, one of the major challenges to last mile logistics. The MMID project looks at how to create and combine information to allow seamless transfers between different freight modes at ports, railheads and airports.
The ITS Strategy and Action Plan apply to the regional divisions of the Transport Administration. Roads in public ownership have been allocated a service level in order to underpin better traffic management and information services, leading to better traffic conditions. This means priority for increased ITS implementation on roads with large or medium traffic flows. Work is being done to create regional ITS policy goals and visions.
Planned ITS investment is coordinated across the regions in order to maximise benefits. Information systems are gradually expanded to include lane control, queue warnings etc. New infrastructure such as the major Stockholm bypass project is informed by and integrated into the ITS Strategy. Future resource requirements for ITS are identified and coordinated across the regions.
New traffic management and traffic information ITS is coming on stream influenced by the ITS Strategy and Action Plan. Ramp metering has not been widely used in Sweden but has been identified as of potential benefit and new or remodelled intersections should be designed with ramp metering in mind. The three existing ramp metering sites, all in the Stockholm region, will also be re-evaluated for possible upgrading, particularly with a view to move from fixed time to dynamic operation. The Western Region is evaluating a system of letting two vehicles through per green phase and there is a plan to publish a ramp metering guidance document.
Variable speed limits are also an important part of the new MCS traffic management system. Journey time information is being rolled out extensively on major roads, with existing sensor data being combined with bought-in data for instance FVD, in order to create accurate journey time predictions.
The Trafiken.nu app providing traffic information in Stockholm and Gothenburg has proved very popular and may well be rolled out elsewhere.
A lot of the Swedish efforts around traffic management and traffic data are centred on participation in European projects, notably Nordic Way (part of EUIP) and Socrates 2.
Several relevant trials are underway
- Safety cameras covering multiple traffic lanes are being trialled in tunnels in Gothenburg and Stockholm. If successful, regulations may be changed to allow this type of camera to be used generally on multi lane roads.
- Testing and calibration of emissions sensors to measure NOx and other pollutants, in connection with trialling reduced speed limits on the E4/E20 south of Stockholm during 2019 to check if this will reduce emissions.
- Using lane control to reserve lanes for emergency response vehicles when needed to cut response times.
- New methods of data collection: Bluetooth, purchasing private sector FVD, collecting vehicle data from ANPR cameras to assess environmental impacts of traffic. There is also a Waze pilot in Stockholm gathering crowdsourced traffic information.
ITS as part of the transport planning process
System analysis is being carried out of the roads network in the near, medium and long term time scale in order to identify both ITS and physical infrastructure work needed, for instance in connection with the upcoming national transport plan. ITS experts are also helping to create options for evaluation for transport interventions, suggesting ITS solutions which support current transport policy.
Transport planning starts with policy goals and a 20 to 40 year strategic plan. The next step is a twelve-year infrastructure provision plan and national and regional twelve-year plans for implementations. Active construction and installation work is planned in periods of one to four years. A new national transport plan for 2019 – 2029 is in the final stages of preparation. It includes references to ITS: for rail, but also for accessibility for disabled travellers, more implementation of safety cameras, and variable speed limits. The planning methodology is very clear that the starting point is a specific need or problem, and that wide consultation must be undertaken around this before any time is given to specifying possible solutions. In ITS terms, this is intended to stop any tendency to start with an available technology rather than with a transport need. There is also an emphasis on maintaining existing assets to their optimal performance, and on getting maximum capacity out of rail and roads before considering expansion of the network.
Connected and Autonomous Vehicles
These form an important part of the Strategy and Action plan. The vision is of increasingly connected vehicles, both V2I and V2V, enabling ever better driver assistance systems (ADAS) and gradually developing into full automation. The Swedish vehicle industry believes that the control of the vehicle communications will rest with them, but has no particular view on whether cellular, wifi or LTE-V2X PCS, or maybe hybrid systems, will form the communications services. It also envisages collaboration between OEMs to share data and information between different marques.
The vision is that Sweden by 2020 will be a leading country for the development of C-ITS including new technology, new system solutions, and new applications. It is envisaged that in order to secure this leading position, Sweden must show leadership by wide adoption of C-ITS on its own road network. A country can only truly demonstrate its capability in CAVs on a real road network in real traffic conditions.
Early successful C-ITS trials include icy road warning, hazard light warning, and warning of emergency response vehicles in the vicinity.
Mobility as a Service
This is another new ITS application and is the subject of several projects within the Action Plan portfolio, forming an important part of the next generation journeys and transport strand. A Swedish road map for MaaS has been developed taking work forward to an end point in 2027. Interestingly, the broad definition of MaaS used is “not owning cars”.
The UbiGo MaaS platform, one of the first in the world, is still in existence and developing. Other relevant projects include the SpaceTime employer-provided service, a park and ride scheme in Gothenburg, the KomILand rural MaaS concept, and MOVEBO in the west of Sweden.
One obstacle to MaaS in Sweden is finding a way for public transport operators to open their ticketing systems to third party resellers, but work is underway on negotiating this and it is hoped to have it resolved by 2023.
Vulnerable Road Users
These are defined as pedestrians, cyclists, moped riders and motorcyclists. The Strategy supports the increased uptake of the active modes of walking and cycling, but also the need to protect these VRU groups from accidents. Using these modes also needs to be comfortable, accessible and free from conflict with other road users, as well as safe. Interestingly, one strategy for increased safety is post-crash, ie improving the speed and quality of emergency services attendance.
Initiatives to create large scale information (including real time), ticketing and route planning services have traditionally been hampered by not all service operators / data owners being keen to share data. However the efforts are ongoing aided by a local open data project and soon to be underpinned by relevant EU regulations under the ITS Directive.
Sweden has 21 public transport regions and each region controls its own ticketing using slightly or very differing systems which have grown up over time. For this reason there is no current common database to support eg. a national ticket sales portal for public transport, but there is a strong desire in some quarters to achieve this and a push for systems to converge. Some public transport services cross national, not only regional, borders, and a truly national Swedish rail and bus ticketing service would also need to include services which cross into Denmark, Norway and Finland. The challenge is great but the drive and enthusiasm is also very clear.
At the same time, Mobility as a Service initiatives are coming at the same goals from a different direction and the two separate efforts will most likely end up supporting one another in creating more unified public transport information, planning and payment services.
The coordination of test sites
Sweden has a large number of well established test sites relative to the size of its ITS sector and market.
Test sites 2017:
Efforts to fully coordinate these and maximise their joint potential have so far only been partially successful. A bid for funding from the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth to fund and formalise such a coordination structure was unsuccessful in 2017. However, there is a real appetite on behalf of some of the test beds and of ITS Sweden to create a framework for closer collaboration and they continue to work towards achieving this. They would like to create a “package” of services to help market Swedish test sites and services to potential customers abroad.
Two things stand out about the Swedish government’s approach to its ITS Strategy and Action Plan. The first is that while it is an entirely Swedish process containing a large number of local public, private and academic interests, it is very much inspired, influenced and supported by EU research, regulation and participation. It seems unlikely that it would exist in anything near its current well established form without the EU’s ITS activities.
The second is how well accepted and integrated it is throughout the Swedish ITS sector. This seems to be mainly due to the very collaborative way it was conceived, with public and private sector actors coming together in a very open and collaborative way. Under the leadership of the Transport Administration, this culture has continued to be nurtured and there is no detectible discrimination between public and private sector interests when the Strategy is implemented and developed. This is also true of the potential central / regional divide. The Strategy working parties include regional as well as central government interests and there is no discernible discrimination here either. If anything, the regions appreciate the fact that the Strategy provides a good argument for funding for ITS, both maintenance and upgrading of existing systems and the procurement of new ones.