National roll-out of intelligent Traffic Light Controller (iTLC) continues

Even during these turbulent coronavirus times we continue to move forward and the roll-out of iTLCs is steadily progressing. What’s more, a 'remote' version of the national acceptance protocol is being developed because it has proven effective in practice. The necessary technical shortcomings have also been resolved recently and serious progress has been made in various other areas.

The national roll-out of iTLCs, connected to the Dutch national Traffic Light Exchange point (TLEX) and functioning in the chain continues. ‘In-factory’ acceptance (Factory Acceptance Test, FAT) is conducted remotely as much as possible. This process is jointly observed by the road authority that ordered the iTLC, from its particular location. At first this approach requires some getting used to, but it is proving effective. So effective that it has been proposed that a national approach be developed to be continued after the coronavirus pandemic. Work is underway to achieve this: a 'remote' version of the national acceptance protocol is under development.

On-site acceptance (Site Acceptance Test, SAT) of iTLCs takes place in the outdoor space. Taking into account all RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment) guidelines, this does not change much. Although the scope of the necessary traffic measures is reduced considerably. These circumstances reveal the effectiveness of remotely implementing and monitoring updates and how successful the method is. We are going to work on this approach and ensure it becomes 'the new norm' post-corona. In any case it requires iTLCs to be remotely accessible.

Numbers in the chain

On 25 March, there were 434 active iTLCs, of which 418 are delivering correct Signal Phase and Timing (SPaT) and topology (MAP) data. There's still quite a way to go but work has certainly not grinded to a halt.

Issue management

The generic technical issues have been resolved: since the most recent national DeepDive session on 19 March (and following subsequent consultation via tele-conferencing), the national list of iTLC issues (the so-called 'Mantis list') is empty. At least with regard to the issues that must be tackled nationally and adapted in a national standard. There are certainly still issues, but they mainly concern a specific highway authority and a specific supplier in a specific situation. So we seem to finally be emerging from the quagmire of accumulating issues. This is a compliment to all suppliers and road authorities and their supporting colleagues that have been working extremely hard on this project for a considerable period of time. We continue to plan the national DeepDive sessions fortnightly for online consultation, but will cancel them timely if no new national issues arise. Moreover, we are still actively supporting road authorities and suppliers in resolving local issues: so get us involved, we are available! Contact Marcel Westerman via marcel@marcelwesterman.nl.

Quality agreements

The ‘i’ of iTLC only provides added value if services (use cases) operate effectively and reliably. At the request of road authorities we are working on establishing quality agreements for iTLC data (SPaT, MAP and the traffic signal priority message SSM). They form the basis for including performance agreements (service level agreements, SLAs) in specifications and management and service contracts between road authorities and suppliers. This enables the quality of iTLC data to be monitored and integrated in the standard iTLC management. Road authorities and suppliers are working together to further improve management of the iTLC across the data chain as a whole. The National Traffic Management Council (LVMB) and Talking Traffic are working together to achieve this.

Governance standards

  • The Strategic Committee (SC) and Change Advisory Board (CAB) have determined the delivery date, 9 July 2020, for the iTLC services ‘Traffic Signal Priority’ (use case 3) and ‘Signal Phase and Timing Information’ (use case 4). At that time, the requests for amendments to various national standards will be presented to the SC so they can be established as a new national standard. These improvements to the existing national standards will elevate the quality of both iTLC services (use cases) considerably. These updated national standards will subsequently be applied in all iTLCs already operating in Talking Traffic and still to be implemented.
  • Work has also begun on a new national 'Consolidation of iTLC data chain in relation to use' work item. On 12 March, the SC commissioned the CAB to compile a plan of action for this work item. It concerns more fundamental improvements to the data chain as a whole, related to functionality, technology, organisation and management.

Privacy and security

  • A chain-wide risk assessment has been drafted with regard to privacy and security. The privacy draft, compiled by an independent privacy expert, is currently being reviewed by a number of Data Protection Officers. The final version will then be shared with all authorities and companies. Work is currently underway on additional management measures based on the security draft.
  • Almost all public authorities participating in Talking Traffic have concluded a data processing agreement with their suppliers. The municipalities of The Hague, Breda and Apeldoorn have virtually completed it, the municipalities within the Metropolitan Region of Amsterdam (except for Amsterdam) still have to do so. Consultation with the Data Protection Officers is still ongoing with the authorities in Groningen and Drenthe.

Effect measurement

Besides the ongoing evaluation performed by the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) to assess the effects of the six use cases within Talking Traffic, an evaluation has begun by Be-Mobile in association with DTV Consultants. Fortunately baseline measurements and post-introduction measurements were already available 'pre-coronavirus', which are now being analysed. iTLCiTLC.

Tender for the iVRI Acquisition Point

Lastly, work has begun to ensure the function of one iTLC national acquisition point and movement data as of 2021, which is currently fulfilled by TLEX (Traffic Light Exchange). The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (IenW) published a Pre-announcement on the Dutch government’s online tendering system TenderNed to this effect on Monday 16 March. IenW is acting as the contracting authority due to the financing and the national interest. The intention is for the National Data Warehouse for Traffic Information (NDW) to provide executive contract management as part of the National Access Point for Mobility Data.