Building a collaborative ITS community through online training
Manuela Flachi, the CAPITAL Project Manager, with contribution from Rita Bhandari and Jonathan Benton, ERTICO-ITS Europe, explains how the CAPITAL project helps to foster the uptake, development and deployment of ITS services in transport networks.
A gap in the market
Intelligent transport systems (ITS) are on the cusp of large-scale deployment in Europe and the wider world – the message from suppliers and developers of ITS services and applications. However, a study conducted by the CAPITAL (Collaborative cApacity Programme on ITS Training-educAtion and Liaison) project in 2017 found that the public authorities which can deploy these services are often not only unaware of the potential benefits of ITS, they also lack the knowledge and understanding of what ITS services are and how to deploy them. Results from the study also indicated a need for sharing of best-practice cases as well as training on evaluation methods and cost-benefit analysis of ITS services.
To raise awareness of and provide guidance on ITS and Cooperative ITS (C-ITS), CAPITAL has come up with some pedagogical and practical solutions, at the heart of which lies a collaborative capacity building programme. Our aspiration is to teach decision makers about the benefits and deployment possibilities of ITS and C-ITS so they can make their transport networks cleaner, safer, smarter and more efficient.
Theory, practice and policy
The CAPITAL project, which is coordinated by ERTICO-ITS Europe, is run by 11 partners from across Europe including government departments (UK’s Department for Transport, City of Helmond, AustriaTech), research organisations (VTT Research, CERTH), an academic institution (Newcastle University), trade associations (IRU, FIA) and ITS associations (ERTICO, TTS Italia, ITS Hellas). By bringing together such a diverse consortium of leading experts and professionals in this field, we are providing state-of-the-art training and education resources, particularly for public authorities. We want to equip public and local authorities with the skills and knowledge needed to make the best use of ITS services. Whether it’s reducing traffic congestion, improving road safety or cutting emissions, there are ITS and C-ITS solutions available right now if one knows where to find them.
Open online learning
To train and educate those looking for answers, we are developing a range of tools. But our biggest accomplishment is the creation of an online training platform. Our commitment is to create a one-stop solution for online learning on ITS and C-ITS by offering training on all aspects of the subject, catering to all levels. Our courses run on the Open edX platform ensuring easy access for all with a powerful user interface and experience.
The online training platform will help students develop their knowledge, skills and abilities to build technical, business and policymaking proficiency in ITS deployment. What makes this platform and our courses unique is the community we are building to support the training and education of ITS professionals. Students will be taught online by leading ITS experts and have access to a wider network of professionals who can give advice and share knowledge and experiences with one another.
Understanding local needs
The online training is also supported by hands-on training events which are being organised in seven European cities over the next 18 months. Other training pilots will be held in cities in Croatia, UK, Netherlands, Greece and Belgium. These face-to-face training events, often held in the local language, are an important way for us to get live feedback from our target C-ITS community members. By better understanding the local needs, we can adapt training sessions to ensure that the courses are as bespoke as possible. In Turin, for instance, we shared best practices for C-ITS deployment with local, regional and even national level public actors – including representatives of the Italian Ministry for Transport. In parallel to these training events we are also organising demonstrations where end users and commercial operators can see (C)-ITS services live in action and learn how to deploy them in their area.
Sharing best practices
Another tool we are developing is an ITS Handbook, which specialises in deployment transferability. This will be made available, both online and in print, to provide decision makers with easy access to reliable, understandable and coherent information. The handbook will contain detailed, structured descriptions of best practices for ITS and C-ITS deployment that have already been implemented across Europe, covering governance, business models, technology and maintenance, stakeholder involvement and financing aspects. The easy-to-use guide will list the different stakeholders describing their involvement in technical or strategic issues, intentions, expectations and concerns.
Community at the forefront
Training and education aside, our core activity is the development and growth of an ITS community where people can share their knowledge and experience with others to foster the uptake, development and deployment of ITS services. We strongly believe a community founded on collaboration will play an important and beneficial role in increasing ITS and C-ITS deployment, making sure these services answer to the needs and requirements of everyone as we move towards cleaner, safer and more efficient mobility. CAPITAL wants this self-sustaining collaborative capacity-building C-ITS community to live on beyond the project lifecycle.
Manuela Flachi is a Project Manager at ERTICO-ITS Europe where she has gained extensive experience in European projects deploying ITS. She is part of the innovation and deployment team currently involved in activities linked to freight transport and logistics, as well as the deployment of ITS and C-ITS on large and small scales. She is dedicated to creating an educational framework for improving professional skills in the ITS field.