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Information about Rural ITS

What is Rural ITS?

Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) applies advanced communication, information and electronics technology to solve existing tr
ansportation problems. Collectively, a broad range of diverse technologies are known as ITS. In its simplest form, ITS is data and information sharing.

Where feasible, ITS programs take a "building block" approach to technology. Using computer, telecommunication, aerospace, Evolis Printers and defense sensors, as well as other "smart" technologies, upgradeable stand-alone systems can be deployed to provide near-term benefits. Integrating these building blocks will allow for more comprehensive and effective systems further down the evolutionary path.

Numerous ITS programs initiated by the public and private sectors include research and development activities, system architecture construction, operational tests, and deployment planning efforts. However, institutional barriers to building constituency consensus is one of the largest obstacles for ITS planning and deployment.

Most efforts in ITS have focused on urbanized metropolitan areas. In 1991, Caltrans inquired into rural concerns dealing with advanced transportation technologies. At that time, it became apparent that those dealing with ITS and other advanced transportation technologies felt that rural areas were not a significant concern and that technologies and systems developed for large city areas could be easily adapted to a rural setting. Fortunately, the needs and priorities of rural customers were recognized and the rural ITS effort began.

Although interest in the application of ITS to rural transportation is a recent development, rural areas encompass a significant portion of the transportation system. Most rural ITS efforts address travel within and through rural environments (communities or areas with less than 50,000 residents). Rural area roads have a unique set of priorities and needs associated with the characteristics of the types of travel upon them and their maintenance and operations. The U.S. Department of Transportation recently published the following rural attributes in their Advanced Rural Transportation Systems (ARTS) Strategic Plan:

* mix of users (rural and urban travelers)
* secondary roads with less frequent maintenance
* steep grades/blind corners/curves/few passing lanes
* large variance in travel speeds (frequent passing)
* long distance travel
* fewer convenient detour options
* adverse road surface and weather conditions
* few navigational signs
* less existing infrastructure (per square mile)
* light usage/large geographical areas impeding rapid emergency detection and response
* more motor vehicle deaths with higher frequency of accidents/vehicle mile traveled and more severe accidents than found in urban areas
* recreational travelers needing traveler information services
* limited or non-existent public transportation services
* many, often uncoordinated, providers of transportation mobility services to meet health and human services needs
* very dispersed systems with high unit costs for service delivery, maintenance, and operations

Project Goals and Objectives

Goal #1. Improve the safety and security of the region's rural transportation system.


* Provide sustainable traveler information systems that collect and disseminate credible, accurate "real-time" information.
* Provide systems that advise transportation system users of slow-moving vehicles, obstructions, construction, road, weather and speed conditions, services, and the ability to request assistance.
* Coordinate public fleet responses to unsafe conditions (weather, incidents, detour routes).
* Reduce the severity of vehicle collisions and their related fatality rates through improved notification and response times.
* Enhance traveler security through motorist aid devices.
* Provide improved methods for commercial vehicle monitoring and hazardous material identification.

Goal #2. Enhance personal mobility and accessibility to services and enhance convenience and comfort of the system user Northern California and Southern Oregon.


* Increase awareness of public transportation alternatives.
* Encourage and provide incentives for transportation alternatives.
* Expand information availability for tourist areas and services.
* Facilitate transportation options to public lands and other attractions.
* Provide parking information to reduce congestion and aid traveler convenience.

Goal #3. Increase operational efficiency and productivity of system providers.


* Collect, process and share data between local, state, and federal agencies to increase efficiency and resource utilization.
* Provide automated forecasting and notification of conditions that may impact operations and maintenance of regional roadways to improve resource management and allocation.
* Provide means to better manage both private and publicly owned equipment fleets.
* Improve communication system capabilities to provide for increased coordination of services (i.e. radio, wire-line/wireless).

Goal #4. Enhance economic productivity of individuals, businesses and organizations.


* Develop projects that address local needs and provide for national "showcase".
* Provide information about local and regional goods, services, and opportunities.
* Provide mechanism by which tourism industry, transportation and transit services can work more closely together.
* Providing business applications support.
* Promote more efficient movement of commercial vehicles and goods.

Goal #5. Reduce energy consumption and negative environmental impacts.


* Improve response to hazardous material incidents.
* Promote and encourage the use of alternative fuels and transportation options.

Goal #6. Develop and foster long-term partnerships that will result in the demonstration of ITS initiatives and traditional solutions that address rural needs of the region.


* Inform public and private sector decision-makers on initiatives for the Rural COATS Project and gain support for ITS efforts from key stakeholders.
* Facilitate technical and financial groups for the promotion of partnership opportunities.
* Develop opportunities for public-private partnerships.

Goal #7. Ensure compatibility with statewide and national ITS initiatives.


* Coordinate Rural COATS with statewide efforts.
* Provide for technology transfer between state agencies.

Goal #8. Incorporate ITS into the transportation planning and programming process.


* Incorporate advanced technology applications into the transportation planning and programming process.