What is ITS?

There is no single accepted definition of ITS, or telematics (two-way communication between the vehicle and the outside world), in part because the discipline is still young and evolving.

Basically, ITS is a combination of electronics, telecommunications and information technology to the transportation sector for improving safety and travel times on the transportation system. It is not highways only, but includes all modes of transportation.

The concepts included within ITS also are evolving, although there are now a number of them established that are giving definition to the discipline.

One definition of ITS was adopted in 1998 by the Intelligent Transportation Society of America for communicating the ITS concept to the general public. It reads: People using technology in transportation to save lives, time and money.

The U.S. DOT's ITS Joint Program Office circulated a more formal definition in April 1999. It reads: Intelligent Transportation systems collect, store, process and distribute information relating to the movement of people and goods. Examples include systems for traffic management, public transportation management, emergency management, traveler information, advanced vehicle control and safety, commercial vehicle operations, electronic payment and railroad grade crossing safety.