Leading global standards organizations ISO and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) have announced the creation of a partnership in the burgeoning field of intelligent transport systems (ITS) to hasten the deployment of ITS products and services.

Industry experts who gathered for the recent Fully Networked Car event organized by ITU, ISO and their partner, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), at the Geneva Motor Show agreed that the next 20 years will see a huge shift towards ITS.

Today’s communications capabilities give the potential for vehicles to foresee and avoid collisions, navigate the quickest route to their destination, make use of up-to-the-minute traffic reports, identify the nearest available parking slot, minimize their carbon emissions and provide multimedia communications.

But while considerable resources have been invested in R&D, the lack of global standards is widely regarded as a major impediment to large scale deployment of ITS services and applications.

The involvement of international standards bodies is seen as critical to easing bottlenecks partly resulting from poor communication between overlapping sectors: automotive, ITS players, telecoms suppliers and operators. The new Joint Task Force for ITS Communications will engineer better collaboration between these sectors and pool resources within ITU and ISO, linking existing work and avoiding duplication.

ITU and ISO both have a long history of work in ITS, and have maintained long-standing cooperation on the creation of standards in the field. The new agreement cements this relationship, allowing for greater coordination of their work programmes and harmonization of all outputs.

“The value of the solutions proposed is magnified when they are globally relevant. In this, customers of International Standards care most about the benefits that implementing International Standards provide and industry should not and will not wait while standards organizations fight amongst themselves, compete or try to decide who will develop that standard. They want to be listened to and have their needs for International Standard solutions met."

The ITU Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun Touré, said: “There is a will from manufacturers to implement these technologies, but as yet there has been no real breakthrough in terms of the technical standards needed to roll this out on a global scale. Vehicle manufacturers do not want to create different versions of this technology for every different market. They do not want regional or national standards. They want global standards, and through this initiative ITU and ISO are proving that we are willing and able to provide them.”

Within ISO, the focus for ITS is technical committee ISO/204, which has far developed 115 standards for the sector. Twenty-six countries participate in its work while another 24 have observer status. The scope of its work covers standardization of information, communication and control systems in the field of urban and rural surface transportation, including intermodal and multimodal aspects, traveller information, traffic management, public transport, commercial transport, emergency services and commercial services.