In the past ten years, use of the Internet has grown exponentially. For travelers, a variety of information sources are available. They can collect driving instructions, weather and road conditions, maps and tourism information from a set of sources that grows every day with new public and private sector agencies offering traveler information.
One issue that the traveler had faced was the increasing difficulty of efficiently collecting and easily interpreting information that comes from many independent sources. Because the sites are independently developed, each reflects the preferences of different designers and Internet developers. The result is different site characteristics that may make gathering information more difficult than necessary, including:
- The emphasis of each site may be different, such as tourism, promotion of local facilities, safety, road and weather information;
- the “look and feel” of the each site is relatively unique (e.g., different icons and navigation controls); and
- there are no logical links to sites for adjacent jurisdictions making cross boundary navigation difficult.
These problems increased in severity as more sites came on-line, and as the availability of remote and personal ‘Internet’ style applications, such as personal digital assistants and cellular phones with wireless Internet, increased..
ENTERPRISE has always demonstrated a strong interest in leading the development of traveler information systems standards. Early work on ITIS formed the basis of an ongoing role on the SAE ATIS Standards Committee (Stephen Erwin representing ENTERPRISE and AASHTO).
Another ENTEPRISE project (Internet Applications) addressed the consistency and navigation issues by identifying and recommending Internet common specifications. Specifically, this project has:
- made logical links to sites for adjacent jurisdictions making cross boundary navigation easier.
- developed an open architecture that defines the interaction and linking of Internet information dissemination tools developed by different jurisdictions; and
- established guidelines for data exchange over the Internet in a variety of formats including graphical, tabular and text.
The Internet Applications project, however, stopped short of the mark. In order for the results of the project to be successful they must be accepted by the developers of ITS Internet applications (public sector jurisdictions and private information service providers (ISP)) and to the Standards Development Organizations (SDO).
Only through their acceptance can a common format for data exchange and display on the Internet be achieved. The commercial information providers are very much interested in this standardization. They seek ways to be able to collect and share information more easily. Through common specifications, the public sector is also able to more easily disseminate information. Common specifications have allowed for wider dissemination, and more users who are able to interpret and process data.
This project promotes the common specification recommendations developed in the ongoing ITS Internet Applications project. It has built consensus and support among key public and private sector ITS Internet developers.
The goal of ATIS Internet Guidelines Demonstration and Outreach was accomplished through three tasks. These tasks include development of a demonstration web site, promoting common specification to SDOs and involving Internet developers in the process of defining common specifications.
Task 1. Complete development of the Demonstration Web site
The consultant used the existing travelerinformation.com web site as a demonstration web site. They developed sample web pages that followed the common specifications recommended during the ITS Internet Applications project. The sample pages provided a wide range of examples of text, graphical icons, mapping and tabular information. They demonstrated applications for rural and urban areas, as well as various weather conditions.
The demonstration web site also includes creating functional, organizational and logical navigational tools for developing and linking related web sites and those for geographically adjoining areas.
The site is intended as an example for Internet developers. It also serves as a point of discussion, helping developers identify problem areas and issues that may require further development of common specifications.
Task 2. Involve Internet Developers
The consultant hosted a workshop for both public and private sector agencies to discuss the needs for standardization and the existing common specifications. This workshop followed the demonstration web site and used that site’s examples as a starting point for discussion.
The workshop was also used to disseminate proposed guidelines and provide support to Internet developers. At the end of the workshop, a letter to the appropriate SDOs was drafted and the developers signed it to express interest in the issue of ITS Internet standards being adopted and formally adopted by the SDOs.
Task 3. Promote Common specification to SDOs
The consultant involved the SDOs and made a presentation on behalf of ENTERPRISE. The purpose of this presentation was to have the SDOs consider incorporating ITS Internet standards into their work. The presentation described the current needs for common specifications, including examples of good and poor traveler information exchange on the Internet. It presented the list of agencies interested in ITS Internet standards to the SDOs.