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Intelligent Transportation Systems

If you drive in northeastern Illinois, chances are that you take advantage of I-Pass to avoid toll plaza delays. The 2009 Illinois Tollway annual report informs us that there are over 3.8 million transponders in circulation. Millions of drivers are using this popular technology to reach their destinations more quickly and safely each day. I-Pass is a prominent example of ITS, or Intelligent Transportation Systems.

CMAP promotes the use of ITS, including a wide range of technologies that improve the movement of people and goods. The goal of ITS deployment is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the transportation system through such actions as increasing traveler safety and reducing congestion. These tools improve the operations and management of our existing transportation facilities. 

Northeastern Illinois has been a leader in ITS applications for decades, and CMAP's Advanced Technology Task Force (ATTF) is a strong advocate for ITS applications. The task force has prepared a number of useful resources (see below).

Regional Data Archiving System

A regional data archiving system was included as a part of the regional ITS architecture. Such a system would provide a way to store a variety of real-time information collected continuously throughout the region. The archive would provide a central location for many agencies to access information across agency boundaries when needed for operational decisions or planning purposes. A study titled Regional Data Archiving and Management for Northeast Illinois, sponsored by the Illinois Tollway and the Illinois Department of Transportation was completed in 2008. The study investigated some of the available data and storage/retrieval solutions.Collection and dissemination of regional data is a core mission for the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. Therefore, the next step which includes design and implementation of the data archiving system, will be undertaken by CMAP.

Regional ITS Architecture Web

The Northeastern Illinois Regional ITS Architecture is a roadmap for intelligent transportation systems integration in the seven-county (Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will and a portion of Grundy) Northeastern Illinois region over the next 15 years. The architecture has been developed through a cooperative effort by the region's transportation agencies, covering all modes and all roads in the region. The architecture represents a shared vision of how each agency's systems will work together in the future, sharing information and resources to provide a safer, more efficient, and more effective transportation system for travelers in the region. The architecture is an important tool that is intended to be used by:

  • Planning agencies to better reflect integration opportunities and operational needs into the transportation planning process.
  • Operating agencies to recognize and plan for transportation integration opportunities in the region.
  • Other organizations and individuals that use the transportation system in the Northeastern Illinois region.

The architecture provides an overarching framework that spans all of these organizations and individual transportation projects. Using the architecture, each transportation project can be viewed as an element of the overall intelligent transportation system, providing visibility into the relationship between individual ITS projects and ways to cost-effectively build an integrated transportation system over time.

ITS Architecture 2007-2008 Update

Regional ITS Plan

Legacy Regional ITS Architecture

  • 2002 Regional Architecture. A shared vision of how each agency's ITS deployments will work together over the next 15 years, sharing information and resources to improve the region's transportation system.
  • Change Request Form (DOC, 67 KB). A form to submit when requesting a change to the regional architecture.
  • Summary of Regional Architecture (PDF, 181 KB). A four-page overview of the regional architecture in northeastern Illinois.

Examples of ITS

One key element of ITS is the ability to monitor and respond to actual conditions on the transportation system in real time. This performance-based approach allows operators to use the real-time information to identify, respond to and mitigate non-recurring events (such as crashes or weather) that significantly affect the quality of service offered by the system. It also provides the information to travelers that they need to make effective choices, such as time, mode and route of travel. Frequently-encountered examples of ITS projects include:

  • I-Pass and open road tolling
  • Ventra, an electronic fare collection system used by the CTA, providing faster, cheaper, and more convenient transportation to transit riders
  • RTA trip planner provides riders with personalized directions that may utilize both Metra and CTA services, thereby helping web-savvy users get from point A to point B more efficiently and quickly
  • Lake Michigan Interstate Gateway Alliance real time information system, providing data and travel information to analysts and the traveling public
  • Lake County Passage which provides commuters with real time information on road construction, traffic accident, incidents, and other conditions affecting travel in Lake County.
  • Navteq's traffic.com is a real-time traffic information center with interactive maps and "jam factor" alerts, much of the information resulting from roadside sensors on the system -- which are also ITS projects.
  • Pace's Intelligent Bus System and the CTA's Bus Tracker, and Train Tracker feature AVL/GPS on every vehicle, Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) and Schedule/Route Adherence (SRA) information dissemination. This information will soon be available via the Web Watch Project, allowing riders to monitor bus arrivals.
  • Actuated traffic signals that change according whether cars are waiting to proceed.
  • Traffic signals interconnect that allows traffic signals to communicate with each other and manage traffic better.
  • Ramp meters: green and red lights that control how many people access the expressway based on traffic on the expressway.
  • Traffic signals with emergency vehicle pre-emption: they turn green to let police, fire and ambulances through the intersections to get help to where it is needed more quickly.
  • Intersection red-light running cameras to ticket drivers who run red lights and to make intersections safer.
  • Amber alert system (opens PDF) puts messages on variable message screens along highways.
  • Message signs on the expressways that indicate current travel time conditions, public safety messages, incidents, construction, etc.
  • Reversible lanes equipped with automated lane management technologies, including traffic sensors and lane control signs.
  • Automated stop announcements on transit vehicles such as CTA/Pace buses and Metra trains.
  • Rail station signs that display automated traveler information (schedule and system information).
  • Video surveillance on transit vehicles to enhance security.
  • Closed circuit television cameras that help agencies monitor traffic conditions and detect accidents.
  • Automatic alerts about the transportation system from IDOT, Pace, CTA, Metra and the Illinois Tollway are sent to pagers, PDAs, and email.
  • Detector-based animation documentation.
  • Communications infrastructure which allows this all to work.
  • Traffic management centers (IDOT, Lake County, Illinois Tollway), central locations where system operators can monitor and respond to traffic conditions.

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