The European Commission has announced the adoption of new rules for Real-Time Traffic Information claimed to provide road users across the EU with more accurate, accessible and up-to-date traffic information.
The new rules require adoption of the DATEX II format or “any machine-readable format fully compatible and interoperable with DATEX II for such data as information about expected delays, estimated travel times, information about accidents, road works and road closures, warnings about weather conditions and any other relevant information”. Such information can be delivered to drivers through multiple channels, including variable message signs, radio traffic message channels, smartphones, and navigation devices.
The Commission claimed a market exists for Real-Time Traffic Information services, and the objective of the new rules is to make existing information services available to more users, facilitate the sharing of digital data, and foster the availability of more and accurate data.
Under the Commission Delegated Regulation of 18.12.2014 supplementing Directive 2010/40/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council with regard to the provision of EU-wide real-time traffic information services, road authorities and road operators shall provide the dynamic road status data they collect and update pursuant to Article 9 in DATEX II (CEN/TS 16157 and subsequently upgraded versions) format or any machine-readable format fully compatible and interoperable with DATEX II.
Objectives of the specifications
The Commission’s objectives for its specifications for Real-time Travel Information are to:
Make existing Real-Time Traffic Information services available to more users by increasing EU-wide interoperability and continuity of data and services (in combination with travel information services);
Increase the existence of (digital) data and its sharing, to decrease data fragmentation and make data more accessible and improve data quality;
Facilitate the availability of more and accurate data to enable better management of road infrastructure and traffic flows.
To improve the interoperability of the data, the specifications require that road status and traffic data are made accessible via national access points in a standardised format (DATEX II). The specifications also establish rules on data updates including timeliness of these updates.
The commission said the draft specifications have gone through extensive consultations with the experts nominated by the Member States and other public and private stakeholders.
The Commission consulted on proposed options for provision of a EU-wide real-time traffic information services under Directive 2010/40/EU (known as the "ITS Directive") from December 2013 to March 2014.
The results of which fed in into a cost-benefit analysis for a proposal of the Commission for specifications under Directive.
Accurate, reliable and content rich Real-Time Traffic Information services to improve accessibility and interoperability
The specifications will apply to the Trans-European road network and motorways not included in this network as well as to "priority zones" (especially interurban/urban busy roads) when national authorities voluntarily identify such zones. The specifications do not make the deployment of Real-Time Traffic Information services obligatory. However, when these services are already deployed in a Member State or will be deployed after the date of application of the delegated regulation, the specifications will have to be followed.
The specifications foresee that each Member State sets up a national access point (single window) for the exchange of data.
Now that the specifications have been adopted, they will be transmitted to the Council and the European Parliament for their right of scrutiny. The Delegated Regulation will apply from 24 months after its entry into force.
The DATEX II specifications are maintained currently by a stakeholder organisation that has been created under the EasyWay programme (www.easyway-its.eu). Inside EasyWay, DATEX II is included in a set of European Studies (ES), that deal with pan-European consensus forming and harmonization. DATEX II is covered by European Study 5, currently chaired by Germany.
UK Traffic information RSS feeds
Although not applicable for live data for use when travelling but for information distribution for use in advance, The UK Highways Agency publishes limited traffic information about incidents on the Highways Agency network via RSS feeds.
These feeds contain all current and future planned events for for all latest unplanned traffic events on the network or narrowed slightly by broad regions and most important roads. It therefore offers quite limited value as local information is not provided (for use in apps, embedded in web services etc.).
From 8 December 2014 the agency stated it will trial a change to the publication of both planned and current road works information to improve its accuracy and reliability, apparently by limiting the range of information provided.
The trial is planned to be completed at the end of March 2015, and the findings together with customer feedback, will be used, the Highways Agency states, to inform future changes.