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Specification versus solutions -- can the ITS industry find a middle ground?

It could be argued that traditionally, the ITS industry has always been specification-led, and here at Clearview Traffic we've been looking at this.

This approach, understandably borne from the historic and technical development of products, has allowed us to benefit from a robust product range and the establishment of good operating and safety standards. Our intelligent transport systems rely on specification and solutions in tandem.

With this history in mind, coupled with the various ways the Government has approached it’s purchasing of ITS requirements over the years, it is easy to see how the industry still mainly operates on a specification and cost-led approach to buying ITS.

But is now the time to challenge this thinking? We believe it may well be, and as leading provider of road safety solutions, traffic data collection, and intelligent road studs to name but a few of our innovative combinations of specification and solution working together, let’s look more closely.

As technology advances and as the industry develops and matures, we now have a greater than ever opportunity to change to a solutions and innovation-led approach for the provision of ITS.

Of course, we are realistic to know that there is not going to be a dramatic jump to innovative solution requests overnight, but can the industry find a middle ground where there is some room to innovate and move away from the current specification-led purchasing systems?

There are others thinking in this way, and the intelligent transport system industry is changing.

Last year industry leaders set up the Transport Technology Forum to stimulate investment and innovation in the technologies used on UK transport networks, and to achieve a coordinated, collaborative approach to their adoption and deployment.

Clearview actively participates in and encourages the work of the forum. And we see some customers taking the plunge and reaping the rewards – but they are in the minority right now.

Through technology, we know that the world is able to be more and more integrated in the way it works. In the 21st century ITS should be all about this opportunity.

But the buying process is still geared around specification-led ideas. So all too often, we’re confining ourselves to buying just what we’ve always bought, and getting the same results we’ve always got.

This puts a brake on the amount of innovation that can be applied. We’ve got to release this brake.

We talk a lot of Smart Cities and of ITS and how these will be of immeasurable help to everyone in the future, but as an industry we need to challenge ourselves to innovate and create advanced solutions for the problems we face today and not wait for the holy grail.

Yes, there are funding schemes available for innovation and R&D work (but these are changing and getting harder to find!) and yes there are some forward thinking engineers out there.

But, we at Clearview believe that the ITS industry as a whole is still not thinking in an innovation way.

We do not believe that we can let time be the resolution to this challenge. We should not wait for change to happen and specifications to slowly change to solution requests.

We, as an industry should be prepared to force the pace a little.

We should dare to experiment and to push the boundaries of technology by approaching schemes with no pre-conceived ideas or judgement and encourage closer collaboration between public and private sector to inject some innovative ideas from the start.

It’s time to turn the problem on its head and ask if are there better or more cost-effective ways to achieve the same or better results.

If you find collaborative partners you can trust and you work closely together, it doesn’t have to be risky and the outcomes for the public can be staggering. This is our idea of great ITS.

Does this challenge apply to you? Do you have any schemes that you think need something more? Why not get in touch to explore what is possible and start that journey with us – get in touch

Author: Andrew R |Date Published: March 2016

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