The government plans to raise the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) construction ratio to more than 25 percent of the nation's roads, a senior ministry official said.
Noting that inter-city roads are seriously insufficient compared with the nation's key road networks such as expressways and national roads, Doh Tae-ho, general director of the Road Policy Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs (MLTM) said, "The ministry will strengthen its support for construction of ITS for inter-city roads this year."
In an interview with the Korea IT Times, Doh said, "If the network of traffic information between expressways and national roads and between national roads and inter-city roads is realized smoothly through the advanced transport system, we can maximize ITS-using effects, including easing of traffic congestion, improvement of road use efficiency and traffic demand management.
"After all, raising the ITS construction ratio will greatly contribute to realizing low carbon green transportation in the near future," said the general director.
"Along with this, the ministry is making a strong push for next-generation ITS new technology R&D, including 'Smart Highway' and 'U-transportation' in order to jack up the nation's ITS-related technology level to that of advanced countries," Doh noted.
He continued to say, "At the same time, we will persistently carry out study for standardization and intellectualization of unit ITS equipment, including Variable Message Signs (VMS) and traffic lights."
Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) refers to information and communication technology applied to transport infrastructure and vehicles that improve transport outcomes such as transport safety, transport productivity, travel reliability, informed travel choices, social equity, environmental performance and network operation resilience.
"In a nutshell, ITS is the future-oriented smart transport system, which automatizes traffic operation and management and improves efficiency and safety of transportation by grafting advanced IT technology and traffic information onto traffic means such as roads and cars and traffic facilities," he explained.
Interest in ITS comes from the problems caused by traffic congestion and a synergy of new information technology for simulation, real-time control, and communications networks. Traffic congestion has been increasing worldwide as a result of increased motorization, urbanization, population growth, and changes in population density. Congestion reduces efficiency of transportation infrastructure and increases travel time, air pollution, and fuel consumption.
"Accordingly, all countries in the world exert efforts to reduce traffic congestion by introducing advanced transport system," he commented.
Noting that the scope of ITS application and the possibility of its development are limitless, Doh said, "In this present stage, the ministry plans to ease traffic congestion and increase efficiency of road use through collection and offering of real-time traffic information."
Korea started to build the ITS in the latter half of the 1990s. As of the end of 2010, the advanced transport system were built for a total of 9,764 km roads across the country, including 3,776 km expressways (100 percent), 2,552 km general national roads (19 percent) and 3,436 km inter-city roads (7 percent). A total of 50 traffic information centers are in operation in the country at present.
"Considering that ITS was built for 11.7 percent of a total of 83,196 km paved roads in Korea, it is still insufficient compared with more than 30 percent in the comparable ratio for the neighboring advanced country, Japan," he said.
"However, the ITS construction is expected to gain further momentum in the future as a growing number of local governments are introducing the system at a rapid pace. For instance, about 40 local governments established the system over the past decade," said Doh.
The following is the main contents of the interview with Doh Tae-ho, general director of the Road Policy Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs.
Q: Would you make comments on expectation effects of ITS
A: First of all, we can expect social cost saving and improvement of traffic and logistics competitiveness by easing traffic congestion.
Through ITS, we can offer information on real-time traffic situation and roundabout routes and ease concentration of traffic volume, enhancing the use efficiency of existing roads and increasing the processing capacity eventually.
According to Samsung Economic Research Institute, if ITS is applied to all roads across the country, Korea can save 11.8 trillion won in social costs by reducing confusion and accident costs and logistics expenditures. At present, Korea spends some 39 trillion won for road congestion and accident costs.
Doh also said, "ITS is greatly contributing to low carbon green transport system by reducing unnecessary fuel consumption and CO2."
According to Korea Transport Institute, ITS construction for 1,000 km national roads brings about some 8.26 million liter fuel reduction and 18,828 tons of CO2 reduction annually.
Q: Do you have any plan to export Korean-type ITS
A: The global ITS market is expected to rapidly grow by 9 percent annually, reaching $20 billion in 2015. In particular, as the ITS markets in developing countries are showing a high growth of 15 percent per annum, we need to make doubled efforts to preoccupy the ITS markets.
In 2008, domestic companies received $100 million orders for ITS projects from Azerbaijan and Mongolia. The Seoul government also designated ITS as new growth engine in 2009, actively supporting domestic companies' exports of ITS to developing countries in such regions as Latin America, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and CIS.
Thanks to such efforts, domestic companies won the $300 million order from Colombia to build the traffic card and bus management system (BMS) in Bogota in August this year.
Vietnam and Kazakhstan are also reportedly propelling the introduction of Korean-type ITS after recognizing the superiority of the intelligent transport system.
To activate domestic firms' exports of ITS, the ministry will launch the private-government export supporting team jointly with KOTRA, ITS Korea, and domestic ITS companies and hold ITS export road shows twice a year regularly.
At the same time, the ministry will actively support domestic ITS exporters through MOU conclusions with foreign countries, sharing of information on foreign orders for ITS, tailor-made ITS PR activities, and setup of effective marketing strategies.