12 Apr 2006

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Dwindling public investment available for transport infrastructure construction coupled with legitimate societal aspirations for cleaner, safer and smoother traffic have underlined the need for new answers to the traditional challenges raised by increased demand for road transport.



The resulting shift by road operators towards a culture of network optimisation is at the heart of the exponential growth in the offer of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) applications. Usually conceived to overcome a specific problem, such as route guidance or tunnel safety operations, the implementation of ITS across Europe remains uneven and fragmented owing to insufficient stakeholder synergies and a poor understanding of the drivers behind road transport demand.

This paper will argue that Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), and singularly EGNOS and GALILEO, will provide the technological framework of reference to reduce the negative impact of road transport while at the same time offering new services to a myriad of users impacted by road transport. This paper will further argue that it is services to the user that will drive the demand for GNSS-based solutions and ultimately ensure GALILEO can truly become an enabler of European Transport Policy.

Characterisation of the European road sector

Road transport fulfils a major socio-economic role in the European Union, involving a wide range of stakeholders from vehicle manufacturers to infrastructure operators, researchers and service providers.

It could well be argued that the quality of Europe's road transport system constitutes one of the most decisive factors for the socio-economic integration of citizens living in an enlarged European Union now stretching from Portugal to Estonia.

To satisfy this role and meet the challenge of increased demand for personal mobility and freight transport, still growing at a healthy 4% rate a year in some parts of Europe, road operators have had to adapt, both through new road construction and by making an improved usage of existing infrastructure.

The resulting shift paves the way to new solutions to cope with some of the key concerns highlighted in the European Transport Policy White Paper:

  • Achieving a significant and lasting decrease in road accidents and deaths

    In the enlarged EU, over 43,000 motorists lose their lives every year. In addition to the human distress caused by road accidents, the direct and indirect costs of road accidents have been estimated at 2% of GDP. In its 3rd European Road Safety Action Programme, the Commission has reaffirmed the ambitious objective of halving these figures in 2010 - a target which requires a common understanding of all contributing factors and an increased focus on the potential offered by cooperative safety systems.

  • Identifying stable mechanisms of funding for road improvement

    In a context where public investment in transport infrastructure has dwindled to less than 1% of GDP, roads can no longer play their role of pillars of Europe's economic and social cohesion. As a case in point, only 3% of Polish roads currently meet the EU standards for maximum axle loads, with the result that international traffic is limited to a small portion of the network. The upgrade of these roads alone will cost Poland EUR 1 billion per year over the next 15 years. Replacing today's cumbersome and unfair road taxation with pay-per-use road charging is one way of ensuring stable mechanisms of investment in the road network.

  • Eradicating bottlenecks & curbing pollution

    Approximately 7,500 kilometres of Europe's major road arteries suffer congestion on a daily basis. Although the most affected areas are concentrated in a relatively pockets of Western Europe, virtually all the important cities are affected. The provision of real time traffic information is one of the most cost-effective value added services by allowing people to make informed route choices. The resulting congestion decrease can significantly contribute to energy savings and environmental protection.

    The GALILEO Programme

    GALILEO, and its forerunner EGNOS, is a European satellite positioning and navigation system designed specifically for civilian purposes. Its applications will spread into many areas of all our lives – starting with safe and efficient transport.

    The central component will be a global constellation of thirty satellites, distributed over three planes in Medium Earth Orbit designed to provide high level performances to users world-wide, even in places where there is no ground infrastructure.

    The programme is quickly becoming a reality. Available since 2005, the EGNOS service already provide levels of integrity required for safety-of-life applications. December 2005 marked the launch of GIOVE-A, the first test satellite with the full deployment of the system expected to take another 24-36 months. Thereafter, the satellite programme will be operated by a private consortium under the supervision of a public entity, the GALILEO Supervisory Authority.

    Once operational, GALILEO will offer differentiated navigation services, principally:

  • An Open Service, providing basic applications for the general public and services of general interest. As with civilian GPS, the Open Service will be free, but with improved quality and reliability,

  • A Safety of Life Service providing a warning to the user when certain thresholds of integrity are not met,

  • A Commercial Service facilitating the development of liability-critical applications offering guaranteed performance levels,

  • A Public Regulated Service for governmental applications that require a high continuity of service and controlled access.

    The key differentiators of GALILEO are service guarantee and signal integrity. It is important to understand that integrity is very different in nature from accuracy. Highly accurate systems do not necessarily prevent major errors from occurring with a certain probability and no notification to the user. When integrity is ensured, non-reported errors are guaranteed not to occur with an extremely high probability.

    Integrity is the basis for applications know as “liability-critical”, for instance applications linked to a commercial contract between two parties (e.g. road tolling) or usage of a legal nature (such as speed limit enforcement). In both cases, guaranteed integrity means that the positioning information can be used to resolve a commercial or legal dispute. As the case study demonstrates, key applications such as urban charging schemes require levels of integrity close to what is found in civil aviation or DNA testing.

    Road sector applications

    The road sector is one of the largest markets for GALILEO applications. By 2010 there will be more than 670 million cars, 33 million buses and trucks and 200 million light commercial vehicles worldwide. Satellite navigation receivers are now commonly installed in new cars and could equip 60% of the car fleet and 90% of trucks by 2020.

    The implications are significant, not just for the vast majority of motorists, but also for the private sector (freight & passenger transport, automotive sector, motorway operators, insurers, etc.) and public administrations (road & traffic authorities, city councils, transport planners, emergency services, law-enforcement agencies, etc.).

    GALILEO opens the door to many new applications while improving the services already provided via today's ITS-based solutions. The resulting applications can be broadly classified according to the signal integrity requirements and the category of end user.

  • - Advanced driver assistance - Pay per use insurance pricing
    - Taxi service pricing
    - Car rental pricing
    - Recovery after theft
    - Navigation services
    - Information for vulnerable road users
    - Fleet management
    - Passenger transport management
    End users
    - Emergency services management - Speed limit enforcement
    - On street parking pricing
    - Accident reconstruction
    - Traffic management
    - Road lighting management
    - Infrastructure management
    - Road research
    Road operators
    - Road user charging
    - Livestock tracking
    - Tracking of special vehicles

    - Traffic information
    - Transport on demand
    End users & road operators
    Safety-critical Liability-critical Non-liability critical