Building Today’s and Tomorrow’s Intelligent Transportation Systems

The Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) space is experiencing a step change, driven by the proliferation of connected devices and before we know it connected vehicles, changing expectations of today’s tech-savvy travelers, and facilitated by widespread availability of IP connectivity. While there’s little doubt that ITS technologies are poised to transform the entire transportation industry, the network infrastructure of transport systems must begin to further evolve to meet the needs of today’s connected travelers and their sophisticated vehicles. Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE) offers a portfolio of enterprise-grade, future-forward networking solutions for hardened Ethernet/IP environments that enable transportation authorities to meet today’s ITS requirements, while scaling for tomorrow’s as well.

Addressing the challenges and opportunities of digital transformation

The effects of digital transformation are sweeping through virtually every industry, bringing with them a set of innovations that promise to rapidly change nearly every business process. These technologies are creating a world where everything connects, and roadways, bridges, intersections, and commuter systems are no exception. Digital technologies have already rapidly changed the transportation industry, enabling vehicles to become smarter and more autonomous and transforming the way vehicles operate and drivers communicate. Smart vehicles will require smart roads. A burgeoning increase in the sheer number of connected devices (sensors, cameras, vehicles, and personal technologies) is challenging networks to keep pace, while a growing number of vehicles is causing congestion on roads and making daily travel hard or impossible, negatively impacting the environment, and degrading the traveler experience.

For transportation departments, these trends are resulting in a variety of challenges. They are tasked with responding to the ever-changing demands of an increasingly connected public, who expect to stream music while they’re driving, use web or GPS applications for navigation, or allow their children to watch movies online. These are the readily visible applications that are complemented by a not-as-well-recognized plethora of emerging applications that are “under the hood” so to speak. What’s not visible is even more important than what is because it has to do with predictability and safety. Just as lives depend on sophisticated safety features in vehicles and on roadways, they are more and more relying on reliable transmission of information by the roads and by the automobiles themselves. Transportation leaders struggle to implement wired and wireless networks that can support the communications and data that they will need to act upon to reduce vehicle congestion, monitor and respond to incidents, and otherwise ensure smooth and efficient operations. Many ITS organizations are having to quickly reeducate themselves and shift from a traditional signaling and signage orientation to an ever-increasingly IT-based approach, and they struggle to choose the products and technologies that will accommodate the explosion of IoT devices and the advent of connected vehicles.

Future-forward network infrastructure for demanding ITS applications

As the requirements and capabilities of ITS networks continue to expand and grow in complexity, the entry-level networking products that were considered “good enough” in the past are quickly becoming insufficient to carry us into the future. ALE provides a range of products for building out a hardened, scalable, and secure Ethernet/IP infrastructure with the capacity and features to handle the most demanding ITS applications.

These solutions offer a number of key customer benefits:
Increased safety and security – Technology that speeds the delivery of insight into traffic flows, road conditions, incidents, construction, and sudden weather changes helps authorities make smarter decisions and quickly relay useful information to travelers so they can prepare for the conditions ahead.
Enhanced traveler experience – Finding fast, simple, and secure ways to connect IoT devices to the network enables transportation authorities to focus on more efficiently managing network bandwidth, distribute updates to mobile apps and social media platforms in real-time, and meet the expectations of modern travelers.
Improved operational performance – Centralized provisioning and automated deployment enable operational personnel to deploy and manage their networks more quickly, while Power over Ethernet (PoE) securely connects devices in harsh environments and hard-to-reach areas.
Reduced congestion and energy use – An optimal network infrastructure allows transportation departments to scale resources according to demand, so they can continue to operate efficiently even during peak demand times like rush hour.

ALE’s hardened switch portfolio brings together a unique mix of intelligent network components and sophisticated capabilities in a ruggedized form factor that can be deployed in a variety of different applications and use cases. The backbone of this portfolio is the OmniSwitch 6865 Hardened Ethernet Switch, an industrial-grade, highly secure, intelligent switch which delivers superior performance for mission-critical applications running in harsh environments and extreme temperatures. With an optimized feature set offering high security, reliability, performance, and easy management, the switch also comes in a stackable, half-rack form factor which optimizes space. It is also the only switch in the world that is both environmentally hardened and supports industry-standard IEEE 802.1aq Shortest Path Bridging (SPB). The OmniSwitch 6860E and OmniSwitch 6900 Stackable LAN Switches are compact, high-density switch products designed to evolve existing networks to handle video and new applications supporting IoT from access to the core. All ALE switches also incorporate an end-to-end, multi-layered security strategy that is built right into the equipment as well as the code.

ALE leading the charge to tomorrow’s ITS systems

At ALE, we pride ourselves on having a finger on the pulse of today’s transportation industry. A high level of industry expertise bolsters our end-to-end enterprise portfolio of network switching products, which include not only hardened switches for edge environments, but also switches suitable for both the distribution layer and the core layer of the network architecture, all with integrated management platforms so they can be cohesively and seamlessly managed. Our years of experience consulting with innovators in various roles within ITS organizations and track record of success building custom solutions to suit specific needs means our customer engagements evolve into true partnerships. ALE’s differentiated products and solutions deliver increased customer value by offering a unique feature set, including SPB, High PoE, and Precision Time Protocol (PTP), which all serve to increase the performance, resilience, and use of the customer’s network.

The Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) recently made a strategic investment in ALE technology to build a hardened ITS network for delivering real-time road, traffic, and weather information to the travelers on their 5,400 miles of highway. ALE’s design and engineering team delivered a comprehensive solution consisting of the Alcatel-Lucent OmniSwitch 6860E and OmniSwitch 6900 Stackable LAN Switches in the Core and Distribution Layers of the network, and the OmniSwitch 6865 Hardened LAN Switch on the edge, which offered the benefits of a hardened switch while supporting end-to-end SPB, a key requirement for NDOT. These hundreds of switches formed the backbone of NDOT’s network, enabling them to support future technologies, remotely manage the network, and provide up-to-date information for travelers.

ALE’s portfolio of secure, enterprise-grade network infrastructure products, including the new addition to its family of hardened switches, the OmniSwitch 6465, will be on display at the upcoming 2018 ITS Annual Meeting, which will be held in Detroit from June 4-7th. At the event, ALE will be demonstrating the capabilities of their hardened switch portfolio, non-hardened switches, and OmniVista Management System. Be sure not to miss an ITS America Special Session entitled “Successes and Lessons Learned from Local ITS Projects, Part II” on Thursday, June 7th at 9:00 AM, which will highlight successful local ITS projects (including NDOT’s) and focus on key takeaways from these deployments.

As digital technologies continue to reshape the transportation landscape, it’s clear that entry-level infrastructure solutions that may have been sufficient up to now will not be sustainable in the future. ALE is providing future-forward networking components that are helping transportation customers connect transportation subsystems with technology that works, enabling all users of public transportation, public roads, and services to discover the transformative power of ITS. For more information, please connect with us on Twitter at @ALUEnterprise.