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ITS Observatory

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ITS OBSERVATORY (ITS Observatory)

Reporting period: 2016-11-01 to 2017-10-31

ITS are often deployed piecemeal due to local & regional differences. In urban and inter-urban areas and along the Trans-European Transport corridors a range of ITS are operating. However, access to reliable, coherent and complete information is missing on what is deployed where, how effectively it works and what lessons were learned. ITS Observatory helps solve this problem by offering an easily accessible, comprehensive one-stop-shop for information and insight on ITS deployment in Europe. It is an open knowledge base for use by and for the ITS Community. Content providers (e.g. ITS owners, decision makers, managers & suppliers) upload information about their ITS implementations, describing the location and type of ITS, whom to contact for more information and summarising any evaluation results. Users can search the knowledge base using popular keywords.

The ITS Observatory offers decision makers, businesses and stakeholders access to timely and reliable facts on existing and ongoing ITS implementation in Europe, as well as links to the best available information on deployment outcomes (e.g. impacts & benefits) to help them develop and apply ITS policy objectives and strategies.

The main objectives of the project were:
1. To combat fragmentation of knowledge about ITS through the creation of a comprehensive data set on the “what”, “where” and “who” of European ITS;
2. To support ITS deployment by creating an user friendly knowledge base, to help users find and compare results of research, pilots, deployment projects;
3. To create an interactive information marketplace with features to help support a dynamic ITS community of public authorities, system owners and suppliers, service providers and users.

The ITS Observatory promotes ITS deployment by increasing the visibility to potential customers and to solutions offered by suppliers, showing their impacts and benefits for the public sector.
The Observatory collects and communicates lessons learnt from previous projects, and has made a business plan for sustainable operation after the project. For EU-funded projects it can help bridge the gap to wider exploitation by public and private sectors, thus adding value to the original investment.
In order to develop the first EU Observatory for ITS Deployment, the project Consortium led a number of stakeholder consultations through workshops, webinars, individual interviews and online surveys. The objective was to gather user requirements and build a panel of experts to regularly test and validate the different stages of technical development. A prototype was created following an agile approach including relevant technical and user validation processes. Meanwhile a content entry strategy was implemented, and an active content entry process was conducted with experts from the Network of ITS National Associations.

In particular during the second reporting period, the project Consortium focused efforts on recruiting potential users and customers by leading a large marketing campaign at the European ITS Congress in Strasbourg, June 2017. Thereafter, the process of testing and improving the platform internally and with external experts has continued. In parallel, the Consortium has built an effective operational plan for long-term viability and has found an operator to take over the ownership of the platform after the project ends.

As foreseen in the original plan presented in the Grant Agreement, exploitation activities were to be concentrated in the final period once the technical development was completed. The exploitation plan was executed mostly as planned, updated in the following principal ways:
• A new project final event was planned, and was organised during the ITS Europe Congress in Strasbourg, in June 2017;
• Virtual workshops were planned as online webinars;
• The Observatory was presented at several international events to key stakeholders expected to become active users;
• Market research was carried out with potential users and customers of the Observatory, to confirm the value proposition for them and a range of possible value-added features that might be a source of revenue
• A business development strategy was drafted, and a marketing strategy for implementing it
• An operational plan was defined for the transition period following the conclusion of the project, including key processes and analysis of ownership and governance options;
• A deployment map was prepared, detailing the steps needed to pass from the conclusion of a support action project to the start of sustainable operations as a successful platform for the ITS community online

The project has successfully created the first European Observatory for ITS deployment. The platform is functional and user-friendly with more than 126 organisations and 200 registered members in 2017. Moreover, the Observatory is conceived to become a market place and a reference in terms of reliable information on ITS for the entire ITS community.

The project has delivered the main features required to ensure the usability of the platform with a minimum volume of content available and has ensured an operator to take over the maintenance of the platform after the project ends. In addition, the Observatory has the possibility to become self-sufficient. The operational plan developed towards the end of the project shows how the platform could be exploit during the transitional year and beyond, and suggests additional features to be implemented after a market research is conducted.
An easily accessible EU-wide knowledge-base has been created, with initial content about ITS deployment, research & pilot projects and other information helpful to ITS decision-makers from all sectors. It offers links to related sources and to experts able to provide further info and advice.
The ITS Observatory platform does not directly compare results of research, pilot and deployment projects, however such functionality was not a high priority for users, who wanted access to current information and to experts for further questions. The platform features and content closely match the expressed needs from all sectors of the ITS community
Users did not express a wish for a free-standing decision-making tool, but rather an easy way to find out all the information necessary for finding the most appropriate ITS solutions for specific aims. This basic feature is already available, while enhanced features are planned to compile and match – based on proven effectiveness – currently available ITS solutions with the highest-priority objectives of both public-sector decision-makers and private-sector providers.
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