Q-Free opens its traffic control software to ITS industry

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In an unprecedented industry move, Norwegian tolling and intelligent transportation systems (ITS) supplier Q-Free has announced that it is openly sharing a key component of traffic signal control software to enable multi-vendor interoperability.

Intelight, the leading brand of Q-Free’s America Urban Solutions division has publicly released the MIBs (management information bases) to its award-winning MaxTime local traffic signal control software. MIBs provide a common language for central traffic management systems and local controller software to communicate with each other. For traffic signal operations, the MIBs are used to control traffic signals and other transportation management devices. While approximately half of the objects found in the MIBs for advanced transportation controllers (ATCs) have been standardized, the remaining objects are manufacturer specific. This severely limits interoperability between devices and systems from different vendors and impedes customers from choosing the best available products and systems from multiple vendors. Q-Free says sharing MIBs freely between manufacturers can alleviate these problems.

Intelight is the first supplier in the North American traffic signal control industry to openly share its MIBs, underscoring the company’s steadfast commitment to open standards as a means to benefit the traveling public. Openly sharing MIBs enables multi-vendor systems to work, giving Departments of Transportation (DOTs) the freedom to select the best solution for their needs and avoid being locked into a current vendor or paying integration fees. It also promotes fair and open competition, deterring price discrimination and preventing tax payers from overpaying for their transportation infrastructure.

In a market steeped in proprietary, manufacturer-defined solutions, Intelight says the move aims to foster an environment rich with innovation and collaboration; two crucial components in the ITS industry achieving its efficient urban transportation goals. The company is keen to promote the open communication standards that will be necessary to effectively connect vehicles and infrastructure to create smarter cities. The now-open MIBs are from Intelight’s Linux-based MaxTime local controller software platform that was built directly from the current National Transportation Communications for Intelligent Transportation System Protocol (NTCIP), The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA; including ATC 5201 draft) standards, as opposed to adapting older software to the newer standards.

“We hope other manufacturers will follow our lead,” said Morten Andersson, senior vice president for Q-Free America. “The transportation industry is evolving at an unprecedented pace because of gamechangers like ‘big data’, crowd sourcing, connected and driverless vehicles. It is now more important than ever for us to band together to ensure a safe, efficient, and sustainable transportation network built on innovation and cooperation.”

Back in its homeland, the five regional toll companies that operate in Norway have awarded Q-Free the national contract for automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) systems. The company’s Intrada Synergy Server ALPR service will be implemented as part of the new Norwegian toll charging system. The contract will last for five years and is planned to start this autumn. In addition to providing the ALPR service, Q-Free is also the chosen partner for manual image review systems and services. Combined these two contracts have a total value of approximately US$2.9m (NKr25m).

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Adam joined the company in 1994, and has been News Editor of TTT since 2009. In his other role as Circulation Manager, he helped create the original Traffic Technology International distribution list 23 years ago, and has been working on it ever since. Outside of work, he is a keen fisherman, runs a drumming band, and plays an ancient version of cricket.

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