What does OTS stand for?

  • OTS stands for Open Traffic Systems, is a trademark of the OCA and derived from the name of the OCA.
  • OTS provides systems for traffic routing, traffic control and traffic management in form of distributed systems that consist of subsystems with different life cycles and that communicate via certified communication modules.

  • In terms of OTS, communication is a strategic element in the future oriented design of mixed-age system environments.
  • OTS requires that independent suppliers must be capable to deliver subsystems on the basis of specifications and certified communications modules.
  • OTS provides a framework that supports these issues.

  • OTS is not just an interface specification, but an overall concept that keeps alive this framework.

  • OTS is not a counterpoint to OCIT, but OCIT® is an integral component of OTS in the scope of traffic signal controlling.

OTS has its roots in OCIT

Already in the 90s, public authorities and operators have been confronted more and more with demands of audit offices, funding agencies or other stakeholders to provide conditions for traffic signal control systems under which the purchase of traffic signal control systems with the aim of competition and thus reduction of prices is possible.

In a first reaction, responsible people for the procurement have set up their own, city-specific standards. Examples are the BEFA-15 derivatives (Hannover, Nuremberg), TELIS (Regensburg) and VNetS (Munich). These interface standards were designed to break down the usual monolithic traffic signal control systems such that central and control devices could be declared as separate lots in the subject of public procurements under competitive conditions. This resulted in vendor mixed systems.

For manufacturers, however, the city-specific standards were not associated with a manageable cost risks. Therefore, they have launched the OCIT® Initiative in 1999 (OCIT® stands for Open Communication Interface for Traffic Systems, see www.ocit.org). The aim was to counteract the proliferation of many city-specific standards through an open industry standard.

In order that public authorities and operators were able to represent their interests effectively in this initiative, they established a community build upon solidarity under the OCA (Open Traffic System City Association) that participated as an equal partner in the standardization process.


Why then OTS?

OCIT® for the client side is financially a success story. Associated increased competition has led to significantly lower prices than previously was the case. But OCIT® shows weaknesses.

These lie in the fact that the original OCIT® standard is focused on introduction of competition and thus manufacturers miscibility in the field level of traffic light control systems and therefore only approximate to support additional requirements.

Such requirements result from projects that purport the (political) right to sustainable improvement of the traffic conditions and consequently operators of light signal control systems demand the support of brand new (VAT) services, such as traffic situation reports. These demands can only be fulfilled by integration of conventional traffic control systems along with associated expansion of so-called traffic management and intelligent transportation systems. Examples of this are projects of the BMBF initiative "Mobility in urban areas" and the BMWi "Traffic management 2010" initiative.

The network capacity to a traffic management functionality necessitates manufacturer miscibility across all subsystems involved in such integration (and not only the light signal control) across and requires a reinforced considering of the principles of communication technology in the field of open data communication of distributed systems in addition to the so far only focus on interfaces.

New requirements to clients and manufacturers are made, for which they are not prepared, because of the basis of the practice in the past. Thus, manufacturers miscibility and interconnectivity presents itself to many concerned persons for with system procurement as a difficult chapter. 

At the OCA, as representation of the demand side, the conception has therefore matured, that it must assume a leadership role in the standardization process to better meet their responsibility of Member assistance in procurement and transformation of systems. This claim was repeatedly underpinned by so-called OTS decisions of the OCA member meetings (2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008).

The preconditions to note the role of communication standards more than before, are to be created by an OTS process guided by the OCA. At the same time, new/additional guidance should be given in this process those charged with procurement and delivery in public administrations and the industry to adequately to deal with the problem “manufacturers mix” during specific procurements.