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Publication Number:      Date:  May/June 2000
Issue No: Vol. 63 No. 6
Date: May/June 2000


Turbo Architecture: A Tool for Leveraging The National ITS Architecture

by the National ITS Architecture Team

Early in the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) program, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recognized the need for a "National ITS Architecture" to identify interfaces for standardization and to provide a framework for the integration of transportation systems. In 1996, DOT released the first version of the National ITS Architecture, which is essential to meeting the DOT goal of a compatible seamless transportation system. This stakeholder-based consensus architecture addressed the wide cross section of the transportation community's needs as described by the National ITS Program Plan. Since its initial release, the National ITS Architecture has been updated with two additional user services - Highway-Rail Intersection and Archived Data - and efforts are underway to continue to expand the scope of the architecture to more fully address rural needs.

The National ITS Architecture can serve as the basis for identifying the many integration options in a region. Together, these options create an architecture for the region or architectures for each project in the region. In addition, the strong tie between the National ITS Architecture and ITS Standards provides a valuable resource for defining the standards that can result in efficient, open, and interoperable ITS deployments in a region. Although the architecture is national in scope, it benefits state and local agencies by helping them to save time and money in achieving maximum benefits through the implementation of integrated ITS. These benefits are gaining recognition on a worldwide basis, as countries in North America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region are creating (or have recently completed) national or multinational ITS architectures.

The National ITS Architecture, originally defined in voluminous paper documents, has in recent years become highly accessible to public and private sector transportation professionals through a CD-ROM version, which provides a comprehensive hyperlinked description of the architecture. Over the past two years, DOT has provided highly successful, hands-on interactive training to more than 2,000 transportation professionals in the concepts and use of the National ITS Architecture.

What has been lacking until now is a software tool, available to everyone, that can take the information found on the National ITS Architecture CD-ROM and apply it directly to creating a customized regional or project architecture that reflects the transportation needs of the region and identifies the full range of integration options available. In response to this need, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has developed a software tool that makes it significantly easier to build ITS architectures using the National ITS Architecture as a reference.

This tool is called Turbo ArchitectureTM and will be released to the user community in May at the annual meeting of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America) in Boston. The National ITS Architecture Team - DOT and two companies under contract from DOT, Iteris Inc. and Lockheed Martin - has been developing Turbo Architecture for the past year. The software will be distributed through McTrans for DOT.

The Turbo Architecture tool is a high-level, interactive software program that assists transportation planners and system integrators, from both the public and private sectors, in the development of regional and project architectures that are based on the National ITS Architecture.

Turbo Architecture allows a user to:

The user enters their region- or project-specific information into the tool and ultimately generates an architecture that can be customized to their needs. There are two ways to initially enter information into Turbo Architecture: via an interview or directly into tabular forms. The interview guides the user through a series of questions and options that results in the creation of an inventory of transportation systems and a set of services. The user may also go directly to a pair of tabular forms to create this initial inventory and set of services. In either case, this information initiates the development of an ITS architecture.

When this initial data input is completed, the user can begin to customize his architecture, which is a necessary next step. Both the interview and tabular forms help the user identify and extract the pertinent National ITS Architecture pieces that they require. In addition, Turbo Architecture allows the user to map and tailor local system names and descriptions to match local needs, services, and systems. The user can also extend his architecture beyond elements defined in the National ITS Architecture by adding his own information flows and transportation elements for those areas not covered by the National ITS Architecture.

When the architecture has been customized, the next issue is how to present the information to stakeholders. Turbo Architecture answers this need with multiple useful output reports and diagrams that are available for display and printing. The underlying information describing the architecture is also available for exportation as data sets that can be analyzed further.

Turbo Architecture helps the user integrate multiple-project architectures with each other and with a regional architecture. In a single file, the user can create a single regional architecture and multiple project architectures.

Turbo Architecture is a stand-alone Windows application program that produces Microsoft Access 97-compatible data files that the user may further manipulate directly using Microsoft Access 97.

To properly use the Turbo Architecture tool, it is highly recommended that users be familiar with the National ITS Architecture because this tool is not an introduction to the National ITS Architecture. Turbo Architecture will come with a detailed user's manual and installation guide, as well as online help, to facilitate easy installation and productive use. The user's manual will include information on basic operation and advanced techniques to aid the user in creating architectures.

Turbo Architecture will support users in meeting DOT's Interim Guidance for Architecture Consistency. This policy encourages the use of the National ITS Architecture as a reference in developing regional and project architectures that focus on integration of ITS within a region.

Turbo Architecture will be available in May 2000. For more information on Turbo Architecture, contact Lee Simmons at (202) 366-8048 or via e-mail at lee.simmons@fhwa.dot.gov. To get your copy of Turbo Architecture, contact McTrans at (352) 392-0378 x242 or via email at mctrans@ce.ufl.edu.

This article was provided by the National ITS Architecture Team, whose members represent DOT (FHWA, Joint ITS Program Office), Iteris Inc., and Lockheed Martin.



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