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Advanced Traveler Information Systems: An ITS revolution for commuters and travelers

Advanced Traveler Information Systems, also known as ATIS, are a vital component of ITS. ATIS provide personal mobility, safety, and efficient transportation. ATIS can reduce traffic congestion, while providing travelers with much needed information. Travelers save time with ATIS by being informed, which results in a higher traffic throughput. Advanced Traveler Information Systems collect and disseminate timely travel information to help drivers make important travel decisions. Most importantly, travelers are able to use this information to make quick travel decisions without the aid of transit agency personnel.

ATIS traditionally uses posters, maps, printed brochures, call centers, and transit agency personnel to convey information to passengers. However, now Intelligent Transport Systems, as well as websites for travel planning such as Google Maps, provide travelers with a much more up-to-date travel experience. Customized mobile applications, e-alerts, push notifications, social media, and web applications are making huge leaps to transform the travel industry for commuters, and tourists alike.

One example of an ATIS system is the DriveBC ATIS system of Canada. DriveBC aims to support the safe and efficient transportation of people and goods along the provincial highway system.The DriveBC website displays current road conditions,incidents, and future planned events. Additionally, DriveBC features real time webcams on their website which show images of current highway conditions across the province. DriveBC even offers current weather data, which is collected from weather stations operated by Environment Canada, or the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation.

Another example is Florida’s 511 Travel Information System, which opened in 2004, became a helpful tool for residents who were evacuated due to Hurricane. The system allowed users to call via a cellphone, or land-line phone to get real time traffic information. Road congestion information, blocked lanes, car crashes, and more information was available for many of the state’s counties. The free service was voice-activated, and rolled out to the entire state later on. The 511 service has now expanded, and offers a website, and mobile app.

In many other countries, and cities, Wifi is offered for free on public transportation such as railways, buses, and trams. Other areas offer pay-as-you-go Wifi, through other providers. Either way, wifi on public transportation allows passengers to access real-time travel information such as route planning, maps, and current rail conditions. For tourists this information can prove to be invaluable, and reduce the burden on transit agency personnel by providing this information digitally. Furthermore, information within public transportation, such as tvs, or monitors, can also broadcast relevant information to travelers, as well as custom-made mobile apps for consumers.

Continuously updated travel feeds, such as those from automatic vehicle location (AVL) systems, can be used to create mobile apps that help travelers to know the exact location of trains, and buses, as well as arrival and departure times. These feeds are already being published on many transit authority websites, and some are even used by third-party businesses to create other mobile apps. With these new applications comes the possibility for revolutionized travel experiences in the future, and higher levels of productivity.