Lessons learned from March, 2011
In that disaster, roadside sensors built in V2I proved largely unhelpful. When people urgently needed to know which roads were closed, congested, or open for rescue and distribution efforts, they found some ITS spots were knocked down. Worse, even if they were in operation, up-to-date regional traffic and road condition information was often being managed by individual regional bureaucracies, and not readily available to those outside the region. There was no seamless traffic information in the disaster region.
In contrast, what proved useful was V2V information -- data coming out of each car that actually traveled in the disaster region.
At the time of the earthquake/tsunami crises, ITS Japan as an emergency measure requested each carmaker to provide data gathered by probing signals from each car's navigation system, showing where each car had been, which route it had to take, and how long it took, etc.
ITS Japan then mapped the massive data collected to create a unified map that indicated roads open or closed.
The exercise, however, wasn't so simple, because each automotive maker in Japan -- Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and Pioneer (which makes car navigation systems) -- offers its own private roadside information service (similar to General Motor's OnStar system), using a proprietary data system and format.
The probed data, offered in disparate formats, then needed to be integrated to create a single map. According to ITS Japan, it took a week for ITS Japan to pull this off based on the data gathered by private automakers, after the earthquake and tsunami hit. Comparatively, it took three and half weeks to combine the private carmakers' information with public data collected by national transportation ministry.
At the 20th ITS World Congress scheduled in Tokyo in October, Japan is expected to share its updated vision for the nation's Intelligent Transportation System -- originally drafted and agreed upon in 2008.