Skip to content

Basics of DATEX II

The basic level of support is for people who are interested in using DATEX II but want to get to know the basics: the what, when, why and how.

  • What is DATEX II: learn about the DATEX II language, and how it operates
  • When to use DATEX II and how it can support your services: the service types that are facilitated by DATEX II.
  • What components it consists of: the components of the DATEX II suite of standards
  • How do you deploy it: introduction on using DATEX II
  • Why was it created and further developed: governance, background and history of the DATEX II standard and organisation

General Introduction

This part of the document portal gives a general overview to understand what DATEX II is. It represents an introduction and some help to understand more specific descriptions of parts of DATEX II.

What is DATEX II?

DATEX II is the electronic language used in Europe for the exchange of traffic information and traffic data. The development of DATEX II was initiated in the early nineties because of the need to exchange information between traffic centers of motorway operators. Soon there was the need to open this information to service providers. DATEX I was somewhat too limited for this and used outdated technical concepts. Which is why DATEX II was developed in the early years of this millennium. By means of DATEX II, traffic information and traffic management information is distributed in a way that is not dependent on language and presentation format. This means that there is no room for misunderstandings and / or translation errors by the recipient, but the recipient can choose to include spoken text, an image on a map, or to integrate it in a navigation calculation. In a way, it is like a natural language, with grammar and a dictionary.

DATEX II is a standard for the traffic and travel information sector to share data to deliver a comprehensive information service to the end user.

DATEX II was designed and developed as a traffic and travel data exchange mechanism by a European task force set up to standardise the interface between traffic control and information centers.

DATEX II provides to road operators and road data providers, documentation, Unified Modelling Language (UML) model and eXtensible Markup Language (XML) tools to exchange road data in a homogeneous way.

The need for standardization

Allowing the exchange of traffic information to take place directly between control room operating systems considerably increases the safety and performance of transportation networks. With any exchange taking place at the system level, information is transferred instantaneously and does not involve the intervention of the operator, allowing for faster more responsive management of road networks. This ‘dynamic system state’ lies at the heart of the concept of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). When considering the volume, availability and accuracy of data, combined with the many descriptors of traffic state or situations, the importance of the concept is clear. The harmonisation and standardisation of data structures and data exchange services are fundamental challenges for both the information society, as well as for ITS. DATEX II is a specification which is meant to operate and represent the interface between the worlds of dynamic traffic and IT. The coordination and harmonisation of traffic management measures between road operators is an essential part of maximising the capacities of their road networks to reduce the negative effects of congestion, whilst improving safety.

What is DATEX II used for?

Information exchanged with DATEX II systems covers amongst others:

  • Traffic situations
  • Traffic status
  • Traffic Management
  • Messages displayed on Variable Message Signs (VMS)
  • Service information
  • Parking
  • Truck parking
  • Urban Traffic Specifics
  • Electromobility infrastructure
  • Refuelling and recharging
  • Management of Electronic Traffic Regulations
  • Urban Vehicle Access Regulations

DATEX II is of relevance for all applications where dynamic information on the road system is concerned. The main service types that are facilitated by DATEX II are:

  • Traffic management information from operator to operator
  • Real time high-density traffic information and route guidance based on measures taken by road operators
  • Provision of journalistic traffic information in human understandable formats (and content)
  • Dynamic route navigation based on traffic conditions and Traffic Management (TM) measures
  • Joint network management by multiple road operators
  • Joint network management by road operators and service providers (TM2.0)
  • Data collection for traffic management
  • Cooperative ITS

DATEX II enables the common understanding of traffic by road operators and service providers across any border. It thereby contributes to road safety, traffic flow and the environment on European roads in a variety of domains, such as:

  • Motorways
  • Urban roads
  • Parking
  • E-mobility
  • Logistics
  • Cooperative and Connected Mobility

Special attention is paid to interoperability issues resulting from the need for multiple operator cooperation and the unhindered exchange of data or information. DATEX II is also designed to be used within single operator systems.

Why DATEX II is a strategic choice

The components of the DATEX II suite of standards


DATEX II establishes specifications for data exchange between the actors like Traffic Information Centres, Traffic Control/Management Centres, Service Providers and other actors like car park operators. Data exchange using DATEX II includes the following information:

  • The use cases and associated requirements, and features relative to different exchange situations,
  • The different functional exchange profiles,
  • The abstract elements for protocols,
  • The data model for exchange (informational structures, relationships, roles, attributes and associated data types required).

Next to the DATEX II Exchange standard (shown on the bottom of the figure), the DATEX II data model includes various substandards or parts. Part 1 describes the rules of the standard, Part 2 describes the chosen location referencing method and Part 7 describes common information elements. Parts 3 to 6, 8 and 9 describe the data model for the exchange of information about a certain type of information. There are parts currently in development that focus on Energy (charging infrastructure), Management of Electronic Traffic Regulations, Urban Access Vehicle Regulations and Logistics.

More about the Parts can be found in the Mastering DATEX II chapter.


The project organisation of DATEX II is structured in three layers:

The Steering Group (SG), led by an SG Chair and an SG Deputy, has the final responsibility for all decisions in the project. All Beneficiaries are member of the SG, as well as the TMG chair. The SG Chair and SG Deputy deal with the day-to-day strategical and tactical activities and represent the project in external contacts. They also represent the project in the contacts with the Commission. The SG is advised by the TMG on technical matters. All deliverables and other formal documents need approval of the SG.

A STakeholder Advisory Board (STAB) advises (asked or not) the SG. The STAB consists of any public or private organisation that wants to be linked to the project.

The members of the Technical Management Group (TMG) are the Activity Leaders. The TMG is open to others to participate in the (mainly technical) meetings. TMG Chair and TMG Deputy deal with the day-to-day activities and represent the project on technical matters. The TMG reports to the SG. The TMG coordinates the cooperation of the Activities (where needed) and monitors progress and the quality of the deliverables.

Members of the Activity Teams, led by Activity Leaders, are the experts from the different Member States and other organisations that actively participate in the Activities. The Activity Leaders are responsible for the work and the deliverables in their Activity; for the reporting to the TMG and for the coordination with other Activities (where needed) in the TMG or direct with the other Activities.

DATEX II also organises a bi-annual DATEX II User Forum, where the DATEX II community comes together to share knowledge and experiences. Here we inform our stakeholders on the DATEX II developments, on a strategic, tactical and technical level.

The governance of the DATEX II organization is controlled by the “Rules of Procedure of the DATEX II organization”. These rules apply to all partners in the DATEX II organization. The DATEX II organisation is open to all stakeholders in the traffic and travel domain that want to participate in the development, maintenance and user support of DATEX II.

Background and history

Delivering European Transport Policy requires co-ordination of traffic management and development of seamless pan European services. With the aim to support sustainable mobility in Europe, the European Commission has been supporting the development of information exchange mainly between the actors of the road traffic management domain for a number of years. In the road sector, the DATEX standard was developed for information exchange between traffic management centres and constitutes the reference for applications that have been developed. Much investment has been made in Europe both, in traffic control and information centres over the last decade and also in a quantum shift in the monitoring of the Trans European Network.

Collecting information is only part of the story – to make the most of the investment data needs to be exchanged both with other centres and, in a more recent development, with those developing pan-European services provided directly to road users.

DATEX was designed and developed as a traffic and travel data exchange mechanism by a European task force set up to standardise the interface between traffic control and information centres. It has been the reference for applications that have been developed and implemented in Europe. The existing DATEX network consists of 50 to 60 operational nodes organised in different network and node types throughout Europe. The majority of nodes are used for national exchange of data, but some of them support international exchange.

Start of DATEX

Alongside the DATEX pre-standards, a Data Exchange Memorandum of Understanding (DATEX MoU) covering international exchange of traffic data was formally established in October 1997. The MoU confirmed in a formal manner that the development of international traffic data exchange would be based on the DATEX technical specifications, and it established an organisational framework that enabled users to influence and participate in the developments. The signatories of the current DATEX MoU decided to work on a revised MoU which is more focused on the availability of traffic and travel data to third parties.

It should be noted that many of the original signatories were participants in the Euro-Regional projects which form the EU deployment programme for ITS, know as the TEMPO Programme, involving more than 80 organisations from 14 Member States and three neighbouring countries.

Development of DATEX II

The development of DATEX II was begun in late 2003 and has been supported and partially funded by the European Commission who see it as playing a fundamental role in the ITS domain within European states. This role now extends from traffic control centre / road authority usage to include all types of service provider usage in the ITS domain. Its data content domain is also now extended from the trunk / motorway / TERN road network to include urban network information. Thus DATEX II is aimed at a very wide user base which is far broader than that of the original DATEX specifications.

The original DATEX specifications suffered from a number of shortcomings which made it unlikely to achieve “plug and play” interoperability between DATEX nodes from different manufacturers. Updating the technology, addressing the interoperability issues and the latest stakeholder requirements were the key drivers in the development of DATEX II. DATEX II was not intended to be a rigid set of specifications, but rather one that allowed a degree of choice and one that was able to evolve to allow stakeholders to exchange additional new types of information in the future. However, interoperability between disparate DATEX II systems was still given a high priority.

A first version (1.0) was then produced at the end of 2006 and was then quickly disseminated among countries. The corresponding implementations raised a number of mistakes and requests for change.

DATEX II Version 2.0 and 3.0

Then, a first proposal for the next version was issued in July 2009. The new stable version was called “2.0”, basis of the technical specifications issued by CEN (CEN/TS 16157:2011). This version and its model evolved until the 2.3 version.

A third version was submitted as a standard in CEN in December 2016. And the European Standard was issued by CEN in 2018. (CEN/EN 16157:2018).

Go back to the previous page