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Background of the DATEX II standard

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 in the last 15 years.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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