Columbus Details Tech Needed for Its Connected Vehicle Project

The Connected Vehicle Environment, part of the Smart Columbus program, will require wireless communication equipment and a secure data management system.

Columbus, Ohio, is driving its connected vehicle program into the future.

Earlier this summer, the city and the U.S. Transportation Department released a highly detailed, 205-page roadmap for its Connected Vehicle Environment project, spelling out the connected vehicle infrastructure it plans to construct over the next two years. The plan is part of the Columbus Traffic Signal System and one element of a larger Smart Columbus smart city plan.

The plan comes about two years after the Ohio city won the highly publicized Smart City Challenge, a nationwide contest put on by the Transportation Department, which came with a $40 million grant.

Under the pilot project, which will not officially go live until July 2020, the city will install 113 roadside units and other connected vehicle equipment at intersections with stoplights. The city will also deploy 1,800 on-board units that will be installed on participating private, emergency transit and freight vehicles, according to the document, known as a “concept of operations.” There will also be 12 vehicle-to-vehicle or vehicle-to-infrastructure applications. And the project “will capture, relate, store, and respond to data generated by the infrastructure, used by the applications for traffic management.”

The Connected Vehicle Environment will require a host of wireless and Internet of Things technologies, as well as data management systems, to work together. The CVE project is a key element of the city’s smart city plan, but Columbus has also drummed up about $500 million in pledges for smart city investments to support the wider smart plan, which aims to spur economic activity and innovation, enable an increasingly mobile workforce and, ultimately, improve residents’ quality of life.

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Columbus Aims to Improve Road Safety with Technology

The overall goal of the CVE is to improve general vehicle operator safety, safety at intersections and in school zones, the schedule reliability of transit vehicles; emergency response times, motorists’ adherence to red light laws, and traffic management capabilities.

“As you would expect in an urban environment, it was rear-end, angle and five-point crashes that exhibited the greatest number of injuries and fatalities,” Mandy Bishop, deputy director of public service in Columbus and the project’s program manager, said in a webinar, according to Government Technology.

“In these corridors, CV [connected vehicle] technology could be used in applications targeted toward reducing these crashes,” she added.

Through the CVE, the city wants to deliver situational awareness for traffic management and operations based on the data it collects from intersections and vehicles. The goal, GCN reports, is to “reduce the number of accidents and support truck platooning, which involves electronically linking groups of trucks to drive close to one another and accelerate or brake simultaneously.”

The Tech Behind Columbus’s Connected Vehicle Program

To make all of that possible, the CVE will require numerous technologies to work in concert.

“Due to the networked nature of devices in the CVE, a number of policies and constraints regarding information technology and data security are anticipated to be developed as part of the deployment,” the concept of operations document states.

The city will need to modify its existing IT service management to accommodate the addition of connected vehicle technology to design, plan, deliver, operate and control the IT services to maintain those devices, according to the plan. Additionally, the CVE “will result in the generation of new IT processes, policies, and data governance plans to manage the system,” the document notes.

The roadside units will have any or all the following items: a traffic signal controller, a Global Navigation Satellite System receiver to pinpoint locations, a wireless dedicated short-range communications radio and a message processing unit.

According to the concept of operations document, the on-board units in the vehicles will contain a GNSS receiver, a vehicle data bus, a DSRC radio, a processing unit, a power management system, software applications and a display.

The sensors on the vehicle data bus will capture data on the vehicle’s acceleration and angular rotation, and the GNSS will collect data on the vehicle’s position, speed and heading. Cars and infrastructure will communicate via DSRC radio.

The system will increase the amount and quality of traffic operations data received at the Columbus Traffic Management Center that can be used to optimize traffic signal timing in real time along CV-equipped corridors, according to the document.

Another key technology element of the CVE project is a security and credentials management system, or SCMS, which is designed to provide trusted, secure vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications.

“It employs highly innovative methods and encryption and certificate management techniques to ensure communications security between entities that previously have not encountered each other — but also wish to remain anonymous (as is the case when vehicle operators encounter each other on the road),” the concept of operations document states. “This allows devices that have never encountered each other to have confidence that the data received is trustworthy. Certificates will be transmitted to RSUs via backhaul and to OBUs over the air.”

The city notes that access to the Columbus Traffic Signal System fiber-optic network “has the potential to compromise the operations of the CVE, and security measures need to be in place to reduce the likelihood of an attack that may disrupt the system.”

The city proposes a combination of network security measures to protect the CVE, including “the use of encrypted over-the-air messages, firewalls to prevent unauthorized access through a local network or the internet; physical security in the form of locks, cabinet alarms, and fiber connectivity alarms; and proper implementation of wireless security protocols.”

More specific measures may include “implementing strong passwords, encryption of data sent across the network, logging and monitoring network traffic, and disabling unused ports and removing unnecessary devices from the network,” the city says.

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Aug 13 2018