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6 CHAPTER two THE HISTORY OF TRAVELER INFORMATION This section provides a brief summary of the history of trav- by way of commercial television and radio broadcasts, eler information and sets the stage for the remainder of this augmented by a number of changeable message signs and report. Following this brief introduction, the remainder of HARs. the section describes early traveler information approaches. The section then presents a summary of the impact of the introduction of the Internet and the FCC designation of the The Internet's Impact On Traveler Information three-digit-dial recognition of 511 for traveler information. The introduction of the World Wide Web to the general Early Real-Time Traveler Information population in the early to mid-1990s created what could Approaches be considered the first paradigm shift in the field of trav- eler information. The industry recognized that the number Before the 1990s, traveler information dissemination was of computers and offices connected to the Internet would typically limited to existing media outlets, such as television, continue to increase, and the Internet allowed users to cre- radio, and newspaper; and field devices, such as changeable ate cost-effective websites to disseminate information and message signs, message boards, highway advisory radio that (once created) could be viewed by anyone with Internet (HAR), and commercial radio broadcasts. As the ITS indus- access. The Internet affected the traveler information indus- try developed, both pre-trip and en route traveler informa- try in two distinct ways: tion were recognized as effective tools for reaching travelers in both metropolitan and rural areas. However, although It allowed public agencies to create traveler informa- early attempts to communicate with travelers proved benefi- tion websites that contained large amounts of informa- cial and successful, limited off-the-shelf products or systems tion relevant to travel throughout the state, and that were available to travelers. In several European countries, could be viewed by anyone at any Internet accessible digital data sent in the subcarrier (a separate analog, or dig- location, therefore creating an opportunity to assemble ital signal carried on main radio broadcasts used to carry information at one location with the understanding that additional voice or data content) of radio broadcasts emerged it would be viewed by many travelers. as an effective mechanism to reach in-vehicle receivers with It allowed private sector information service providers real-time information for display on in-vehicle devices. Sim- to create local, regional, or nationwide traveler infor- ilar technologies were tested in the United States and proved mation systems and to reach travelers nationwide. to be effective; however, commercial products never reached the market. An assortment of telephone systems existed to Public transportation agencies have had experience with provide regional or local travel information. Although the static traffic signs for many years. However, when Internet capabilities existed to disseminate travel information using use grew tremendously in the 1990s, it represented a technol- telephone systems, wide-scale branding of a common phone ogy arena with a tremendous learning curve. The ubiquitous number was lacking, and only a limited set of the population nature of the Internet and the standardization of technolo- knew of the systems. gies and approaches have allowed the transportation indus- try's use and understanding of the Internet to mature quickly The ITS industry recognized and demonstrated the value for the purposes of traveler information dissemination. of reaching travelers in their homes or work places and in their vehicles with information about current and impending Television and radio media outlets now actively dis- conditions, but the lack of an efficient, nationally reproduc- seminate traveler information and are consumers of traveler ible, and market-priced solution prevented personal traveler information provided by the public transportation agencies. information systems from reaching the market, with few In addition, the Internet has been the primary driving factor exceptions. Therefore, from the 1950s to the early 1990s, at accomplishing the amount of "on-demand" information the majority of travel information dissemination occurred now offered to travelers.