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NTCIP 1213 - Object Definitions for Electrical and Lighting Management Systems (ELMS)

This fact sheet was updated 9/18/2009. The standard approved at the time was version 0219d, approved as a recommended standard in 2005. Balloting was performed in 2007; a published standard is not yet available.

This Fact Sheet was written on September 18, 2009. The status of the standard at the time was: Approved.

This Fact Sheet was last verified on September 18, 2009

 Check the ITS Standards Search to see if there has been subsequent development activity.


The National Transportation Communications for Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) Protocol (NTCIP) is a family of standards that provides both the rules for communicating (called protocols) and the vocabulary (called objects) necessary to allow electronic traffic control equipment from different manufacturers to operate with each other as a system. The NTCIP is the first set of standards for the transportation industry that allows transportation systems to be built using a "mix and match" approach with equipment from different manufacturers. Therefore, NTCIP standards reduce the need for reliance on specific equipment vendors and customized one-of-a-kind software. To assure both manufacturer and user community support, NTCIP is a joint product of the National Electronics Manufacturers Association (NEMA), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE). More information concerning the NTCIP family of standards and their related documents is available in the NTCIP 9001 - NTCIP Guide, available on-line at (

Human communication relies on a vocabulary of words, each defined with a fixed meaning and spelling that are understood by the members of the conversation group. Computers have a similar vocabulary, called "objects" in the NTCIP standards. These objects define all possible commands, responses and information that may be exchanged among microprocessor-controlled electronic equipment, traffic management systems (which could include central computers housed in a center or portable computers, e.g. laptops), and by extension, their human operators. The NTCIP groups these objects by subject material (e.g., electrical and lighting management) and calls these groupings "object definitions." The objects defined in this standard allow an operator to command electrical and lighting management system (ELMS) devices to do something and verify that the ELMS device accomplished the command.

What are these standards for?

This standard, NTCIP 1213 - Object Definitions for Electrical and Lighting Management Systems (ELMS), provides the vocabulary - commands, responses and information - necessary for traffic management center’s central computer to control, manage, and monitor electrical and lighting management systems. This standard includes a concept of operations that includes a set of user needs and a description of ELMS configurations. It also includes a set of requirements for ELMS depending on the user needs selected for implementation, and a matching set of dialogs that describe data exchanges meeting those requirements. Additionally, this standard contains the object definitions used within those data exchanges, and a requirements traceability matrix showing traceability throughout the standard.

Who uses them?

This standard, NTCIP 1213 - Object Definitions for Electrical and Lighting Management Systems (ELMS), should be used by transportation and traffic engineers and managers involved with the design, specification, selection, procurement and installation, operation, and maintenance of electrical and lighting management systems. ITS product hardware and software designers and application (computer program) developers should find this standard especially relevant to their efforts.

How are they used?

This standard, NTCIP 1213 - Object Definitions for Electrical and Lighting Management Systems (ELMS), defines a concept of operations for how ELMS will be implemented, tying user needs to requirements for potential configurations, and establishing a language of messages implemented using a vocabulary of "objects", all to assure that the transportation management center computer-based devices, and ELMS devices "speak" a common language. A message must be understood by the device it was intended for, and equally important, it must not be misunderstood or misinterpreted by another device on the same network. Object definitions unambiguously define the content, terminology, units and format of commands, responses and information affecting communications with electrical and lighting management systems.

This standard must be used with one of the NTCIP communications profiles (see related NTCIP documents below) which provide the communications channel for information transfer between devices. It must be used with the NTCIP Global Object Definitions (NTCIP 1201), which provides the glossary of common object definitions used by multiple NTCIP devices.


Implementation of centrally controlled electrical and lighting management systems are accomplished by using the objects and management structure defined in NTCIP 1213 - Object Definitions for Electrical and Lighting Management Systems (ELMS). Communications between ELMS field devices and transportation management centers’ central computer are accomplished using the messaging structure and objects defined in this standard. These objects define the information, commands and responses that must be understood by the devices at both ends of the communications channel. This standard was developed using an established systems engineering process and includes the concept of operations, functional requirements, interface specifications and a requirements traceability matrix.

Related documents

The following ITS standards and documents are related and should be considered when using this standard:

The following standards and documents, while not part of the ITS standards, should also be considered when using this standard:

How to obtain Standards
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
Institute of Transportation Engineers
Association of Electrical and Medical Imaging Equipment Manufacturers (NEMA), formerly known as National Electrical Manufacturers Association