Skip to content
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology
ITS Joint Program Office

About ITS Standards

Common Questions

This section answers questions that many ITS deployers and managers often have about ITS Standards. If your question is not answered here, please contact the ITS Standards Program Field Support Team.

Will transportation agency managers incur extra cost when they use ITS standards?

Use of standards can significantly reduce deployment costs. ITS standards embody the knowledge and experience of experts in the field; therefore, using standards may help accelerate a project's deployment schedule. Using standards in a deployment can greatly reduce component development costs, especially if standardized off-the-shelf components are available. In some cases, the initial cost and effort for a standards-based deployment may be greater, but using ITS standards will lead to savings in the long run. Standards provide managers with a wider choice of options in service and product selections, resulting in reduced cost and risk when replacing, upgrading, or enhancing equipment. As standards become more widely deployed, integration with other systems in the future will be simplified.

What is the status of the standards? Are they ready for use?

You can check the current status of any standard through the ITS Standards Search. The Standards Search tool also provides summary information about each standard, where to find more information, and in many cases, more detailed Fact Sheets.

Many ITS standards have passed all necessary ballots and have been approved by their parent Standards Development Organization(s) (SDOs). Many other standards that have not been formally balloted and/or approved may be in near-final form and may still provide an advantage to transportation agencies that implement them now. To obtain more information regarding the maturity level of a standard, agencies should contact the relevant SDO working group.

Is use of standards mandatory?

No, not at this time. ITS standards are mandated only when they become officially adopted by the USDOT; at this point the USDOT has not adopted any ITS standards. The USDOT encourages the use of applicable ITS standards prior to their official adoption, however, as appropriate.

See for additional information.

How do transportation agencies include standards in their procurement specifications?

Standards can be included in a procurements specifications by documenting all of the standards applicable to the ITS systems deployment. You must also specify the definitions, references, options, and requirements, where applicable, for each standard to be used in the system. The procurement specifications will also include the standards conformance and acceptance tests that the systems must pass. Vague statements to the effect that the systems must be "ITS standards compliant" or must "conform to" specific standards are not sufficient. Resources that can be used for assistance with procurement specifications are:

How does a deployer determine which standards to use?

First, a deployer could look at the ITS Standards website and select the relevant application area(s). Second, a deployer could look at the National ITS Reference Architecture (or ARC-IT) and/or develop a regional/project ITS architecture, and select market packages and/or information flows. Each information flow will provide the same menu of standards choices as is available on the ITS Standards website. The ARC-IT will not identify the specific subset of those standards to use; neither will application areas. So how should a deployer determine which specific subset of standards to use? Review the standards themselves, review the lessons learned, review the case studies, review the standards advisories, review the NTCIP Guide and other guides, check with technical resource center, etc.

Goal Take a look at… Use…
To determine the group of potentially useful standards… Application Areas Application Area Table
Information Flows ARC-IT
To determine the specific set of standards to use… ITS Deployment Resources Documents Test Procedure Generator (TPG)
ITS Standards Guides Fact Sheets, NTCIP Guide, TMDD Guide, etc.
ITS Standards Documents: Communications Profiles, Messages, Data Dictionaries Search Standards provides information on how obtain each standard
Technical Assistance ITS Standards Program Field Support Team

I need to better understand the technical content of an ITS standard. Who should I contact?

Consult the Technical Assistance section to identify the best resources for you to contact for technical assistance.