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Vox Clamantis in Deserto

Vox Clamantis in Deserto
by Roger C. Lanctot on 12-30-2016 at 4:00 pm

 If you are headed to Las Vegas for your New Year’s celebration, the annual Consumer Electronics Show or just a good time, beware! According to some estimates Nevada is the fourth most dangerous state for pedestrians and Las Vegas is ground zero for what the city calls an ePEDemic of roadway fatalities.

It’s difficult to explain the underlying cause of Nevada’s dubious distinction and Las Vegas’ standout performance other than to point to the large number of tourists, the wide pedestrian unfriendly boulevards (gotta get to that casino across the street, but how?), a car-dependent surface transportation network and an ample volume of alcohol consumption by drivers and pedestrians alike. The city of Las Vegas has done its best to herd walkers onto pedestrian flyovers and coral them into crosswalks, but impatience and heedlessness are the enemies of prudence and safety.

Of course, transportation challenges in Las Vegas are not limited to the city’s walkability. Commuters face challenges getting around Las Vegas on a daily basis and when CES 2017 arrives next week arterial sclerosis will set in.

With these challenges in mind, it is worth noting that Nevada launched a project just last week intended to find solutions to the multi-faceted problems facing the city’s transportation planners. Like a cry for help piercing the desert stillness, Las Vegas has put out an RFI for the creation of an “X2V Interoperability Playground” in the metropolitan area. Submissions due by January 30, 2017. (“X” as in “State” to “V” as in vehicle communications.)

The full text of the RFI appears below. Suffice it to say that Nevada is looking to create a development environment tuned to take advantage of existing technologies and systems to solve real problems in real-time – with the lure of offering up Las Vegas as a testbed/petry dish for transportation innovation.

Notable among the state’s objectives are the creation of system that is free of proprietary technology and what it calls “vendor lock-in.” The proposal takes into account mobile devices, embedded vehicle connectivity, in-vehicle infotainment systems and infrastructure.

In this respect Nevada is clearing seeking to cut through the balkanized world of infrastructure sourcing agreements with regionally dominant suppliers using incompatible proprietary systems. The state is also signaling the priority it will be putting on cellular-based communications as the single most widely deployed and interoperable technology capable of serving as a platform for integrating and aggregating data from multiple sources.

Nevada’s outreach gives voice to the frustrations of cities throughout the U.S. and the world which are struggling to achieve interoperability between fundamentally incompatible automotive, mobile and wireless and transportation infrastructure systems and solutions. Cars and phones essentially don’t talk to one another and neither communicate very well with infrastructure.

Las Vegas has taken some of the first steps toward enabling connectivity between cars and infrastructure by becoming one of the first cities to enable the communication of the signal phase and timing of traffic lights with cars – a capability that both BMW and Audi now offer on some of their newest vehicles. But it’s just the first step.

The task for Las Vegas requires bringing together car makers, app developers, wireless carriers and infrastructure contractors in the interest of mitigating congestion, traffic fatalities, and vehicle emissions. Multiple app developers are already working toward these ends including apps like Global Mobile Alert for alerting drivers to the proximity of school zones, railroad crossings and traffic lights, Haas Alert for alerting drivers to the proximity of emergency vehicles, and Ridar Systems for alerting drivers to the proximity of motorcycle riders.

But there are more including ConnectedSignals for communicating the signal phase and timing of approaching traffic lights and Paytollo for smartphone-based toll payment. These applications and more like them, are already helping speed the flow of vehicles through the urban and suburban grid.

What Las Vegas is looking for is a way to aggregate communications among devices on the back end while enabling enhanced communication capabilities and data exchange at the terminals – whether those terminals are phones, vehicles, traffic signals or toll booths. That is the ultimate goal.

The upcoming CES event is the perfect opportunity for Las Vegas transportation executives to explore available solutions from the likes of HERE, Ericsson, Verizon, AT&T, IBM, and Continental and the car companies and handset makers that are dependent on these partners. Hopefully, someone will hear Las Vegas’s voice crying out in the desert.

Full text of Las Vegas RFI – proposals due 1/30/17:

1. Purpose (Scope & Objectives)
With the advent of connected and autonomous vehicles the future of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) and related infrastructure has become unclear. Metropolitan planning organizations in the past have been able to look 40 years in advance, now find themselves challenged by fast moving technologies that have development cycles measured in months.

The objective of this mobility challenge is to gather expressions of interest, information and guidance regarding the creation of a multivendor X2V Playground with the goal of accelerating development, validating interoperability and in turn deployment of advanced mobility hardware, software and services.

Why “X2V”? As a State the “X” rather than the “V” has to be the priority for Nevada. States and cities have little influence over the manufacturing of vehicles, but we do have a primary responsibility to focus on the role of pedestrians and related infrastructure.

The Nevada Center for Advanced Mobility (Nevada CAM) creates advanced mobility opportunities for visitors, residents and industry. This is achieved by bringing together industry, government and academia to develop and deploy policy, standards and technology around advanced mobility including electric, connected, autonomous vehicles and related infrastructure. The X2V Interoperability Playground aims provide an environment that helps contribute to level of confidence needed to enable government and industry to make smart connected vehicle infrastructure investments.

2. Background (Overview)

The data networking and communications industry has spent decades working towards a level of standardization that ensures general interoperability between multivendor hardware and software. We want to drive transportation technologies towards becoming more like a traditional data communications network which when compliant with standards allow equipment in mixed vendor environments to communicate seamlessly. This robust platform combined with rational data architecture provides an ecosystem upon which tools and applications can be developed with the assurance that broad deployment will be relatively painless.

: Including, but not limited to Automotive OEM’s, Tier 1 & 2 Automotive Suppliers, Networking Companies, Telecommunications Operators, Energy Utilities, Technology Startups, Software Developers, Media and content providers.

: One proposed area for an X2V Playground is bounded by Sahara Avenue (North), McCarran Airport (South), Koval Lane (West) and Maryland Parkway (East).

Las Vegas traffic infrastructure map:
Notable characteristics of this area include:

  • Parallel to Las Vegas Boulevard (The Strip)
  • Includes McCarran International Airport and University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • Right of ways ranging from 7-8 lane 45mph arterial roads to residential streets
  • Directly accessible to the Sands Expo and Convention Center and Las Vegas Convention Center
  • Extensive (lit/dark fiber, copper) network terminating at RTC’s Freeway & Arterial System of Transportation (FAST)
  • 70 signalized intersections

14 DSRC RSU’s from 2 vendors already deployed

: Validate security, standards compliance, interoperability and city architecture integration of on-board and roadside equipment with:

  • other vendor RSE
  • WiFi mobile applications
  • cellular mobile applications
  • in-car infotainment systems
  • distributed/centralized data processing and storage
  • legacy city infrastructure (signal controllers)
  • legacy city data systems


  • traffic signal, ramp meters, traffic counters, dynamic messaging
  • public transportation schedules
  • emergency services and maintenance vehicles
  • dynamic traffic management

    3. Goals / Points of Interest
    Through this RFI, Nevada CAM and its partners are interested in gathering expressions of interest, information and guidance for an X2V Playground that may lead to the following outcomes and opportunities:
    Potential Outcomes

    • Laboratory and showcase for vendors
    • Advise metropolitan planning and decision making
    • Living and open data lab for cloud, mobile and in car application developers
    • Reference for other states and cities (technical, regulatory, community)
    • Architecture solutions avoiding proprietary technology and ‘vendor lock-in’

    Potential Opportunities

    • Explore and understand how connected infrastructure can supplement, accelerate and improve the development, adoption and overall CAV experience.
    • Understand the deployment options for big data and cloud based mobility applications (development pathway from phone to vehicle)
    • Validate both short-term and long-term the difference city infrastructure can make to the promise of autonomous vehicles with the intention of permanent deployment
    • Involvement in the definition of a city mobility data communications platform and ecosystem that is conducive to multivendor interoperability (beyond standards)
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