What are intelligent transport systems? 

Intelligent transport systems are those in which information, data processing, communication, and sensor technologies are applied to vehicles (including trains, aircraft and ships), transport infrastructure and transport users.

Examples of ITS in use in New Zealand include:

  • advanced driver assistance systems, such as automated parking and blind spot warning systems
  • real-time information for public transport users and State highway travellers
  • active congestion management of the urban highway network
  • air traffic control.

What are the benefits offered by ITS technologies?

ITS technologies offer safety and efficiency benefits to users of all modes of transport. The benefits offered include:  

  • Safety—for example reducing the severity of road crashes by helping vehicle operators maintain safe following distances and by minimising the damage caused during a crash.
  • Effectiveness—providing detailed information to transport network operators and planners to enable them to ensure that the transport system operates as effectively as possible — this could defer the need to invest in major infrastructure projects.
  • Efficiency—increasing the efficient use of transport systems. Examples of this include:
    • reducing congestion, with linked reductions in fuel consumption, air pollution and delays
    • enhancing public transport reliability and timeliness.

The inclusion of these technologies into New Zealand’s transport systems contribute to the development of an effective, efficient, safe, secure, accessible and resilient transport system. This in turn supports the growth of our country’s economy in order to deliver greater prosperity, security and opportunities for all New Zealanders.

What specific barriers are there to the uptake of ITS in New Zealand?

Barriers to the uptake of intelligent transport systems in New Zealand include:

  • Low population density, with few large population centres. This relative dispersal of our population means that the economy of scale benefits possible in many economies may be more difficult to achieve in New Zealand with ITS technologies.
  • The limited number of alternative routes, should State highways or the main trunk railway line be unavailable for use, may require particular forms of real-time traffic information to benefit users.
  • The length of the New Zealand road and rail networks relative to population may increase the costs of ITS infrastructure relative to benefits.
  • Our distance from international markets.
  • The slow turnover of the New Zealand vehicle fleet, which may restrict the speed of uptake of ‘built-in’ rather than ‘bolt-on’ technologies.
  • New Zealand imports new and used vehicles from multiple jurisdictions that use multiple standards.

We need an Action Plan to ensure these issues are considered and, to the extent they can be addressed, to ensure ITS technologies contribute to making our transport system as efficient, effective and safe as possible.

What is in the ITS Technology Action Plan 2014-18?

The Action Plan outlines the role government departments and transport agencies will play in ensuring New Zealand gets the greatest benefit from ITS and achieves value for money when investing in infrastructure.

It outlines the Government’s strategic approach to encouraging and enabling these technologies in New Zealand. 

The Action Plan contains 42 actions, 9 of them priority actions, designed to help smooth the introduction of new ITS technologies into New Zealand. The Action Plan takes a cross-agency approach, that will add value to transport system investment decisions. 


Chapter One introduces the concept of intelligent transport systems and the purpose of the Action Plan.

Strategic context

Chapter Two sets out the transport outcomes the government wishes to see and the major benefits that ITS can bring in delivering those outcomes. The sections contain information on the following:

  • the Government's economic growth and transport objectives
  • transport outcomes and the role of ITS
  • the central government participants in ITS
  • other key participants

The Government's approach to ITS in the transport system

Chapter Three sets out the government’s leadership role. Sections include:

  • statement of Government commitment
  • the role of government
  • the Government’s approach

Government actions for 2014-18

Chapter Four sets out the actions in the Action Plan. There are 42 actions in the plan including 9 priority actions. The A=Action Plan takes a multimodal, multi-agency approach that will help establish the strategic and coordinated approach, including establishing an ITS Leadership Forum with government and industry stakeholders — the Forum will take a long-term view and develop a strategic vision for the use of ITS in New Zealand.

The Action Plan contains actions in the following 15 areas:

  • leadership, strategic direction and collaboration
  • investment
  • regulatory review
  • data collection, sharing, security and privacy
  • standards
  • active network management
  • positioning systems
  • geospatial mapping
  • charging and payment systems
  • enabling compliance and targeted enforcement
  • passenger and cargo facilitation and security
  • developing technology skills and exports
  • research and evaluation
  • promoting New Zealand internationally as a test bed for new technologies
  • user interfaces and the challenge of new technologies

Chapter Five provides a table of all of the proposed government actions.

Chapter Six provides a number of examples of different intelligent transport systems and technologies.

How was the ITS Technology Action Plan developed?

The Action Plan was developed by the Ministry of Transport in collaboration with government departments and agencies and the New Zealand ITS sector.

The Ministry first developed a conversation paper designed to seek views from stakeholders as to what they thought the role of government should be in the ITS sector.

Following consultation on the conversation paper, the Ministry developed a draft Action Plan, with 38 different actions in it.

The Ministry then went through a second consultation period. From this feedback, the ITS Technology Action plan was refined and updated, and an extra four actions were added.

Does the Action Plan propose any new spending on ITS?

The Action Plan itself contains no new funding for ITS technologies. Many of these actions are part of existing work programmes. The action plan brings them together into one document.

How does the final ITS Technology Action Plan differ from the draft action plan?

In November 2013, after the release of the draft action plan, which contained 38 action points, we sought comments to ensure that the proposed actions would help identify and remove barriers to the introduction of ITS and to ensure that the government’s strategic aims for ITS in New Zealand were clear. 

We received 25 submissions, all of which were supportive of the Action Plan and proposed government actions. From this feedback we refined the Action Plan further and amended it to take into account the comments. As part of these amendments, we added a further four actions to the Action Plan. These are listed below.

New actions added to the final ITS Technology Action Plan

Target date

Land Information New Zealand, the Ministry of Transport and Maritime New Zealand will develop amendments to Maritime Rules Part 25 to meet the International Maritime Organisation deadlines for the installation of an Electronic Chart Display and Information System.


The NZ Transport Agency and the Ministry, in conjunction with KiwiRail, will monitor international trials being undertaken to improve railway crossing safety.


The Ministry will review current New Zealand legislation relating to driver distraction from in-vehicle technologies.


The Ministry and the NZ Transport Agency will use the Transport Research Hub to coordinate and leverage research activity around ITS technology and technology systems.

2014, then ongoing

How does the final Action Plan differ from the ITS conversation paper?

The Action Plan details the government’s strategic aims for the transport system and how ITS can help to meet these aims.

Development of the Action Plan followed the conversation paper.

What are some examples of existing ITS in New Zealand?

There are active network management systems for land, aviation and maritime transport.

In land transport, traffic operation centres monitor traffic conditions and allow operators to intervene to ensure that congestion is minimised. There are also variable message signs that provide real-time congestion information to drivers and advise users of the actual arrival times of public transport.

Advanced driver assistance systems include lane departure warnings, electronic stability control, collision avoidance, and adaptive cruise control in motor vehicles.

ITS technology is also used for electronic tolling systems on the Northern Gateway Toll Road. Road user charges can also be calculated using electronic distance recorders.

Auckland city is introducing an integrated fare and ticketing system that allows passengers to pay for public transport services using the HOP smart card.

Aviation network management systems direct aircraft movements in controlled airspace. New Southern Sky(external link)

outlines the multi-agency programme to modernise the systems.

In the maritime transport sector, automatic identification systems are used to assist ship navigation.

What is the role of government in the introduction of ITS into New Zealand?

The government recognises the major potential for ITS technology to help achieve its desired transport outcomes, and has already made significant investments in ITS in all modes.

The government will encourage and support further development and deployment of ITS to ensure these benefits are realised for New Zealanders, where they support transport outcomes and provide value for money.

Chapter four of the Action Plan provides more information about the government’s role.

What are the benefits to New Zealand of ITS?

Benefits include safer roads and vehicles, more efficient and safer flight paths, easier ways to comply with requirements such as road user charges, and integrated ticketing for public transport.

What about privacy considerations?

Privacy is being considered from the outset of ITS design. The legal principles in the Privacy Act 1993 will help guide collection and sharing, security and privacy work.

As ITS is based on information processing, the challenge is to determine what data should be collected and how to make it available in a form that meets the needs of the transport sector and encourages innovative and productive uses of it, while protecting privacy.

The collection and storage of data brings with it a responsibility to ensure data is secure. Notably, data security is also a priority of the government’s information and communications technology strategy.

See section 4.4 of the Action Plan ‘Data collection, sharing, security and privacy’ for more information.

Who can I contact with questions?

You can email the Technology and Transport Systems team.

Alternatively, you can phone the Project Manager of the ITS Action Plan on 04 439 9000.