The FRAME Architecture (officially called the European ITS Framework Architecture) was developed as a result of recommendations from the High Level Group on transport telematics, which were supported by a resolution of the Council of Ministers. It was created by the EC funded project KAREN (1998-2000) and first published in October 2000. The underlying aim of this initiative was to promote the deployment of (mainly road-based) ITS in Europe by producing a framework which would provide a systematic basis for planning ITS implementations, facilitate their integration when multiple systems were to be deployed, and help to ensure inter-operability, including across European borders.
Because the FRAME Architecture is intended for use within the European Union it conforms to the precepts of subsidiarity, and thus does not mandate any physical or organisational structure on a Member State. It comprises a set of User Needs and a Functional Viewpoint only (the User Needs providing a form of requirements for the functionalities contained within the Functional Viewpoint). Most users will only use a sub-set of the FRAME Architecture and a methodology, now supported by computer-based tools, was developed to do this effectively by the EC funded FPV project FRAME-S (2001-04).
After its creation, and in order to enable others to use the FRAME Architecture, it was recognised that a centre of knowledge would be required to which potential users could put questions, from which they could receive training in its use, and which would keep the Architecture up-to-date with the evolution of ITS. This was provided very successfully from 2001 until 2004 by the EC funded projects (FRAME-NET and FRAME-S). The FRAME-NET project provided User Forums and collected and collated the experiences of FRAME Architecture users. The FRAME-S project maintained the FRAME Architecture, produced two tools to assist with its use, and provided many nations and projects with advice. As a result, they were then able to make, or are making, plans to employ the Architecture. Between 2005 and 2008, the start of the E-FRAME project, some limited support for existing and potential users of the FRAME Architecture was provided through the FRAME Forum.
At the time of the KAREN project, the FRAME Architecture had already been adopted as the basis for the French national ITS Architecture (ACTIF), and was subsequently adopted as the basis for the Italian national ITS Architecture (ARTIST). Other nations that have used FRAME since then include Austria (TTS-A), the Czech Republic (TEAM), Hungary (HITS) and Romania (NARITS). In addition a number of specific ITS Architectures have been created in the UK including one for Transport for Scotland and another for the County of Kent. More recently, part of Transport for London has been using the FRAME Architecture to plan its future ITS deployments. In a few cases, e.g. VIKING and the COOPERS IP, it has also been used by R&D projects.
During the FRAME projects, and from experience with other ITS architecture activities in Europe and elsewhere, a number of important lessons have been learned, the most important one being:
- The need to keep an ITS Architecture up to date: If it is to remain useful, an ITS Architecture must be kept constantly maintained. The aim of the original KAREN project was to define ITS User Needs until at least 2010, but some parts of ITS have evolved more rapidly and radically than had been foreseen.
Although the User Needs were updated during the early part of the FRAME projects (2002/3), the FRAME Architecture contains only a few references to more recent ITS developments, such as those associated with the Intelligent Vehicle or eSafety initiatives. One particular and highly significant area – in which the European Commission has invested very heavily since 2006 – is called “Cooperative Systems” (as they involve vehicle-vehicle and/or vehicle-to-infrastructure communication), and it was not covered by the original FRAME Architecture. Filling this gap was one of the principal objectives of the E-FRAME project (2008-11).