Module 19 - C101
C101: Introduction to Communications Protocols and their Uses in ITS Applications
HTML of the Student Supplement
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(Extended Text Description: Large graphic cover page with dark blue background with the title in white letters “C101: Introduction to Communications Protocols and their Uses in ITS Applications.” At the middle left is the “Standards ITS Training” logo with a white box and letters in blue and green. The words “Student Supplement” and “RITA Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office” in white lettering are directly underneath the logo. Three light blue lines move diagonally across the middle of the blue background.)
C101: Introduction to Communications Protocols and their Uses in ITS Applications
Table of Contents
This module is a part of the acquisition curriculum path with I101, A101, C101, C201, and C202. The course is designed to provide an overview of the communications process as it is used in the NTCIP Framework. Upon taking this course, a student should be able to understand how the remote management of ITS field devices from a central management station works and how various devices can share the same system environment and be compatible. This will prepare students in understanding device standards used in ITS applications and the testing phase of system acceptance. This module forms the basis for discussion on Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) as used in NTCIP Center-to-Field (C2F) Framework in module C201: Introduction to Simple Network Management Protocol and its Applications in the Field Devices Based on the NTCIP Standards and application level profile standard NTCIP 2306 XML discussed in module C202: Introduction to the Application Level Protocols for Center-to-Center Communications Systems Interface Implementation. The combination is shown below:
Both C101 and C202 modules contents are based on the concepts provided by the C101 module. The C201 module expands on the C2F communications using SNMP interface with the field devices such as Dynamic Message Sign (DMS), Closed-circuit TV (CCTV) and Environmental Senor System (ESS). The C202 module deals with how centers communicate with each other in real-time to exchange information and use that information for management of traffic and emergencies.
The National Transportation Communications for ITS Protocol (NTCIP) family of standards offers two categories of standards for use in data communications standards. When used for remote control of the roadside and other transportation management devices, NTCIP-based devices and software can help achieve interoperability and interchangeability. When used between transportation and emergency management centers, NTCIP standards facilitate agency coordination and information sharing.
This module introduces basic concepts of the International Organization of Standards (ISO) seven layers Open Systems Interconnection Reference Model (OSI-RM), and mapping to the five levels of NTCIP Frameworks, which contain protocols for center-to-field (C2F) and center-to-center (C2C) communication. Modules explain the application of these protocols in deploying field devices such as DMS, CCTV, and ASC without going into details on protocols constructs. In the transportation field, we are concerned with the concepts of compatibility, interoperability, and interchangeability and how to achieve these objectives with NTCIP-based deployments.
NTCIP defines a family of general-purpose communications protocols and transportation-specific data dictionaries/message sets that support most types of computer systems and field devices used in transportation management. Applications for NTCIP are generally divided into two categories: C2F and C2C. The former, C2F, normally involves devices at the roadside, communicating with management software on a central computer. The latter, C2C, usually involves computer-to-computer communications where the computers can be in the same room, in management centers operated by adjacent agencies, or across the country. For both C2F and C2C applications, NTCIP supports systems and devices used in traffic, transit, emergency management, traveler information, and planning (data archiving) systems.
2. NTCIP Framework
The seven layers in the NTCIP framework are somewhat different from communication stack layers defined by ISO's Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) seven-layer Reference Model and other standards developing organizations. The OSI model breaks the communications process into seven well-defined layers. Each layer has a defined purpose, generally independent of adjacent layers. Although OSI communications protocols are not widely used, the layered model remains.
(Extended Text Description: Relevant description from author's notes: NTCIP Framework: A graphic of the communication levels of the NTCIP standards. The bottom level is the Plant Level and includes boxes for Dial-up, Fiber, Coax, Wireless, Twisted Pair, and Leased Line. The next higher level is called the Subnetwork Level and includes PPP, Ethernet, and PMPP. The next level is called the Transport Level and includes TCP/IP, UDP/IP, and T2/NULL. The next level is called the Application Level and includes C2C XML, DATEX, FTP, TFTP, SNMP, and STMP. The next level is called the Information Level and includes C2C Messages, Files, Data Objects, and Dynamic Objects. These boxes are connected to an overarching box also in the Information Level labeled Functional Area Data Dictionaries with the left hand side identifying C2C Data Dictionaries and the right hand side labeled NTCIP Data Dictionaries. )
Figure 1: NTCIP Framework (Source: NTCIP Guide)
The NTCIP Framework as shown in Figure 1 above extends beyond the communications OSI RM stack to include informational data and interfaces to the physical communications infrastructure. The levels and terminology used in NTCIP were chosen for simplicity and ease of understanding by lay readers, and relevance to typical applications in the transportation industry. The OSI layers and terminology are often referenced in later technical sections of this publication and in many of the standards defined by NTCIP. The NTCIP framework shown above contains NTCIP Information, Application, Transport, Subnetwork, and Plant Levels loosely related to the OSI model.
3. List of NTCIP Device Standards (C2F) that Use SNMP
(Reference: www.ntcip.org. Please note that the version numbers may have changed during the documentation updating process.)
Communications: Information transfer among users or processors according to agreed conventions and a branch of technology concerned with the representation, transfer, interpretation and processing of data among persons, places and machines. Further, the meaning assigned to the data must be preserved during these operations.
Data Dictionaries: An organized and constructed (electronic database) compilation of descriptions of data concepts that provides a consistent means for documenting, storing, and retrieving the syntactical form (i.e., representational form) and the meaning and connotation of each data concept (ISO 14817).
Message: A grouping of data elements that encapsulate an idea, concept or thing, or convey information. A basic message encapsulates an idea, concept or thing, and a compound message embeds one or more basic messages and other data elements to convey information.
Dialog: An ordered grouping of messages exchanged between at least two components.
Compatibility: "The ability of two or more systems or components to perform their required functions while sharing the same hardware or software environment." Ref. IEEE 610 Std. (Ref.4)
Interoperability: IEEE Standard Glossary of Software Engineering Terminology (IEEE 610 standard, Ref.4) defines interoperability as the ability of two or more systems or components to exchange information and to use the information that has been exchanged.
Interchangeability: A condition which exists when two or more items possess such functional and physical characteristics as to be equivalent in performance and durability, and are capable of being exchanged one for the other without alteration of the items themselves, or adjoining items, except for adjustment, and without selection for fit and performance. (Ref. National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce)
Management System: The technology used to manage a network. Usually Network Management Station (NMS) is referring to the management of networking specific devices such as routers, or in NTCIP devices in the field. In the context of the NTCIP, NMS refers to all devices including end systems that are present on the network or inter network. Figure 2 introduces an SNMP model used in the NTCIP C2F communications.
(Extended Text Description: SNMP Model: The figure conveys that the SNMP Model consists of SNMP Manager and SNMP Agent. This is shown in two large boxes. The box one on left is called a Management System. In this box with light boundary lie three sub-boxes: a square box is SNMP Manager, an arrow from this leads to a cylindrical shape marked as a MIB. A rectangular box is called Central Application system is shown below SNMP Manager. Together, these three parts are called Management Station. The large box on the Right is called “Managed device”. In that box, lie three parts: SNMP Agent, MIB and Device firmware. A one way arrow from SNMP is connecting to MIB, a two way arrow from ANMP Agent connects to Device Firmware. Together, these parts work with each other inside the device being managed. There are three one way arrows shown from the first large box-SNMP Manager connecting to SNMP Agent. This implies three commands performed by SNMP Manager. There are two one way arrows from SNMP Agent to SNMP Manager are shown-which implies two commands an agent performs.)
Figure 2: SNMP Model
SNMP Network Model Key Parts
SNMP Agent Process
Agent Process Context Diagram
Instrumentation Routines are part of the agent, check if the object is in the MIB, verifies access, and knows where the object is located (and retrieve or set its value)
(Extended Text Description: This figure has both text and block diagram shown to convey how an SNMP Agent in the device works. Agent is software module that receives messages from the SNMP Manager though UDP transport stack and processes the messages. UDP is shown in square box that connects to a circle which is SNMP Agent process. A two way arrow connects MIB (shown as cylindrical shape) to this Agent process. A two way arrow connects SNMP agent process to Instrumentation Routines and device internals. This is called access mechanism. )
Figure 3: SNMP Agent Process Context Diagram
OID: Object Identifier is the unique name (identifier) that is associated with each type of data element in an MIB. This is a defined ASN.1 type. "A value (distinguishable from other such values) that is associated with an object identifier type. A simple type whose distinguished values are the set of all object identifiers allocated in accordance with the rules of [ASN.1]." The number or address by which a data element may be located on the NTCIP or TCIP object tree. The OID generation is shown in Figure 5.
Protocol Data Unit (PDU): PDU is a part of transmitted data that contains information used by the protocol at a particular layer in the OSI stack. SNMP has three outbound PDUs to agent and two PDUs from agent to the SNMP manager.
Port Number: Identifies an application-entry to a transport service in the Internet suite of protocols. The concept of ports is often present in OSI literature; however, ports are not Internet standards, but exist as local network conventions only.
How Object Identifier (OID) is Derived?
OID is an unique number derived from the Global (ISO) tree
(Extended Text Description: Numeric display shows a decimal separated string of digits: 18.104.22.168.4.1.122.214.171.124.1.1. Each digit corresponds to decimal separated nominal display phrase as: iso.org.dod.internet.priavte.enterprise.nema.transportaion.devices. asc.phase.maxphase. Both are shown connect to each other with slanted lines. The meaning of this diagram is that object OID is generated using the Internet tree-structure. )
Figure 4: Object Identification Tree Structure
VarBind and VarBindList (Variable Binding)
varBind and VarBindList
(Extended Text Description: This figure shows rectangular array; VarBind 1 is placed in a box with two small sub-boxes: name and value. Both are shown with green shading. Next box repeats as VarBind 2 and dotted line shows last box as Var-bind n. This conveys that a VarBind list is made of series of VarBinds. The term VarBind means: Name and value of a variable form a binding and move as pair payload or data message PDU. )
Figure 5: VarBind and VarBind List
5. Center-to-Center Terminology
System Interface (SI): The IEEE Standard Glossary of Software Engineering Terminology (IEEE 610 Standard) defines an interface as a shared boundary across which information is passed. A shared boundary is integrated with the local system applications and termed as a system interface. Typically, an SI can be integrated with the Application Programming Interface (API) of the Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS), allowing communication to and from the Transportation Management Center (TMC) or an application. We can see in Figure 6 how operation is conducted as input/output messages though a system interface built with the Traffic Management Data Dictionary (TMDD).
(Extended Text Description: The figure shows a big rectangle in which a circle is shown marked as Center System. This circle is separated by a solid line. Next are two small circles each marked as OP1 and OP2. Both have one way arrow coming in as Message Input and one way arrow going out as Message Output. Underneath the two OP circle is the text box for System Interface. This conveys that the operations performed by the system interface use two messages, one incoming-one outgoing. This process is called operation. )
Figure 6: System Interface Operations
Web service: A Web service is traditionally defined by the W3C as "a software system designed to support interoperable machine-to-machine interaction over a network." It has an interface described in a machine-processable format (specifically Web Services Description Language WSDL). Other systems interact with the Web service in a manner prescribed by its description using SOAP messages, typically conveyed using HTTP with an XML serialization in conjunction with other Web-related standards. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web service - cite note-0 (http://www.w3.org/TR/ws-gloss/).
The Web service concept is now part of NTCIP 2306 XML Profile (It is not part of NTCIP 2304 DATEX Profile, which does not use the Internet as a network). A Web service is any service (operation equivalent to functions) that is available over the Internet or on Intranet. A Web service is between two or more applications, and it is called machine-centric for that reason.
SOAP: A lightweight (simple) XML-based communication protocol for exchanging structured information between distributed applications over native Web protocols, such as HTTP. SOAP specifies the format that XML messages should use (in the case of ITS by referring the XML schemas of each standard); the way in which they should be processed; a set of encoding rules for standard and application-defined data types; and a convention for representing remote procedure calls and responses.
NTCIP 2306 XML Application Profile
Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) (Used in C2C)
User Datagram Protocol/Internet Protocol (UDP/IP) Used in C2F
Papers, Reports on ITS Standards
Published Guides on NTCIP Family and Other ITS Standards Information
7. Study Questions
Question 1: Center-to-Field (C2F) Device Data Standards are located at:
Question 2: NTCIP 12xx Device Standards Provide:
Question 3: To gather data from a detector station, the central SNMP Manager initiates:
Question 4: Which of the following protocols is used for monitoring a DMS?
Question 5: Which of the following is NOT an applicable standard to C2C?