The NTCIP protocol is an industry wide standard data communications protocol, designed to facilitate interoperability and interchangeability between computers and electronic traffic control equipment from different manufacturers.
Each layer of the protocol provides an increasing level of detail as to how information should be transferred and received. It explains the logical progression of the process, what to do with the information and in what order to do it.
5 Levels of NTCIP Protocol
NTCIP defines both the method of transferring information and also the functionality of the field device, answering questions such as: what communications hardware is to be supported? How is the data to be packetized, sent, and verified? What optional functions must the field device support, such as sign display colors, camera labels, and weather station sensors?
There are five defined levels that makeup NTCIP. These include: information level, application level, transport level, subnetwork level, and plant level.
- Information Level defines the meaning of the data and represents the functionality of the system.
- Application Level defines the rules for exchanging data. It is responsible for the sequence of statements in order to form a complete thought or sentence.
- Transport Level defines the rules and procedures for exchanging the application data, including any necessary routing, assembly or reassembly of a message and network management functions.
- Subnetwork Level defines the rules and procedures for exchanging data between two devices over a chosen communications media.
- Plant Level The Plant Level is shown in the NTCIP Framework only as a means of providing a point of reference to those learning about NTCIP. It includes the communications infrastructure over which NTCIP communications standards are to be used.
Mastering NTCIP takes effort and there are not a wide range of classes or books to choose from when it comes to learning the protocol. Having an understanding of programming languages and the basics of networking are the best places to start.
There are some online resources you can leverage to gain a working knowledge of NTCIP. These include the NTCIP 9001 “Guide” for detailed deployment and NTCIP procurement information, the NTCIP Forums, which provide a channel for both technical and non-technical people to discuss the NTCIP and the Library Table, which has links to the status information, drafts, and jointly approved standards.
All NTCIP standards are published on the NTCIP website and webinars that define both the standard itself, testing to the standard, and individual standards for specific devices are often available.