Q-Free: Wouldn't exist without standards

From the very beginning, Q-Free has applied standards and actively participated­ in standardization work in the field of telematics. Knut Evensen, head of standardization work at Q-Free, says they wouldn't exist in their current form without standards.

If you commute to work in a city, there's a fair chance you have a grey tag hanging behind the rear view mirror in your car's windshield. There's also a fair chance that this tag was developed by Q-Free in Trondheim. This is because they are world leaders in the queue system sector. But things could have been quite different if it wasn't for their very active participation in standardization work.

Standards a part of formal requirements
“Because we work with toll systems at Q-Free, many of our customers are either public authorities themselves or companies working under licence from public authorities. These customers have particularly stringent requirements with respect to how they carry out tenders and developments, and standards are always part of their formal requirements. It is thus important to us to influence the nature of the standards and to know as much as possible on what is going on in terms of standardization in our field,” Knut Evensen says. He is a graduate engineer specializing in telematics and head of standardization work and R&D coordination at Q-Free.

Even service-providing companies with only end-­user customers need to take part in work on standardization. This allows you to obtain information on what is going on in the world early on, and gives you the time to adjust.

Radio standardization is everywhere
Based on his role as head of standardization at Q-Free, he is also head of the workgroup on standar­dization work in ISO, CEN and ETSI (European Telecom Standards Institute). They are responsible for all radio standardization.

“Radio standardization also includes GSM, satellite and all other telecommunications, solutions that are central to our business­,” Evensen says.

Must be there from the start
Ever since Q-Free started using Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) in 1991, they have been active in developing standards in the field.

“It's important to be a part of standardization work from the ­beginning. This allows us to have good products ready, which are right in terms of price, features and standards, when requirements from the ­authorities arrive. This is why we contribute heavily to ITS standards,” says Knut Evensen.

Monitoring new technology
Evensen says that there is plenty of motivation in the company to contribute on standardization, and the reasons are obvious. 

“The products we develop and manufacture require huge investments, they take a long time to produce, and they have to work all over the world and for a long time once they have been made. Additionally, most of our clients are in the public sector, and they have strict formal requirements,” Knut Evensen of Q-Free says, referring to the link to so-called “pre-competitive research,” i.e. pure­ research, to look into new technology and see what's going on in their technological sphere.

Standardization is way ahead
“Q-Free just couldn't exist in the way we do without using standards. We would be a much smaller company than we are today. The interesting thing about standardization work is that it is five to ten years ahead of the major contracts for the public sector. Now we are reaping the benefits of the standardization work we carried out many years ago,” says Knut Evensen.

Resource-intensive work
He describes standardization work as having a lengthy perspective and being somewhat cumbersome, but nevertheless essential to a company like Q-Free that wants to play an important international role. Q-Free uses a lot of resources on standardization.

“It's quite expensive, but definitely worth it,” Evensen says, who also finds it exciting and very interesting to take part in standardization work. “When you're there from the start you really get to ­impact how things will turn out. And these are solutions that eventually have social importance, so it's motivating,” Knut Evensen of Q-Free says.


Q-Free develops road toll systems that are used globally. They work on communication and transaction ­technology and products to make the best possible ­toll systems. The listed Trondheim-­based company, which originated at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, was established in 1984 and currently has 400 employees in 17 different countries.

Knut Evensen

Knut Evensen

Last updated: 2015-06-23