Understand system standards and protocols to save time during the development of an Advanced Traveler Information System (ATIS).

Institutional lessons from a test of a wide-area network to communicate traffic conditions in the Seattle area.

Date Posted

Seattle Wide-area Information For Travelers, Institutional Issues Study

Summary Information

The Seattle Wide-area Information For Travelers (SWIFT) project was an intelligent transportation systems (ITS) Field Operational Test (FOT) conducted over a four-year period from 1993 to 1997. The purpose of the project was to test the efficacy of a high speed data system (HSDS), or FM sub-carrier, to disseminate incident, bus, and speed/congestion information via three different end-user devices: pager watch, portable computer, and in-vehicle navigation device. Six hundred commuters, many with route or mode options, participated in the FOT and provided user-acceptance evaluations.

This lesson is based on findings from the SWIFT Evaluation Report completed by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) in January 1999, with additional input from WSDOT staff involved in the project.

During the SWIFT project, a number of institutional issues were encountered that affected the deployment of project. One issue related to a lack of ITS standards and protocols. The lesson learned was as follows:

  • Modify ITS standards and protocols so that both public and private entities understand and agree on their contents.

During the SWIFT project, confusion about standards and protocols affected the project. For example, some team members felt that early knowledge about and understanding of ITS device message protocols might have saved development time. One public sector member felt that when the project became aware of a protocol that specified up to 1,200 different traffic messages for a traveler information system, it “saved three (3) months” of development effort. A private sector partner, on the other hand, felt that the large number of message types in the ITS protocol caused development within his company to take longer. Such concern about standards and protocol would have been reduced if there had been early knowledge of existing standards during the system planning and project definition process.

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