Ensure that team members clearly understand contractual systems to facilitate a public/private project.

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 set of issues related to limitations in the equipment procurement process and a lack of understanding about the overall contracting process. Lessons learned were as follows:

  • Define the procurement and acquisition processes to facilitate, not hinder, ITS deployments. An ill-defined procurement process may have contributed to problems during the SWIFT project, such as the acquisition of computers unsuitable for the project. This cost the SWIFT project some time and money that could have been used for better purposes. Strong leadership may have helped avoid getting entangled in this kind of problem. In addition, it would have been helpful to clarify the goals of certain activities to minimize other, “unproductive” activities . Development of detailed proposals or plans from the very beginning would have minimized the chance of acquiring unsuitable equipment later in the project.
  • Clarify government contracting and auditing requirements for private sector ITS partnership team members. Providing examples, in advance, of different types of contracts and advance information about contract and auditing issues would have facilitated the negotiation process between public and private organizations. Instead, the project experienced “phased deployment” because contract problems resulted in different ITS devices being available for deployment at different times.

Both procurement and contracting concerns delayed SWIFT. Ensuring that all public and private team members were provided with information about ITS agreements in advance would have reduced delay. Similarly, defining project goals early in the process would have helped guide the procurement of devices suitable for the project.

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