Program management experience during the Safety Pilot Model Deployment in Ann Arbor, Michigan
Safety Pilot Model Deployment: Lessons Learned and Recommendations for Future Connected Vehicle Activities
The Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot was a research program that demonstrated the readiness of DSRC-based connected vehicle safety applications for nationwide deployment. The vision of the Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot Program was to test connected vehicle safety applications, based on vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications systems using dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) technology, in real-world driving scenarios in order to determine their effectiveness at reducing crashes and to ensure that the devices were safe and did not unnecessarily distract motorists or cause unintended consequences.
The Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot was part of a major scientific research program run jointly by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and its research and development partners in private industry. This research initiative was a multi-modal effort led by the Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office (ITS JPO) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), with research support from several agencies, including Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and Federal Transit Administration (FTA). This one-year, real-world deployment was launched in August 2012 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The deployment utilized connected vehicle technology in over 2,800 vehicles and at 29 infrastructure sites at a total cost of over $50 million dollars in order to test the effectiveness of the connected vehicle crash avoidance systems. Overall, the Safety Pilot Program was a major success and has led the USDOT to initiate rulemaking that would propose to create a new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) to require V2V communication capability for all light vehicles and to create minimum performance requirements for V2V devices and messages.
Given the magnitude of this program and the positive outcomes generated, the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center conducted a study sponsored by the ITS JPO to gather observations and insights from the Safety Pilot Model Deployment. This report represents an analysis of activities across all stages of the Safety Pilot Model Deployment including scoping, acquisitions, planning, execution, and evaluation. The analysis aimed to identify specific accomplishments, effective activities and strategies, activities or areas needing additional effort, unintended outcomes, and any limitations and obstacles encountered throughout the Model Deployment. It also assessed the roles of organizations and the interactions among these organizations in the project. Findings were used to develop recommendations for use in future deployments of connected vehicle technology. Information for this analysis was gathered from a combination of over 70 participant interviews and a review of program documentation. It is anticipated that findings from this study will be valuable to future USDOT research programs and early adopters of connected vehicle technology.
The report contains numerous lessons across many topics, including program management, outreach and showcase, experiment setup, DSRC device development, device deployment and monitoring, and data management.
Program managers involved with conducting the connected vehicle safety pilot model deployment (SPMD) found it important to define critical activities that are necessary to support the primary objectives of the program. The SOW was structured in a modular fashion. Essentially, the project was broken down into smaller, flexible and more numerous components, making it easier to assign them to different contractors and move components of the project around in the schedule. Categories of vehicles and device types were treated somewhat like a ‘mini-projects’ with stages and milestones, as compared to looking at the SPMD as a whole, with key stages such as design, development, testing, and deployment where each aspect of this process could not be commenced until the previous stage was completed. A modular approach also made it easier to implement changes and improvements from lessons learned as the project progressed. This approach allowed project resources to be focused on the critical activities first, and then address the less critical activities at points in the project when resources were more readily available. While this approach reduced the risk of reliance on a single resource, it did necessitate frequent collaboration between project partners and contractors.
Some of the related recommendations made in the report include:
- Ensure that all contractors are aware of the prioritized objectives and the relationships of the critical supporting tasks and activity dependencies during the planning phase.
- Identify all project deliverables at the start of the project and prioritize which are critical for the success of the project.
- Directly link deliverables to specific activities or milestones to ensure that multiple revisions of deliverables are not required.
- Plan and conduct in-person working meetings leading up to all key events as a way to coordinate activities and quickly resolve any issues. Ensure that all the key project stakeholders are involved in the meetings to ensure real-time decision-making.