The Southern Nevada Traffic Management Center (TMC) is the hub of traffic communications for the Southern Nevada region. It houses four distinct agencies—the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT), the Nevada Highway Patrol (NHP), the Nevada Department of Public Safety (DPS-NHP dispatch), and FAST (a division of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada)— with each overseeing a different part of freeway and arterial operations but relying on similar kinds of information. Although housed in the same facility and working in related operations, these agencies did not have a collective platform for real-time data sharing. As a result, traffic managers did not always have access to valuable information, which impacted their ability to respond to incidents. To mitigate this dilemma and improve response, the agencies launched an experimental pilot in 2017.
The agencies decided to try Waycare, an AI-driven, cloud-based system that leverages data and artificial intelligence to facilitate multi-agency communications integration. The platform aggregates real-time and historical traffic incident information, based on data from social media feeds, crowdsourcing applications, and in-vehicle telematics. The platform was customized through a series of in-depth immersion sessions of platform developers working with TMC technicians, Freeway Service Patrol (FSP) drivers, dispatchers and law enforcement to understand the existing processes, incident responsibilities and information flows (both internally and externally) between the four agencies. This immersion and development process took approximately three months, over the summer of 2017. Then, the agencies deployed the technology in three phases.
- Phase 1: FAST traffic engineering technicians and DPS-NHP were the first to deploy the platform on a small scale in September 2017. NHP vehicles were outfitted with Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL) devices so all units could be tracked. NHP troopers would log in to the web-based platform from their vehicle’s computers and see the active and pending incidents, along with their precise GPS locations and incident details, which reduced radio chatter. If a CCTV camera was available within the immediate vicinity of the incident, FAST technicians could position the cameras to view the incident and embed a 30-second long video of the incident scene. By providing troopers with a video of the incident scene, they could make decisions regarding resources and approach methods prior to arrival. Additionally, NHP command staff were able to see the locations of their entire squad, allowing them to determine whether the troopers were on-scene or en route to incidents. Within the first few weeks of the pilot, the cross-agency sharing of this location data resulted in a substantial decrease to incident response times.
- Phase 2: NDOT’s FSP vehicles were included in the next phase of the structured implementation process. FSP vehicles were outfitted with AVL devices and in-vehicle tablets to allow vehicle tracking and platform use respectively. Since FSP entered incident data directly into their tablets, this eliminated the need for paper forms in the field. Additionally, other users could quickly use the data since it uploaded in near real-time.
- Phase 3: NDOT’s Las Vegas roads (LVROADS) dispatchers were part of the last phase of the structured implementation process. The LVROADS dispatchers were able to log disabled and abandoned vehicle calls into the Waycare platform, which expanded trooper access to real-time data. Additionally, the dispatchers oversaw the FSP incident calls and dispatched FSP based on priority.
Prior to the platform, FAST sent out traffic alerts to the public via Twitter, text, and email. Traffic alerts are now an automated feature in the platform. Additionally, traffic alert subscriptions via email, text, and Twitter have greatly increased.
Waycare has enhanced existing Southern Nevada traffic alerts sent to the public. When Waze users post crash information into the app, it is provided in near real-time to the platform for verification. Once confirmed through a one-click operation, FAST sends out these traffic alerts, which include information on the exact location of the crash and impacts to the roadway. These alerts are also pushed back to the Waze app as a "TMC-verified" crash.
The Waycare platform has also:
- Demonstrated an average 12-minute reduction in incident response times.
- Fostered real-time sharing of incident information across agencies, disciplines, responders, and the public. This information has allowed the public to make alternative route choices which relieves stress on impacted areas and facilities.
- Demonstrated a substantial reduction in secondary crashes from real-time travel information sharing.