Through the U.S. Department of Transportation's (U.S. DOT) SafeTrip-21 Initiative, the U.S. DOT tested a variety of technologies in a number of locations in California as well as along the I-95 corridor on the east coast. The work was summarized in a final report dated March 2011. This report presents the findings of the independent national evaluation of eight ITS applications. Part I of the report provides an overview of the initiative and the evaluation activities. Part II summarizes each application that was tested and the related evaluation findings. Part III synthesizes the evaluation findings across four topics relevant to the ITS community - collecting and using traffic conditions data, providing real-time traffic information to drivers, providing multi-modal travel information to travelers, and providing safety information to drivers.
The SafeTrip-21 Initiative captured many lessons learned during the evaluation of eight ITS applications some of the lessons focused on the user experience including how information is designed and delivered, how information is marketed, user information privacy, and how users make decisions based on information provided. Below are some of the lessons learned during the evaluation of the SafeTrip-21 initiative that focus on information management and customer satisfaction:
Identify aspects of information delivery and design which appeal to users and improve the user experience. When presenting travel information to travelers, the user experience is critical to success. The SafeTrip-21 Initiative highlighted the importance of adopting a customer-oriented approach to travel information and recognized that customers had varying needs.
The importance of assessing user needs early and often should not be underestimated.
- Users expect an efficient and usable interface for receiving travel information.
- Stakeholder relationships will not necessarily be transparent to users. For example, information kiosks may serve multiple purposes including traveler needs.
Explore issues of privacy related to user acceptance. Concerns over relinquishing privacy can be a potential pitfall for many ITS related technologies. The evaluation considered the ways in which the SafeTrip-21 partners addressed this and identified potential factors for success.
- Creative privacy protection procedures can be reassuring to users of personal devices providing probe data.
- Reciprocity and transparency related to the collection of personal information are potential success factor for ensuring acceptance by travelers.
Highlight the increasing role of traditional and innovative marketing in transportation systems. Marketing related to the SafeTrip-21 deployments turned out to be a more significant issue than anticipated. Marketing entails a variety of techniques for making users aware of opportunities to access a particular application, including traditional press releases, advertisements, or direct invitations for participation. Marketing of travel information systems was critical to success regardless of the method by which the information is accessed by the public.
- Providing travel information in public places necessitates creativity to make potential users aware of the service.
- Social media is an increasingly powerful tool, especially in promoting mobile applications.
- Traditional press releases are still effective in reaching large media outlets.
- Marketing efforts should not only be directed at consumers but at transportation professionals' networks.
Explore ways to support users in making cross-mode travel decisions. Promoting transit alternatives is a continuing transportation need. The SafeTrip-21 Initiative focused on trying to make travelers aware of their options and make it easy for them to plan trips that minimize the use of a personal vehicle.
- Travelers place value on being able to compare real-time choices from a single source in part because it increased their confidence in their decisions.
- It is difficult to assess mode shift.
The evaluation findings in the National Evaluation of the Safetrip-21 Initiative final report indicate that the SafeTrip-21 Initiative has advanced its goals of expanding research related to vehicle connectivity in the wireless communications environment; advancing ITS applications; and exploring benefits of deployment-ready applications that provide enhanced safety, real-time information, and navigation assistance. These findings along with the lessons learned provide a valuable resource to those considering the implementation of ITS applications for improved traffic operations and management.
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