Sample costs collected by the 511 Deployment Coalition represent what deployers may encounter when planning or implementing a 511 system.
Made Public Date


United States

Summary Information

The 511 Coalition collected cost data representative of actual 511 deployments from around the U.S. that can apply to either a state or metropolitan area. Costs are broken down by five general categories applicable to the development phase and operations & maintenance phase. Deploying agencies do not necessarily use these same accounting categories; however, example costs that fall within or close proximity to these general categories are presented so the reader has insight into some costs that may be encountered when planning or implementing a 511 system. The five cost categories presented are: labor, equipment, telecommunications, 511 content upgrades, and marketing. A brief description of each cost category and sample costs excerpted from the brochure are presented below.

The labor category includes personnel that are working on and providing support to the 511 system. Personnel costs include program management, research on existing 511 systems (e.g., scanning tours by management and technical personnel to existing 511 deployments), training on new software and hardware, policy/procedure development, and consultants hired to assist with the initial phases and operation of the 511 system. Generally, labor costs are highest in the earlier phases of 511 deployment.

Sample Labor Costs
2 scanning tours of 511 deployments to gather information
Internal DOT IT department labor charges

The equipment category includes software and hardware purchased for the 511 system and also includes associated upgrades and expansions to integrate existing traveler information systems with the 511 system. Recurring costs after the system has been deployed typically involve software license renewals and hardware upgrades.

Sample Equipment Costs
Text-to-speech and voice recognition software
Completely new traveler information system hardware and software

Because 511 is a telephone based system, there are telecommunications cost associated with the system both in initial implementation and operations. Central office reprogramming and switching fees vary between telecommunication providers. Tariffs, toll free lines, and call transfers continue throughout the operations of the system as do management of cell tower issues.

Telecommunications Costs
Fees for one telecommunication company to transfer 511 calls telco in one metro area
Programming of telecommunications equipment to properly direct 511 calls throughout one state

The costs associated with complying with the 511 Deployment Coalition Guidelines with regard to content of the 511 system are included in the 511 content upgrades category. Examples of costs included in 511 content preparation include Internet bandwidth charges, telephony charges, and fees for content transmission or reception.

Sample 511 Content Upgrades Costs
Integration of telephony with IVR technology
Addition of metro area to existing database

The 511 marketing cost include the initial and ongoing costs of outreach and advertisement to the traveling community. Costs include initial focus groups and surveys, signage/brochures, radio and television advertisement, as well as any public forum promotion/events. These costs will vary depending on the size of the service area, 511 content, and other factors. Call volume can increase based on related elements of a marketing campaign.

Sample Marketing Costs
511 advertisement in 350,000 travel guides
Signage, brochure, other collateral

The costs to design, build, and implement 511 traveler information systems can vary widely depending on the size of the system and availability of existing operational traveler information systems (e.g., web sites, transit call centers, road condition hotlines). Since most areas can leverage parts of the existing infrastructure to establish 511, they will not have to build a system from scratch. In California, the estimated payback of comprehensive statewide traveler information was estimated to be $100 in benefits to travelers for every $1 invested over the next 20 years by utilizing the data generated in other infrastructure systems.

Average development costs and cost-per call measures that account for operations and maintenance costs have been recognized as useful comparative measures to assist deployers with developing appropriate budgets. Data collected from several statewide and metropolitan systems show the average development cost is $415,683 (ranging from $133,000 to $1,028,000), and the average cost-per-call is $1.08 (ranging from $0.12 to $2.84).

The Value of Deploying 511

The Value of Deploying 511
Publication Sort Date
The 511 Deployment Coalition
The 511 Deployment Coalition
Other Reference Number
Report No. 04174-PL-04

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System Cost

See summary