Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Weather Responsive Traveler Information (Wx-TINFO) System Implementation Project
Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) was looking for a fully comprehensive and automated system to provide desired road weather advisories, alerts, and messages to those traveling Michigan’s transportation infrastructure. The previous situation within MDOT comprised several fully functional, yet disparate systems for capturing data for and/or relaying information to the traveling public. The Weather Responsive Traveler Information (Wx-TINFO) project presented the opportunity to tie these systems together, offering enhanced functionality and providing benefits by offering automated messages for weather-related events. The MDOT Wx-TINFO system brings together near real-time weather and environmental information collected from numerous fixed and mobile data sources, including:
- Integrated Mobile Observations (IMO)
- Environmental Sensor Stations (ESS)
- Advanced Applications of Connected Vehicle Data Use Analysis and Processing (DUAP)
- Vehicle-based Information and Data Acquisition System (VIDAS)
- National Weather Service (NWS).
Within the Wx-TINFO system, MDOT’s Data Use Analysis and Processing (DUAP) system processes the weather data and provides automated weather alerts and Dynamic Message Signs (DMS) message recommendations to Transportation Operations Center (TOC) Operators. TOC Operations staff then push out traffic information to the traveling public through the Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS) via DMS and Mi Drive (the MDOT traveler information website).
The initial implementation of the Wx-TINFO System was evaluated to assess its effectiveness and potential to improve Michigan’s traffic management activities. The evaluation process occurred during the 2014–2015 winter season, with data collection throughout the winter for the post-deployment experience and data from prior winter experiences as a baseline.
The following data items were acquired for the evaluation:
- DMS Messages (November 2013 through April 2015)
- DMS Inventory
- Incidents (November 2013 through April 2015)
- NWS Alert Data (January 2013 through July 2015)
- Spatial Data for Michigan State-owned Roads
- Wx-TINFO/DUAP Alerts (November 2014 through April 2015)
- Wx-TINFO/DUAP Alerts to DMS asset link file
- TOC Operators Survey (given to 11 MDOT traffic management professionals in May 2015 after the end of the post-deployment evaluation period
The evaluation focused on three hypotheses associated with the objectives of the system. Table 1 shows the three hypotheses and summary of the primary results associated with each hypothesis.
Table 1: Michigan WRTM Project Evaluation Hypotheses and Summary of Results
|Hypothesis||Summary of Results|
|The system will improve the real-time traffic management capabilities of MDOT TOC Operations staff during weather events.||Six out of seven maintenance regions’ operations during winter weather showed an increase in the average number and percentage of DMSs that display weather-related information during NWS Advisories and Warnings.|
|For DMSs that display weather-related messages during and up to three hours before NWS Advisories and Warnings, the advance notification time remains about the same if not slightly earlier for six out of seven maintenance regions.|
|In a survey of TOC Operators, about half had a favorable impression of the initial system. The provision of advance information was perceived as helpful, and some system changes were suggested. Adjustments were made to the system after the evaluation period to improve performance.|
|The system will improve the timeliness and content of road weather condition reporting updates to the traveling public.||Mi Drive website visits increased by about 20 percent (associated with storms of one inch of snow or greater).|
|Mi Drive website DMS selections (mouse-clicks) was mixed— increased for three regions, remained constant for three regions and decreased for one region (associated with storms of one inch of snow or greater).|
|Travelers responding to the web-based survey indicated the following:
|Weather-related messages during NWS alerts are more likely to contain specific alert terms and travel times, and fewer general announcements such as ICE AND SNOW TAKE IT SLOW and USE EXTREME CAUTION|
|Incident rate decreased for two regions, remained constant for two regions, and increased for two regions.|
|User delay costs during NWS Advisory and Warning alerts decreased statewide (25 to 67 percent).|
|The system will provide road weather condition information that MDOT Maintenance staff perceive as valuable for possible use in road weather maintenance operations.||A limited survey of Maintenance staff indicates the value a Wx- TINFO system could provide during Maintenance operations. In general, roughly half of the respondents had a favorable opinion of the system potential, while others felt that the current system was fine.|
|Staff who supported the system citied the potential for improved accuracy and detail as the reason for increased value, while others perceived potential challenges with interpreting the large quantities of data, and potential distractions for maintenance vehicle drivers|