The costs to operate and maintain the Kentucky 511 Traffic and Travel Information System tourism service for 2003 to 2006 was $4,138,213.
Made Public Date

Summary Information

The Kentucky 511 Traffic and Travel Information System was expanded to include tourism information services in Southern and Eastern Kentucky through ITS Integration Program fiscal year 2002 funds. A team of members from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, the Center for Rural Development, and the Southern and Eastern Kentucky Tourism Development Association (SEKTDA) implemented the project. The 511 Tourism Service call center became operational in November 2003 with the first call being placed on December 3, 2003.

The existing Kentucky 511 information system provided traffic, construction, and weather information for Kentucky travelers. The system expansion provided travelers with tourism information such as special events, local points of interest, and concierge services for hotel and restaurant reservations. A private-sector firm was brought under contract for call center development and operations.

Kentucky was the second state to offer tourism and travel-related services through its 511 information system. The University of Kentucky conducted an independent evaluation of the system expansion; the results were documented in a report which will be useful to other states considering implementing similar premium services. Cost information related to the implementation and launch of the Southern and Eastern Kentucky 511 Tourism Service was provided by SEKTDA and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and included in the evaluation report. The costs information for state fiscal years 2003 to 2006 was provided and is excerpted below.

Kentucky Fiscal Year
FY 2003
FY 2004
FY 2005
FY 2006
Total Cost
511 Tourism Signs (Est.)
511 Tourism Local Evaluation
KYTC Technical Assistance
ITS Project Architecture
24 Dedicated IVR outbound Ports
3 Desktop PCs and Printer
Total Implementation Cost
Operations (Annual Cost)
8xx Telephone Service (Est.)
Information Call Center
Call Center Office Space
511 Marketing and Outreach
511 Website and GIS Integration
SEKTDA Training and Travel
Total Operations Cost


All costs in the above table are through November 30, 2005 with the exception of the 8xx (toll free) telephone service costs which are through September 30, 2005. Both implementation and operations and maintenance costs are provided.

Implementation Costs: The total cost of implementing the project was $361,760; each component identified in the table is described below.

Roadside signs alerting motorists about the 511 Tourism Service were deployed at a cost of $140,000.

The total costs for the evaluation was $85,000.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet supported a variety of administrative and technical activities for the project. Although costs are shown only for the first two state fiscal years ($75,000), support continued through 2006. Support activities included:



    • Budget, contract, and project management, as well as marketing and outreach with SEKTDA
    • Liaison with the Condition and Reporting System-511 (CARS-511) System Manager and the Kentucky 511 Tourism Call Center
    • Coordinate the siting, preparation, and installation of about 460 511 Travel and Tourists signs in the project area
    • Contract with the Kentucky Transportation Center (KTC) for the independent evaluation and to update the Statewide ITS Architecture
    • Work with EKTDA and the private-sector firm to insure open GIS architecture (ESRI based) in the 511 tourism database and website development.

The cost to update the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s Statewide ITS Architecture to incorporate the 511 Tourism Service was $20,000.

Costs for call center interactive voice response (IVR) and computer equipment was $41,760.

Operations and Maintenance Costs: The total cost of operations and maintenance was $4,138,213; each component is described below.

Costs for the 8xx (toll free) telephone charges are estimated, and cover the period through November 30, 2005. The estimated cost for this line item is $4,900.

The Information Call Center line item includes equipment purchased and used by SEKTDA for use in this project, mainly for the collection of project area tourism data. For state fiscal years 2004 and 2005, the main charge to this item included the private-sector firm contract equipment charges used in the Call Center. The total cost was $531,034.

Costs for the Call Center office space rent and utilities totaled $217,448.

Staffing costs include the private-sector contractor call center personnel and salaries for SEKTDA staff supporting the project. Beginning September 1, 2005, costs for the private-sector staffing was loaded to include equipment use. Total staffing cost was $2,032,335. Given that the call center model called for live operators, it is not surprising that staffing cost is the major cost driver for the project. The research team later discovered users expressed preference for talking to an actual person when calling the 511Tourism Service. The 511 Tourism Service call center operates from 6:00 am until 11:00 pm.

Marketing and outreach costs totaled $361,157. By March 2005, SEKTDA had begun an aggressive marketing campaign which included media such as 511 signage, television and radio ads, newspaper and magazine advertising, and 511 brochures.

The total cost for the 511 Website and Geographic Information System (GIS) Integration was $984,835 and was the second major cost driver for the project. The 511 website and GIS integration line item included data compilation and categorization, migration to the database, and website development. Software development included a website for the public and an internal database for the 511 Tourism Service operators.

SEKTDA training and travel costs totaled $6,504. As previously mentioned, because users preferred talking with a person, ensuring the Tourism Service operators were properly trained on the call center system and the local tourism information was considered important. Although the private-sector firm has an operator training process in-place for its regular call center operations, training on tourism-specific information was added. This was accomplished via on-site training. Operators visited some of the attractions and properties included in the tourism database. Operators not only became well-versed and enthused about the tourism offerings, but the property owners became more aware of and the benefits of being included in the 511 Tourism Service database.


System Cost

Implementation Costs for the 511 Tourism Service: $361,760. Operations and Maintenance for the 511 Tourism Service: $4,138,213.