Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) Road Condition Reporting Application for Weather Responsive Traffic Management: Final Report
The U.S. DOT FHWA partnered with the Wyoming DOT (WYDOT) to develop a weather responsive traffic management (WRTM) application to improve the way WYDOT maintenance personnel report road weather data, recommend variable speed limit (VSL) changes, and report traffic incidents. The new application designed to operate on tablet computers enabled maintenance staff to connect to Wyoming’s statewide communication system backbone called WyoLink.
The initial implementation was evaluated from January through May 2015 to assess the effectiveness of the application installed on 20 tablets used by plow truck drivers and other staff operating on the I-80 and I-25. The evaluation included quantitative and qualitative analysis including "with-without" methodology. The methodology compared activities using the new application versus the traditional/standard method of using the radio for reporting. Quantitative analysis focused on time spent receiving, logging, and processing reports and actions between the two methods. Qualitative analysis focused on two surveys – one completed by TMC operators and the other by maintenance employees. The survey focused on perceptions, ease of use, overall impressions, and the benefits and shortcoming of the technology.
Key lessons learned are highlighted below.
- Fully define requirements for positional information. Positional information is very important for maintenance employees (particularly in a blinding snowstorm). A local SQL Lite database with positional data may be required if a GIS application program interface is too slow to support near real-time road condition reporting applications.
- Test communication systems early. Using the data channel of the WyoLink radio network proved to be more difficult than anticipated. Bugs in communications software not realized prior to the release of the application delayed the project by months.
- Plan for extensive outreach and training. Significant effort should be invested to inform the TMC operators and maintenance staff about the new system.
Although the deployment was technically complex and required intense management attention, the application improved the effectiveness and efficiency of WYDOT road condition reporting activities and TMC operations.