The iFlorida Model Deployment, which was started in May 2003, called for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District 5 (D5) to complete the design, build, and integration of the infrastructure required to support operations in 2 years. The required infrastructure was extensive, spanned numerous stakeholders, and included many technologies that were new to FDOT D5, such as sophisticated traffic management center (TMC) operations software, a wireless network deployed along I-4, an interface to Florida Highway Patrol Computer Aided Dispatch (FHP CAD) data, statewide traffic monitoring, and many others. The iFlorida plans also called for deployment of these technologies in ways that required coordination among more than 20 stakeholders. It was an ambitious plan that would result in dramatically different traffic management operations for FDOT D5 and other transportation stakeholders in the Orlando area.
In implementing the iFlorida plan, FDOT faced many challenges ranging from higher failure rates than expected for some field hardware to difficulties with the Condition Reporting System (CRS) and Central Florida Data Warehouse (CFDW) software. "Despite these challenges, it can be readily claimed that the overall iFlorida Model Deployment was successful," noted in the final evaluation report for the iFlorida Model Deployment, published in January 2009.
The difficulties associated with the iFlorida Model Deployment provided many opportunities to identify lessons learned from the experiences they had. The most important of these are presented below in a series of lessons learned articles.
The primary objectives of the various Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) interfaces to the Florida Highway Patrol Computer Aided Dispatch (FHP CAD) system were to provide the FDOT Regional Traffic Management Center (RTMC) operators with an improved source of FHP incident information, which they could use to support the Central Florida and Statewide 511 systems. The first version of this interface was not very successful, and many operators preferred to refer to the incident information available via the FHP Traffic Crash Reporting Web site rather than rely on the CRS to provide incident information. The second version of this interface (the FHP Data Viewer), however, was successful.
While deploying and operating these systems, FDOT did identify a number of lessons learned that other locales may find useful.
- Work with the Highway Patrol to ensure that practices are in place to enter key information needed by the DOT in the correct fields within the CAD system. The data needs of FHP were different from those of FDOT, so some data fields that were key to FDOT but not key to FHP were not always entered consistently. One example was the road name, which was sometimes entered in the FHP CAD system as part of the free text description rather than in the road name field. FHP cooperated closely with FDOT by encouraging its dispatchers to follow more stringent data entry requirements with respect to these fields.
- Provide mechanism to translate data from the FHP CAD system to values recognized by FDOT. An example was the incident type. Because FHP sometimes revised the list of acceptable values for incident types and their meanings, FHP instituted procedures to ensure that the tables used to translate FHP incident type values to FDOT values would be updated whenever such changes occurred.
- Implement methods to identify and recover dropped messages in case of event-driven messaging. A system that uses event-driven messaging should include methods for identifying and recovering from dropped messages.
To gather statewide traffic-related incident information, iFlorida project developed an interface to the Florida Highway Patrol Computer Aided Dispatch (FHP CAD) system. Developing this interface supported the RTMC operators manage incidents more efficiently to restore and increase mobility in the transportation network.
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