A literature review and national survey was conducted to identify states and urban areas that had already completed work on ITS maintenance and operations. From this information, best practices were developed that represented the lessons learned and practices implemented (or suggested for implementation) by these states. Another survey was conducted to determine the current state of ITS maintenance and operations in Kentucky. A stakeholder forum was also held to identify problems and potential solutions related to ITS maintenance and operations. In summary, the project consisted of the following tasks: a literature review and national survey; development of best practices; assessment of current operations; a stakeholder forum, and development of the ITS maintenance and operations plan.
Based on the best practices, Kentucky's ITS maintenance and operations assessment survey, and data from the stakeholder forum, 41 specific recommendations were developed. These recommendations were organized into the following categories: planning/management of maintenance and operations; coordination and communications; documentation, tracking, monitoring, and evaluation; procurement; staffing, training, facilities, and equipment; funding; and contracting.
Throughout the early years of ITS deployment, the emphasis was on getting systems deployed, often with little or no attention given to how the systems would be maintained and/or managed. Now, ITS deployers recognize that successful systems depend on good systems engineering practice including the development of sound maintenance and operations requirements, procedures, and plans. Insights from what Kentucky and other states have learned about developing and using maintenance and operations plans include the following.
- Document Maintenance and Operations Activities. Logging maintenance activities helps a state to better understand their maintenance requirements. It also helps to associate a cost for maintenance and therefore better budget for these activities in coming years.
- Develop and Maintain a Cost Database for Maintenance and Operations. In order to effectively budget for ongoing maintenance costs, several states have developed a database to track these costs. In general, the following variables may be considered when estimating an annual cost for maintenance of each ITS element: replacement cycle, warranty period, preventive maintenance, and demand maintenance. To support this effort, a log of all maintenance activities should be kept. The variables that should be considered when estimating the cost of operations include personnel and physical plant requirements (i.e., salaries, benefits, physical plant expenses, equipment, and utilities). Arizona and Maryland are two states that have developed a cost database.
- Analyze Maintenance and Operations Requirements. It is important to analyze current ITS systems and elements to determine the types of maintenance and operations that are required. This is a critical first step in the development of a maintenance and operations plan, since these activities should be linked to staff requirements and associated cost.
- Analyze Staffing Requirements for Maintenance and Operations. A staffing plan identifies the requirements for sufficient, qualified, and experienced staff for maintaining and operating ITS systems. When developing a staffing plan, staffing levels should be based on understanding the needs and intent of the system. As part of the staffing requirements, qualifications and classifications should be developed for key employees. If special skills are needed or cost advantages can be obtained, contracting out to private providers for maintenance and operational services should be considered.
- Develop a Training Program for Maintenance and Operations Personnel. It is important to develop and maintain an on-going training program in order to provide a well-trained staff for maintaining and operating systems. This will help ensure that staff can perform the maintenance and operations duties to which they have been assigned. California’s plan for the Los Angeles area identifies training requirements for staff. Florida also recommends that a training program be developed and maintained.
- Prioritize Maintenance Needs. Oregon has established guidelines in order to prioritize their maintenance requirements. They made two generalizations regarding guidelines developed by other state agencies: (a) Devices are typically prioritized according to their relative importance to the daily operation or integrity of the system, (b) Safety-related or traffic control devices tend to have a higher priority than traveler information devices. In general, stakeholders should be involved with developing guidelines for identifying which repairs should take highest priority.
- Develop and Maintain a Spare Parts Inventory. Some states have developed and maintained an inventory of all ITS system components for maintenance purposes. To allow personnel to do their job in a timely manner, a spare parts inventory should be maintained.
- Develop a Maintenance Plan. A maintenance plan should be developed that addresses: maintenance requirements, staffing and resource gaps, training programs for employees, a spare parts inventory, prioritization of maintenance needs, and preventive maintenance. A preventive maintenance plan should note all materials, equipment, and procedures that are needed to prevent problems with the element or system. A preventive maintenance program should reduce the overall demand maintenance that is necessary.
- Develop an Operations Manual. An operations manual should be provided for system operator reference. This is particularly relevant for traffic management systems. Several states and/or regions have developed this type of manual for their traffic management centers.
Other general recommendations were also identified as part of the "best practices." They include:
- Maintain complete as-built and as-modified drawings and specifications of all system equipment.
- Include maintenance and operations personnel in all phases of the project to ensure that their perspective is included in all phases of the system life cycle.
- Consider maintenance and operations costs when budgeting for projects.
- System maintenance should be given high priority to minimize liability risk.
- Obtain an annual maintenance contract on all computers and other hardware that is not easily supported by agency maintenance staff.
- Maintain a detailed inventory of all system components.
A successful ITS project is not solely dependent on how well the system was designed and deployed, the ongoing success is dependent on how well the system is maintained and operated. Using solutions and strategies discovered in Kentucky's nationwide research can increase efficiency in developing maintenance and operations plans. These solutions and strategies can also improve efficiency and productivity in performing maintenance and operations activities.
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