Institutional integration is key to the success of ITS projects. It is often difficult to bring agencies and other stakeholders together and sustain the relationships required to effect efficient deployment and operation of a system. Institutional and jurisdictional issues can be far more complex than the technical integration of an ITS project. Florida's ITS Integration Guidebook offers the following suggestions to foster cooperation of the stakeholders when building institutional integration:
- Involve a wide range of participants. Developing a coalition of involved organizations remains a key requirement that should be viewed and fostered as a continual process. Not all stakeholders are members of organizations, but it is mainly the cooperating organizations' planners and implementers, and the ITS consultants and vendors, who are the stakeholders that regularly contribute to ITS development. The range of these organizations includes: transportation, public safety, emergency management, telecommunications agencies, information service providers, and commercial movers of goods. Broadening stakeholder involvement is important because the value of the information disseminated through the systems (connected by way of the RIA) is progressively enhanced as it is used more.
- Core stakeholders should be people that plan, own or operate ITS systems in their region. They may include representatives from a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), traffic operations department of a DOT, local traffic engineers, transit operators, and emergency management organizations. The more these participating organizations cooperate, communicate, share ideas and information, and solve problems together, the greater the success for ITS integration.
- In addition, the civic leaders, lobbyists, and advocates bridge institutional gaps. They educate and inform others, promote the ITS program in the region, seek funding, and help obtain additional resources. They are often regional personages such as a county commissioner, a congressman, an MPO director, or a nationally recognized expert who is a local resident. They typically become experts, themselves, on ITS topics, but are just as often supported by dedicated staff that provide background and factual information.
- For example, the Phoenix metropolitan area cross-jurisdictional traffic signal coordination project demonstrated several levels of integration, emphasizing lead and participatory roles and responsibilities of the different agencies involved. The range of ITS implementers included the State DOT, several city governments, the county government, transit service providers, public safety service agencies, the MPO, the U.S. DOT, and the private sector.
- Stay Connected. Regular information sharing with a broad range of individuals and organizations is important. Those actively involved in the process must keep those less involved informed. Newsletters, frequently used as an effective tool in accomplishing this goal, are made more convenient as electronic formats become the common practice. It is critical to cultivate understanding and interest in ITS at all levels of the participating agencies early in ITS development. Operations staff needs to understand how coordination of systems and information flows can improve their operational responsibilities, and planning staff needs to understand their role in ITS planning and the roles and the responsibilities of operations staff.
- Think regionally. Successful deployments can be the best way to convince decision-makers of the benefits of participating in ITS development process. The "EZPass" (automated toll collection) program in the NY-NJ-CT Region gave solid evidence to decision-makers and the public throughout the region of the advantages of both ITS and interagency coordination. While each participating agency to the EZPass system was primarily motivated by their own operational needs and concerns, bringing these organizations together early on in the process, and establishing new relationships cultivated a greater interest in regional transportation issues and regional ITS solutions. However, participants often had difficulty translating the need for ITS integration to their organizations. In many agencies, both senior management and operation staff found the concept of an ITS architecture difficult to explain.
- Institutional integration was perceived to be the key to successful system integration in a multi-organization project such as Oakland County’s FAST-TRAC (Faster and Safer Travel through Traffic Routing and Advanced Controls) program. One of the most important case study findings for this project was that it was relatively easy to integrate systems, but difficult to integrate agencies. Institutional, jurisdictional and legal challenges far outweighed the technical complexities in integrating an advanced traffic management system with an advanced traveler information system.
This lesson suggests that in order to foster cooperation among stakeholders when building institutional integration, it is important to involve a wide range of participants, stay connected, and think regionally. It is necessary to involve a wide range of participants because the more participating organizations cooperate, communicate, share ideas, and solve problems together, the greater success there is for ITS integration. On the regional scale, it is critical to cultivate understanding and interest in ITS at all levels of the participating agencies early in ITS development. This is key to the most successful system integration projects that cross organizational boundaries.
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