Anticipate last minute technical glitches when integrating computer aided dispatch (CAD) and transportation management center (TMC) systems and plan accordingly from the start of the project.
Virginia DOT’s experience integrating data from public works and public safety agencies.
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Challenges Faced and Tactics Used to Integrate Real-Time State Police CAD Data with the VDOT Richmond District Smart Traffic Center: Lessons Learned Document


This lesson is learned from the experiences encountered while integrating the Transportation Management System (OpenTMS) deployed at the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Richmond District Smart Traffic Center (STC) with real-time data from the Virginia State Police (VSP) computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system. This project had two thrusts: first, integrating data arriving from the VSP into the OpenTMS Traffic Control System, and second, updating and customizing the OpenTMS' Incident Management subsystem to utilize this integrated data more effectively.

The project began with a concept study, which found a significant benefit to integrating the VSP Division 1 CAD system and the Richmond STC. The study recommended sharing data from the VSP CAD system. On the VSP side, some software modifications and a modest amount of hardware would deliver near real-time data to the Richmond STC. The data would contain up–to-the-minute status of events dispatched to the police. On the STC side, more significant software modifications were required. The changes would allow VSP data to be tightly integrated into OpenTMS at a detailed level, allowing Richmond STC staff to use VSP-initiated traffic incidents as an integrated part of STC operations.

Lessons learned related to multi-partner cooperation, early deployment and prototyping, last-minute technical glitches, and post-deployment training.

Lessons Learned

Anticipate last minute technical glitches. During the initial days of the systems deployment, several minor technical glitches surfaced that required cooperation between all parties to resolve. The resolution of these issues greatly increased the usability of the system.

Incidents not cleared: Early experience with the AlertViewer showed a small subset of incidents were entered but never cleared. At first this was thought to be an anomaly. Code was added to the VDOT side to clear any incident with no activity for the past 24 hours. Further investigation showed that this issue was an ongoing issue. With the support of NGC, the cause of this problem was identified. What was happening was that incidents were starting out with a 10-Code that was passed to VDOT and then the 10-Code was changed to one that was filtered from being sent. This left the original incident remaining to appear as open even though it had been cleared under a different 10-Code. To resolve this, incidents were sent from VSP to VDOT if either the original 10-Code or the current 10-Code matched the permissible list of codes.

Duplicate Incident Numbers: Reviewing the program logs it was noticed that new incidents were being received with incident IDs that matched previous incidents. These new incidents appeared to have been assigned a duplicate incident ID. In talking with VSP, it was learned that officers, on occasion, will reopen a previously cleared incident to record further information regarding the incident. What appeared as a new incident was really the reopening of an old incident. Code was added to the program that translated the incident data to its CAP message to keep information on cleared incidents for up to 1 hour in case an incident was reopened by an officer.

Lack of Information: Within the first few months of use, a handful of incidents were identified where the incident was properly sent to VDOT but insufficient textual information was included for VDOT to ascertain the severity of the incident. It was determined that the problem was that not all dispatchers were using the ROADI segment to record information of importance to VDOT. Instead, this data was recorded in the MISC segment that was being filtered by VSP. VSP undertook an effort to provide better training of the dispatcher regarding the use of the ROADI segment. To date, however, this issue is still a problem. While some dispatchers make good use of the ROADI segment, its use is not consistent among all the VSP dispatchers.

Challenges Faced and Tactics Used to Integrate Real-Time State Police CAD Data with the VDOT Richmond District Smart Traffic Center: Lessons Learned Document

Challenges Faced and Tactics Used to Integrate Real-Time State Police CAD Data with the VDOT Richmond District Smart Traffic Center: Lessons Learned Document
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Robison, David, Matt Sargent, and Steve Beckwith
Virginia DOT

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