The Silicon Valley Smart Corridor (SVSC), centered in San Jose, California, was one of approximately 65 deployments occurring nationally under the direction and partial funding of the Fiscal Year 1999 National Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Integration Program. These deployments are intended to promote major national goals for ITS, such as: increase transportation efficiency, promote safety, increase traffic flow, reduce emissions of air pollutants, improve traveler information, enhance alternative transportation modes, build on existing ITS projects, and promote tourism.
The Silicon Valley Smart Corridor project was initiated to use advanced technologies and real-time system management techniques to keep all transportation facilities within the region's critical State Highway Route 17 and Interstate 880 (SR 17/I-880) corridor operating at maximum efficiency, even when following a major disruptive incident. Based upon a partnership of several agencies, the system combines advanced freeway, arterial, and incident management techniques and resources to reduce delays.
Stakeholder policies, priorities, and personnel training are critical to the success of the project to reduce delays and ensure consistency in each agency's deployment schedule. Reaching consensus on the operational policies as early as possible will reduce the likelihood that deployment delays will occur due to differences in project priorities. A consensus is desired on such important policies as: agencies' roles and responsibilities; how certain equipment (deployed at multiple agencies' facilities) is used; and personnel training required at each agency to build and maintain the project components.
The SVSC project experience provides a snapshot of these issues and the associated impact on the deployment. During the initial phase of the deployment, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was approved by the partners. The MOU established project committees and provided a basic understanding of the operational concept. However, because the original MOU was not intended to detail the specific operational strategies of the deployment, efforts were initiated soon after the project inception to draft agreements specifying these policies. Many difficulties were encountered in reaching agreement on these policies among the various agencies and their legal council. A sample of the concerns that caused difficulty in achieving consensus included:
- Policies that enabled one jurisdiction to assume control over equipment located in a neighboring jurisdiction;
- The use of maintenance staff from one jurisdiction to repair equipment in another jurisdiction;
- The rights of individual jurisdictions to use the deployed equipment for other purposes than defined by the group;
- The assignment of operational and maintenance responsibilities and funding;
- Liability concerns; and,
- Policies specifying the hierarchy of control over particular components.
These issues, among others, resulted in significant delays in approving an overall MOU that defined system operations. The MOU was finally agreed upon by all direct partners in late 2002.
The SVSC evaluation provided a number of suggestions that should be helpful to stakeholders planning to implement a multi-jurisdictional ITS project.
- Have stakeholder policies in place to assess responsibility and designate appropriate mitigation in the event of infrastructure damage. When the fiber-optic cables were cut or damaged, several agencies reported having inadequate policies in place to assess responsibility and designate appropriate mitigation of the damage. This resulted in significant delays in properly repairing the damage. To address these policy deficiencies the agency partners tested and shared various policies.
- Encourage stakeholder agencies to place an equal priority on ITS projects to ensure consistency in each agency's deployment schedule, reduce scope creep in system capabilities, and help reduce bottlenecks in the real-time exchange of data between agencies. During the SVSC deployment, some agencies placed a lower-priority on the project. Consequently, those agencies followed their own independent deployment schedule for Smart Corridor-related components in their own jurisdictions. These deployment schedule inconsistencies resulted in project partners having to alter the scope of the project to account for the unavailability of supporting components to be provided by the other agencies. The scope changes did not significantly impact the primary capabilities of the Smart Corridor system. However, changes that create bottlenecks in the real-time exchange of data between agencies can impact the success of a deployment.
- Ensure personnel in the stakeholder agencies have adequate training to address many of the complex issues to reduce deployment delays and reliance on outside contractors. Various agencies with the SVSC deployment discovered that their own personnel lacked the technical training to address many of the more complex issues arising from the fiber implementation. Several technical problems required the consultation of outside contractors and the additional contracting effort resulted in deployment delays. To address this issue, the partner agencies sought additional training for some of their maintenance personnel and have developed alternative contracting mechanisms to more quickly and effectively repair or replace damaged infrastructure.
The SVSC project experienced significant delays in their deployment schedule. Some of the delays occurred due to the difficulties arising in reaching consensus in project operational policies and agreement on the importance (or priority) of the project. The lack of adequate personnel training to address technical issues was another issue that also resulted in deployment delays.
This lesson suggests that deployment delays and ultimately the success of the project are affected by Stakeholder policies, the priorities stakeholders place on the deployment of the project, and the level of personnel technical training. Although not the only factors critical to project success, stakeholders could reduce deployment delays by ensuring these factors are addressed early in the deployment schedule.
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