Transportation and Emergency Services: Identifying Critical Interfaces, Obstacles, and Opportunities
Transportation and emergency services professionals and their respective agencies interact in a myriad of situations, ranging from routine traffic incidents to large-scale events that threaten public health and safety. For even the simplest of those incidents and events, coordination among the two groups is needed to minimize the adverse, system-wide effects and to optimize the use of limited resources. From a highway transportation perspective, perhaps the most obvious and long recognized need for coordination is with law enforcement, relative to shared responsibilities for highway safety, traffic regulation, and response to traffic incidents. Although the importance of improved coordination is becoming more transparent and widely recognized, the factors that influence the effectiveness of such coordination efforts are not well understood.
The research described in this summary examines the commitment to improved coordination among highway transportation and emergency services organizations and seeks to identify and evaluate the underlying obstacles and opportunities. Most of the findings and conclusions are based on a survey administered to transportation and emergency services professionals in five states: Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The research focused on the core transportation and emergency services organizations since these agencies have the most direct responsibilities for the full range of incidents that impact the transportation system on a frequent basis.
The respondents were asked to rate the potential benefits offered by a list of 15 specific technologies to improve emergency transportation operations. The following ITS technologies had the highest potential benefits indicated by both groups:
- Interoperable radio communications
- Dynamic message signs
- GPS- and GIS-based systems
- Closed circuit television roadway surveillance
- Enhanced 911 systems