Computer-Aided Dispatch – Traffic Management Center Field Operational Test: State of Utah Final Report.
The Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) - Traffic Management Center (TMC) Integration Field Operations Test in the State of Utah document discusses evaluation findings for the CAD-TMC integration in the state of Utah. Utah has a very good reputation in the US for responding to and managing traffic incidents. Utah was fortunate to have such an active program in place prior to the field test. A joint process for handling incidents had been developed and refined over several years and included access to 911/CAD information for all types of incidents.
Qualitative data were collected through interviews with and observations of the following agencies:
- Utah Department of Transportation
- Utah Highway Patrol
- Utah Department of Public Safety
- Utah Transit Authority
- Valley Emergency Communications Center
- Salt Lake City Police Department
The lessons presented herein are intended to serve as a general guidance for other states to consider when planning similar CAD-TMC integration projects. The intent is to help states proactively identify issues that may impact deployment cost, schedule, and technical performance, and reflect the lessons learned by Utah during the FOT.
The integration of a Transportation Management Center (TMC) with a Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system requires numerous agencies to share large quantities of information. To avoid inefficiencies relating to the exchange of such information it is advisable to clearly define the information sharing process and each agencies role in that process.
- Define what data is to be exchanged and when. When exchanging data between multiple agencies it is important to prepare for differences in codes and determine how to handle these differences.
- In Utah, the CAD vendors tended to use Department of Justice (DOJ) standards. However, UDOT uses ITS standards in its TMC and wanted to continue with those standards to remain consistent with the rest of its system. UDOT uses the IEEE 1512 family of standards for incident management as its primary standards. Therefore, both DOJ and ITS standards had to be used.
- Decide what incidents will be shared among agencies and what incident-related information will be exchanged. As not all incidents will be of interest to all agencies, automatic filtering will assist in presenting only those incidents of interest to system operators.
- In Utah, the Valley Emergency Communications Center (VECC) was transmitting all incident data, and at times it was difficult to determine the degree of importance of each transmittal to the CommuterLink system. In busy times, it was likely that some incidents that could be of interest were missed by UDOT operators. As a result Utah is leading the participating agencies to automatically send incidents of interest and allow the receiving systems to filter those incidents to display the ones that are likely to be of most interest to the operators.
- Provide for a redundant communications path. In order to ensure the reliable delivery of messages, having a back-up communication pathway is a critical component to any integrated system.
- In Utah, a fiber optics system is used to provide the primary communication medium. In case the fiber-optics system ever malfunctions or is damaged, Utah’s contingency plan includes using the Internet as a back-up communication mechanism to link agencies via the State’s wide area network.
- Minimize duplicate data entry. Ideally, any given piece of information will only be input once by any operator in an integrated system. This is an important concept to plan for in an integrated system.
- Because not all needed information is transferred from VECC to the integrated system, UDOT operators have to enter data in their system that was already entered by VECC dispatchers in their system. As a result, UDOT has planned future system improvements that will automate sharing incidents with rules for the data that can be shared and to determine what incidents should be sent to which agencies.
- Coordinate deployment schedule with vendor schedule for system modifications and upgrades. CAD systems are generally off-the-shelf products. As vendors usually have a fixed release schedule it is important to coordinate project schedules with the vendors’ release schedules.
- The approach taken in Utah required an upgrade to every CAD system included in the integrated system. The main reason for the upgrade was to provide standards-compliant messages for system communication. The CAD systems developers provided upgrades on a fixed release schedule to ensure that the Evaluation Findings Report would continue to be supported as part of the core CAD product.
With the movement of so much information between so many different agencies it is not uncommon for small inefficiencies and/or problems to develop. In order to avoid this, agencies participating in integrated systems need to have their roles clearly defined and know exactly where to look for the information they may need. Following the guidance of these lessons will help agencies share information more effectively and ultimately help to provide better CAD and higher customer satisfaction levels.