Involve agency staff in the software development process by co-locating them with the development team.
Utah DOT’s experience using configuration management.
Made Public Date


Salt Lake City
United States

Intelligent Transportation Systems at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games: Traffic Management and Traveler Information Case Study


The Utah Department of Transportation contracted for several reports on the development, deployment, and operation of ITS in the Salt Lake City Region. CommuterLink is a network of traffic sensors, closed-circuit television, variable message signs, highway advisory radio, freeway ramp meters, internet information site, and other traffic-management and traveler information services, all of which are integrated into a Traffic Operations Center. CommuterLink’s purpose was to provide advanced transportation management and traveler information capabilities in the Salt Lake City area. The 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City added new functional requirements and a firm deadline for deployment.

This case study was performed to examine UDOT’s procurement and deployment efforts related to ITS in the region. UDOT followed a unique approach to contracting this deployment. The case study provides an overview of the successes and lessons learned related to configuration management, software selection, the system environment, staff and management roles in the development process, and meeting heavy system demand. This report presents findings from the ITS "Case Study" which primarily focused on deployment efforts before the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. A companion document, the Olympics “Event Study,” assesses how the CommuterLink system was used during the Olympic Games.

Lessons Learned

One of the major themes that arose in the discussions with UDOT staff was the need for better visibility into the design and development process of the CommuterLink software enhancements. What began as a local software development activity ended in a distributed engineering activity occurring in several sites across the country. This precluded having UDOT staff co-located with the development team and minimized their visibility into development progress and process.

A preferred approach that was discussed in interviews with UDOT staff would include the following features:

  • Co-locate development staff at a single facility with an agency presence serving as "code review" staff. Assuming that the agency will take over responsibility for system maintenance, it was discussed that the same people who will maintain and enhance the system in the future, should be involved during the initial deployment to better understand the design methodology and code structure. One of the benefits to this approach of co-locating the development team and providing agency staff presence is schedule adherence. The agency representatives would not be dependent on the contractor to provide the latest in project schedule. It also allows the agency to better understand some of the issues and challenges with their requests of the contracting firm.
  • Establish a separate Test Environment at this site. Currently, there is a development environment and a production environment. For much of the functionality, it was not possible to test the new software code until after it was installed in the production setting. This has inherent risk in that new applications are not tested extensively before being introduced into operation. A separate test environment would allow for extensive testing to eliminate bugs in the software application prior to being introduced into production. One of the elements proposed in the Phase IV activity was the development of a separate Acceptance Test environment. This system would mirror that of the production unit and would have devices or simulators available to exercise the functionality of the system. This type of an approach does require a significant investment on the part of the agencies. While this may prove cost-prohibitive to some agencies, the ability to fully test "enhancements" prior to activation is a very effective risk mitigation approach.