Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment Program Driving Towards Deployment: Lessons Learned from the Design/Build/Test Phase
In September of 2015, USDOT selected New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT), Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) and Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) as the recipients of a combined $42 million in federal funding to implement a suite of connected vehicle applications and technologies tailored to meet their region’s unique transportation needs under the Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment Program.
Following the award, each site spent 12 months preparing a comprehensive deployment concept to ensure rapid and efficient connected vehicle capability roll-out. The sites next completed a 24-month phase to design, build, and test these deployments of integrated wireless in-vehicle, mobile device, and roadside technologies. As of early 2019, the sites are entering a third phase of the deployment where the tested connected vehicle systems will become operational for a minimum 18-month period and will be monitored on a set of key performance measures.
Given the promising future of connected vehicle deployments and the growing early deployer community, experiences and insights across all stages of the Design/Build/Test Phase of the CV Pilots have been collected to serve as lessons learned and recommendations for future early deployer projects and efforts.
The following lessons were identified regarding engaging with project partners and device vendors.
Utilize RFPs to scrutinize and select the best suppliers
- It is suggested that agencies conduct multiple technical scans using request for proposal (RFP) documents that require on-the-road testing to identify promising suppliers who can meet system, cost and project timing requirements. Since this technology cannot be purchased off the shelf yet, the New York City pilot did a Request for Expression of Interest (RFEI) demonstration/evaluation, where two vendors were eventually selected as their Aftermarket Safety Device (ASD) suppliers. The winner of the New York City RSU bid resulted in award to the same vendor partnered with THEA's project from very early on in the Pilots. Although THEA did not go through an RFP process, NYC's selection of the same vendor as THEA validated THEA's up-front research.
WYDOT on the other hand did not utilize RFPs in the procurement of their devices. Some of their procurements were sole-source and others were extensions of existing contracts WYDOT already had with current partners.
Utilize multi-vendor outsourcing and source suppliers early to create a collaborative environment
- Early sourcing of suppliers is key to understand how system requirements are implemented in the design and to allow for participation in developing open specifications. To reduce risk, it is wise to select more than one supplier in the event that a supplier is unable to commit to previous agreements. With multiple selected vendors, an agency can disqualify any non-performing vendors (if needed) and continue with the performing vendor for the full complement of units.
During the implementation phase, both the New York City and Tampa Pilots had to deal with suppliers backing out. In New York City's case, they had originally selected two Onboard Unit (OBU) suppliers, however, one of the suppliers could not sign the final contract in good conscience as they did not think they could sufficiently meet NYC's design specification requirement for the vehicle's positioning accuracy. Similarly, one of Tampa's initial vendors had to withdraw because they could not provide the support outlined in the contract.
Be mindful of nuances associated with language when working with external parties
- Not everyone has the same common understanding of terminology. In discussion with their vendors, the THEA team found that vocabulary between organizations do not always match. THEA went back and forth with their device manufacturers for six months about why they would not be able to deploy THEA's planned Curve Speed Warning application. It turned out that Curve Speed Warning meant something else to the manufacturer, so THEA ended up renaming the application End of Ramp Deceleration – which the vendor was in agreement with. THEA cited that if they had known all along that it was just a misunderstanding of the application name, the issue would have been resolved in a few hours and saved them six months of hassle.
Establish contacts with traffic controller software manufacturers
- As the standards for connected vehicle systems evolve overtime, the software of the traffic controllers will likely need to be updated. Having an established relationship in place with the software manufacturers will enable them to easily access the devices to make the necessary changes when needed.