Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) technologies collect a vast amount of data for use in real-time control strategies, such as incident management, traffic signal control and traveler information services. Transportation professionals, especially those in operations and maintenance, are increasingly coming to understand that the data generated by ITS and subsequently integrated into an Archived Data Management System (ADMS) are useful well after they are no longer “real-time” data. An ADMS is an information management system that collects, processes, and documents or stores real-time ITS data for use by a broad cross section of users. ADMSs provide a valuable tool for developing operational strategies, planning for operations, long-term planning, and policy and investment decision-making.
This report examines five transportation agencies that have established and are operating successful ADMSs, and one that is on the verge of becoming fully operational. The case studies include:
- Washington State Transportation Center (Washington State TRAC)
- California Department of Transportation Freeway Performance Measuring System (Caltrans PeMS)
- Detroit Michigan ITS Center (Detroit MITS)
- Minnesota Department of Transportation Traffic Management Center (Minnesota TMC)
- King County Washington Metro (King County Metro)
- Maricopa County Arizona Regional Archive Data Server (Maricopa County RADS)
The report presents findings on the design choices, operational policies, funding sources, and costs and benefits experienced by each of the six ADMS case studies. In doing so, the objective is to enable agencies to overcome the challenges of establishing an ADMS and to experience the many benefits for both operations and planning.
ADMS offer numerous potential benefits, including the ability to better evaluate system performance, plan for operations, and support future investment decisions. Washington State TRAC, for example, uses its ADMS to assess performance of the HOV lane system, to plan work zone control, and to plan for the use of reversible lanes for special events. Archived data provides Caltrans with a powerful tool for system performance monitoring and congestion management, and the Minnesota TMC also uses its ADMS to support traffic monitoring and effectiveness of traffic control devices such as ramp meters.
During the planning and design phases of archived data management systems (ADMS), there are a number of issues that transportation agencies need to consider to ensure the success of their project. Based on the experience of the six sites profiled in this study, the following set of lessons learned highlight key issues regarding the requirements definition and system design phases of ADMS projects.
- Define the audience that will be the main system users so as to understand their data and application needs. The Minnesota TMC’s database format is structured to facilitate query response to support a broad range of users and applications. Data formats used by the system therefore include commercially available relational database applications. Moreover, system developers focused on ensuring that all data are centralized and distributed via the Internet (though individual applications could be distributed or localized).
- Teach engineers and planners that are helping to define ADMS applications to think "outside the box" to derive maximum benefit from the system. However, be prepared to provide boundaries as users may ask for capabilities they will rarely, if ever, use.
- Consider that some database formats may be easy to manage and inexpensive initially, but may require a high level of programming support which is expensive.
- Address firewall and security issues as early as possible.
- Use commercially available or open source software over proprietary or custom designed systems. Early ADMSs such as Washington State TRAC and Minnesota TMC have a history of sharing software code with other public sector ADMS developers. Sharing of code may result in development of a set of standard practices to assure that minimum quality standards are addressed. The Maricopa County RADS will rely largely on open source software to address data collection. Open source software is well suited for the wide variety of data types that the Maricopa County RADS is expected to store and process. The system will collect data via the Internet, CD-ROMs, or dedicated landlines, depending upon the agency providing the data.
- Develop a configuration plan for system software and hardware.
- Ensure proper documentation of software (especially if university students are used for software development)
- Include mapping tools in requirements developed for applications.
- Bring maintenance staff into the process early and develop coordination procedures to ensure the loop functionality will be preserved
Through careful attention to requirements definition and system design, transportation agencies can derive maximum benefit from an ADMS, as they are able to more effectively gauge system performance and to more efficiently plan future operational strategies. Ultimately, the objective of this applied research is to improve the safety, mobility, and efficiency of the transportation network.
Federal Highway Administration
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