Identify regional needs from the bottom up and ensure that specific rural needs are not neglected in state/regional ITS strategic plans.
National experience with performing regional inventories and defining needs for ITS strategic plans.
Made Public Date


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New Mexico
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Caltrans District 5 (San Luis Obispo)
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New York
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Siskiyou County
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Jackson County
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Best Practices of Rural and Statewide ITS Strategic Planning


This document distills best practices in preparation of rural and statewide ITS deployment plans from 12 in-depth case studies and 18 sites surveyed by written questionnaire. The ultimate goal is to identify factors that should be considered by agencies undertaking such planning projects. The report also documents the benefits of this planning so that these benefits can encourage future ITS strategic planning efforts nationwide.

This document addresses institutional rather than technical issues with emphasis on the complex decision-making process required for ITS strategic planning. This process includes agency interactions, processes and procedures, organizational structures, and the level of institutional involvement.

  • The document uses the case studies/surveys to summarize the following aspects of deployment, and lays out guidance highlights (lessons learned) addressing many of these items:
  • The ITS strategic planning process, including regional ITS architectures
  • Goals and objectives of creating an ITS strategic plan
  • Effective stakeholder participation
  • Best practices for outreach, education, and marketing
  • Funding opportunities and sources, including public/private partnerships
  • Operations, maintenance, and management considerations
  • Costs of planning
  • Potential benefits

The case studies themselves appear in appendices.

This document, along with the Rural Toolbox (FHWA-OP-01-030), forms the rural ITS best practices series.

Lessons Learned

Identify regional needs "from the bottom up" and ensure that specific rural needs are not neglected in state/regional ITS strategic plans:


  • Needs Assessment and Regional Inventory
    Regional needs and problem identification must come from the bottom up and be defined by those who are closest to them: the stakeholders of the region, their elected officials, Agency staffs responsible for the transportation system, and the customer (e.g., commuters, long-distance travelers, community residents, tourists/visitors, bus riders, etc.). As a component of the needs assessment, the region needs to conduct a comprehensive system inventory and transportation assessment. This assessment will provide understanding of what the region currently has, and will allow the further identification of "gaps."


  • To develop this system inventory, planners need to review existing transportation planning documents, conduct stakeholder workshops/interviews, and distribute survey forms to their respective target audiences. With this information in-hand, planners can create tables, graphical map displays, and visuals of needs and inventory results to facilitate analysis and outreach activities.
  • After identifying the needs the planners can organize individual needs into broader categories (e.g., User Services, Market Packages, etc.) to clarify the context in which it is more fully understood. With direct Stakeholder input, the next step is to prioritize the needs. Finally, the stakeholders should "map" the needs to potential ITS solutions to begin to develop an ITS vision for the Region.
  • Rural Environment
    Rural areas contain a set of unique transportation-related needs that cannot easily be addressed by traditional design/build methods. Therefore, the needs found in rural areas should be examined and addressed to ensure a consistent level of service for all roadways across the State/Region. For example, using a location-based, needs driven approach, one State DOT was able to focus more attention on Rural ITS applications and on applications other than congestion relief; this helped to sell ITS to a broader range of stakeholders.

These actions will increase the efficiency of the ITS system developed using the strategic plan.

Goal Areas