A contractor hosts the Alaska 511 Traveler Information System (includes IVR, public website and reporting tool). The initial cost to develop and implement was $440,000. Annual maintenance and operations cost $144,000. Costs to enhance the system to date have been approximately $700,000.
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (Alaska DOT&PF) launched a New Generation 511 traveler information system (NewGen 511) in March 2010. It replaced the prior Condition Acquisition & Reporting System (CARS) 511 pooled fund system. The NewGen 511 was custom built to include a new public website (511.alaska.gov), phone system and entry tool, called the Roadway Information Data Entry (RIDE).
The public website uses a Google-like map system and incorporates a smart search tool that includes pan/zoom capabilities and the ability to search by area, highway name, and/or highway route number. There is also a route summary report tool that allows user to access road reports by highway name or route number.
Using the checkboxes provided in the legend, users can turn on or off reports for road construction, driving conditions, incidents or alerts to road closures or other emergency-related information, mountain passes, road weather cameras, and National Weather Service (NWS) weather watches. Winter driving tips and driving conditions definitions are also provided.
Alaska DOT&PF designed the system to be multi-modal. The public website includes links to web pages for the Alaska Marine Highway system, Alaska Public Transit agencies, and bicycling information. The Department's Measurement Standards & Commercial Vehicle Enforcement (MS&CVE) will soon be able to post weight restriction information directly to the website via RIDE.
The NewGen 511 phone includes road construction reports, NWS weather alerts, driving conditions and incident information. The phone system also includes call transfers to the Alaska Marine Highway System scheduling and reservation line as well as transfers to a dozen public transit agencies. Additional transfer options include the National Weather Service, MS&CVE, Yukon 511, and British Columbia and Alberta driving conditions.
Alaska DOT&PF also has a 511 mobile website for hand-held devices and low bandwidth users. This website does not load a map in the background and is much faster. Alaska 511 is also available through RSS feeds, a 511 Facebook page, an iPhone App, Twitter feeds and GovDelivery.
The 511 phone system usage in Alaska has almost doubled over the years since it was first implemented in 2003. There was a total of 40,012 calls in 2003, and 73,521 calls in 2011. The months with the highest number of calls appear to be November and December and whenever inclement weather occurs.
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Total capital costs to develop and implement Alaska NextGen system: $440,000. Annual Alaska NextGen511 operating & maintenance costs: $140,000.