Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment Program Independent Evaluation: Public Agency Efficiency Impact Assessment—Tampa (THEA)
A potential benefit of connected vehicle (CV) technologies is their ability to provide data and information that agencies can use to improve their efficiencies. As a part of the USDOT Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment (CVPD) Program, the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) CVPD focused on improving safety and mobility in a typical central business district (CBD) of a smaller community. An independent assessment of the impact of the THEA CVPD on public agency efficiency. This project assessed the impact of the stakeholders’ ability to improve their operational efficiency and awareness of the deployment. The original evaluation of public agency efficiencies included their mobility, safety, and customer satisfaction analyses; however due to the unforeseen circumstances (e.g., the COVID-19 pandemic), the THEA CVPD team was unable to deploy the many of planned mobility applications. The project therefore conducted interviews with three stakeholders to understand how the CVPD impacted their ability to better operate and management operations in the deployment area. In addition, the project also conducted a virtual post-deployment workshop with Tampa CVPD team stakeholders to foster additional dialog among the deployment managers, deployment teams, and operating agencies concerning the lessons learned and major takeaways from planning and implementing the deployments. The maintain/operation phase of THEA CVPD project occurred from approximately 2018 to 2021.
- Deliver updates to the on-board units (OBUs) remotely to improve operating efficiency. Updating the firmware and configuration parameters remotely allowed the THEA CVPD team to push updates to the OBU firmware and configuration parameters via the roadside unites (RSUs) while vehicles were traveling inside the study area. This led to better operating efficiency because the participants do not need to come to the installation facility multiple times. However, challenges when the updates do not reach all participants need to be considered.
- Provide a performance measurement dashboard to monitor the CV deployment to improve agency situational awareness. In the THEA CVPD, the dashboard tool allows stakeholders to monitor the operational heath of the system by investigating the status of the field devices and providing stakeholders with performance indicators on the application effectiveness.
- Keep in mind that the technology might not always be ready for deployment. The participants of the stakeholder workshop acknowledged that the experimental design at the beginning of the project assumed that the technology would be fully ready, out on the road, and operational. It turned out that the technology was not fully ready as assumed.
- Recognize that the technology and the market evolve at a rapid pace and may have associated growing pains. This project revealed that the technology and the market in which the technology development was taking place was small-sized research and development businesses, some of which almost disappeared from the market. The market around the technology was in rapid development for CV deployment, and growing pains associated with the technology were found.
- Consider unexpected delays and changes to occur during the deployment. External factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic halted the CVPD team to deploy planned mobility applications. These actions would have allowed the team to quantify public agency efficiencies. Problems with market penetration and shortened evaluation periods have an impact on the ability to quantify benefits resulting from the safety applications such as less vehicle collisions and crash potentials. Another unmet expectation was the fact that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ruling was imminent during the project, which changed the dynamics and the overall direction of the project.
- Recognize that the benefits of a CVPD might extend beyond the usual metrics. CVPD provides public agencies the opportunity to work with and potentially shape emerging technologies. The experiences gained by implementing in “shelf-ready” technology, getting it operational, and generating results is invaluable when it comes to planning, designing, deploying, and managing advance technology projects.