Office of Operations
21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

2.3 Processes and Operations

This section provides insights into the day-to-day functions, processes, and operations as well as emergency modes across TMCs, EOCs, and FCs.

2.3.1 TMCs

Generally, full-scale TMC operations focus on four primary function classifications:

  • Monitor: Monitoring transportation infrastructure for traffic incidents/conditions

  • Inform: Disseminating information to the public and relevant agencies

  • Control: Controlling and managing traffic including optimization of available infrastructure and assets, such as safety/service patrols, to decrease congestion and mitigate incidents

  • Indirect: Managing overhead activities for the TMC.

Across TMCs, these functions vary in terms of the extent to which and how they provide these services. Table 2-7 presents aspects of the incidents monitored, systems leveraged, and processes and operations of the TMC, revolving around the four primary functions.

Table 2-7: TMC Traffic Management
Incidents Monitored Technologies and Tools Utilized Actions
Relevant road-weather data Automated roadway detection including road weather information systems (RWIS)
  • Broadcast of warnings and instructions if necessary
  • Permanent fixed-route evacuation signing (in some areas)
Incidents Cell phone calls to local law enforcement and 911 dispatchers, closed-circuit television (CCTV), CAD, and similar systems
  • Incident responder deployment including fire, police, paramedics, and/or safety/service patrols
Congestion CCTV, loop detectors, vehicle probes
  • Dynamic message signs (DMS), also known as variable message signs (VMS) or changeable message signs (CMS), display appropriate messages providing travel time or congestion-level messages
Work zones CCTV, radio and cellular communication with road crews
Monitoring sensors in barrels or cones
Intrusion alert devices
  • DMS display appropriate messages providing travel time
  • Detour routes implemented and instructions provided as necessary
  • Real-time monitoring of speeds around work zones and intrusion into a work zone
Special events CCTV, signal timing adjustments, radio and cellular communications with State DOT field staff
  • Monitoring of special events and work with law enforcement to direct traffic as necessary
Signal timing CCTV, Advanced Traffic Management Systems (ATMS), traffic signal algorithms
  • Monitoring of traffic including intersection movement, adjustment of signal times for optimal traffic flow

2.3.2 EOCs

At the most fundamental level, EOCs perform five primary functions and one administrative function—monitoring the jurisdiction, receiving notification of an incident affecting the jurisdiction, assessing the incident to determine the appropriate response, responding to the incident, closing out the incident, and administering the organization. The jurisdiction’s emergency management plan defines who operates the EOC and how it is operated. At the Federal level, the NRF serves this purpose. EOCs are often organized around operations, planning, logistics, finance, and administrative departments—key Incident Command System (ICS) organizational elements—to fulfill the basic EOC functions. EOCs establish processes required to fulfill the five primary EOC functions and document the processes in standard operating procedures (SOPs). The SOPs define how the operations, planning, logistics, finance, and administration components interact and how the EOC as a whole works with external entities (e.g., Federal, State, and local government entities and the private sector). Table 2-8 provides a sample of the processes defined by the EOC SOPs and the EOC functions with which these processes are associated.

Table 2-8: Illustrative EOC Functions and Processes
Functions Processes
Monitoring Maintain steady-state watch
Monitor radio frequencies and CAD systems for police and fire departments
Survey all 911 calls and emergency response units
Track weather conditions
Monitor news media (e.g., CNN, MSNBC)
Monitor status of emergency response teams and resources
Incident Assessment Prioritize objectives
Make recommendations to government executives on evacuations, closures, disaster declaration, cessation of services
Incident Response Obtain resources
Deploy resources
Coordinate with other agencies and organizations
Assign tasks to Emergency Support Functions (ESFs)
Brief staff
Update government officials
Update news media (e.g., local/national news organizations)
Incident Closure Develop after-action reports for incident and/or exercise
EOC Administration Track time and costs of incident
Analyze data
Develop, maintain, and update action plans
Maintain duty log
Manage and train response personnel
Manage resource inventory (e.g., medical supplies)
Maintain equipment (e.g., vehicles, backup generators)
Provide administrative and legal support
Update Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) and Memorandums of Agreement (MOAs) with neighboring jurisdictions and internal organizations

Note that, particularly in more widespread, complex incidents, these functions may be iterative and overlapping, rather than sequential and discrete. This is particularly the case with the monitoring, assessment, and response functions. Further, EOCs work closely with local community resources frequently to manage incidents. The community owns monitoring and response resources and assets, which may include:

  • E-911 call centers
  • Local law enforcement agencies (to include law enforcement personnel, facilities, vehicles, etc.)
  • Fire stations (to include firefighters, associated EMS personnel, facilities, and specialized vehicles such as ambulances).

However, EOCs with more extensive jurisdictions may own some facilities and have a few key staff, but they usually coordinate the monitoring and response resources rather than own them. EOCs are dynamic organizations depending on their operating status. During the watch or monitoring stage, the operating staff is minimal. During a full-scale operation, EOCs house representatives from multiple agencies and organizations ranging from executive government officials to volunteer organization coordinators.

In contrast with the local community-level response entities, whose fire departments, law enforcement agencies, and medical organizations are in continuous operation, EOCs with more extensive jurisdictions typically have a small core staff on duty until an incident occurs that requires activating the EOC’s full capabilities. In some cases, “core staff” may be limited to having a single watch officer on duty on a 24/7 basis.

2.3.3 FCs

Figure 2-1: FC Intelligence Process [23]

Illustration of a cyclical process

FC guidelines state that the principal role of the FC is to compile, analyze, and disseminate criminal and terrorist information and intelligence and other information to support efforts to anticipate, identify, prevent, and/or monitor criminal and terrorist activity.[20] FCs leverage all information and intelligence to rapidly identify patterns and trends that may reflect emerging threats. The primary functions and goals for FCs, as defined by the guidelines, are to:

  • Rapidly identify emerging threats
  • Support multidisciplinary, proactive, and community-focused problem-solving activities
  • Support predictive analysis capabilities
  • Improve the delivery of emergency and non-emergency services.

Of these activities, the primary function of an FC is to gather and analyze data, resulting in a finished, timely, credible, and actionable product that is useable in the decision-making process.

When a threat is identified, FCs gather and exchange information from all sources for analysis with the appropriate official from the local, State, tribal, or Federal government agency represented at that FC, based upon the threat. While law enforcement or homeland security sources and databases or portals provide nearly all intelligence and information that FCs collect, agencies external to law enforcement, such as transportation agencies, fire departments, private sector, and public health entities, may also provide critical information to formulate a comprehensive analysis.[21] Depending on the nature of the threat, the FCs may share this threat information with DHS and, when terrorism related, coordinate with Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) that exist in 100 cities nationwide including the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI’s) 56 field offices.

The local, State, tribal, or Federal government representative that will be taking action against the threat stores the products produced by an FC, based on the specific threat. Storing of that product is done in accordance with any FC and/or department policy, to include local, State, and Federal classified information requirements and privacy laws[22]. Figure 2-1 illustrates the FC intelligence process.

[20] Fusion Center Guidelines: Developing and Sharing Information and Intelligence in a New Era, January 2008.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid.

[23] U.S. Department of Justice, The National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan, October 2003.

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June 2010
Publication #FHWA-HOP-09-003