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

3.3 Transportation-Relevant Information Managed/Used by FCs

FCs typically collect and analyze information from many available sources to produce and disseminate actionable intelligence to stakeholders for strategic and tactical decision-making. This information generally falls into the “operational” category, in regard to transportation relevance.

3.3.1 Information Categories

Just as the category of information available from an FC is driven by the FC’s primary mission of collection, analysis, and dissemination, the way in which FC information could be used by TMCs and EOCs is also driven by their respective missions.

Table 3-6: FC Operational Information:  Description and Potential Uses by TMCs and FCs
FC Information
For Official Use Only

Potential Uses



Intelligence Alerts

  • Immediate alerts within 10-15 minutes of incident
  • Limited details
  • Imminent or existing threat occurring in FC’s jurisdiction
  • Includes events such as severe weather, explosions, major traffic incidents
  • Broadcast messages to predefined list of recipients (phone, pager, email distribution lists configurable by area of interest/focus)
  • Intelligence alerts that could have an effect on local transportation network
  • Notify responders to stand by for a potential incident response
  • Determine whether/when to activate/change status of EOC (e.g., from monitoring status to partial or full activation)

Intelligence Bulletins

  • Additional details beyond alert information
  • Information updates to ongoing situations
  • Less urgent, upcoming situations, special event planning and coordination
  • Can include special events such as planned protests
  • Distributed as needed
  • Intelligence bulletins that could have an effect on local transportation network
  • Pre-planning for special events
  • Use information updates to modify EOC status and determine situation response
  • Use information on upcoming situations, special events to plan for such special events (e.g., augment law enforcement personnel; crowd control; pre-position medical response personnel)

Daily Report

  • Daily intelligence gathered from open source and classified sources
  • Global and regional impact
  • Standard format
  • International, local
  • Published at end of day
  • Typically distributed via email, may be posted to portal
  • Interested in incidents that could have an effect on local or regional transportation network
  • Interested in incidents that may affect the community or infrastructure within the EOC’s jurisdiction

Intelligence Reports

  • Usually the day after a situation
  • Large-picture, macro analysis of major incident
  • After-action reports
  • Use for lessons learned (changes to staffing and physical resources; process improvement) and input for future exercises
  • Use for lessons learned (changes to staffing and physical resources; process improvement) and input for future exercises

Threat Assessments

  • Annual
  • Quarterly
  • Incident-specific
  • State of Affairs or Annual Threat Assessment, inclement weather season preparation, major construction impact
  • Distributed usually via email
  • Near-term threat assessments that could affect mobility on the transportation network including:
    • Increased congestion
    • Transit delays
    • HazMat
    • Evacuation routes
  • Long-term threat assessments can be used for infrastructure and ITS planning
  • Use information for near-term planning (e.g., staffing levels, availability of physical resources)
  • Use information for long-term planning (e.g., budgeting for additional staffing/physical resources) Intelligence Alerts

Description: Intelligence alerts can address both imminent and existing threats that occur in an FC’s jurisdiction. These alerts can contain many types of information, from incoming weather, to an explosion occurrence, or a major traffic incident. This information can come to the FC from any source (e.g., police officer on the street, transportation agency work crews, news agencies). First reporting is usually limited and may not be completely reliable. However, the alert gives an initial warning to supporting agencies for awareness and immediate response or preparation, depending on the incident.

The intelligence alerts are usually sent out within 10 to 15 minutes of an incident being discovered and are usually broadcast to a predefined list of recipients either via phone, pager, or through an e-mail distribution list that is configurable by the area of interest or focus. The alerts are sent out to first responders and agency partners through a tiered system for dissemination of information. Agencies outside the first responder tier can also be included on the alert distribution list if they are regularly involved with emergency response (e.g., transportation officials and emergency management officials). The individuals within these agencies who receive these alerts are screened to verify their suitability to have access to sensitive information[44] and their need to know such information. In most cases, these individuals are senior-level officials or cooperating law enforcement and first responder agencies who have responsibility for initiating response activities.

As is normally the case, the originator of the information will send it to his/her contact lists. In turn, an agency on that contact list will forward the message to its contact list. In many cases, there will be redundant messaging. However, as FCs receive information on an incident from many different agencies, they fuse these differing reports and data through analyses and then disseminate the information based on a more complete understanding of the incident.

Potential TMC Uses: TMCs are interested in any information that would affect mobility on the transportation infrastructure. TMCs often collect their own information about the incidents and special events that could affect the transportation network. However, intelligence alerts from an FC would benefit a TMC because there might be some information that the TMC has not yet received; it also serves as a way to verify information from an additional source.

Potential Uses by EOCs:  An EOC could use information from intelligence alerts in two ways:

  • To notify responders to stand by for a potential emergency
  • To determine whether/when to activate or change the status of the EOC (e.g., from monitoring status to partial or full activation).

In some cases, the FC’s jurisdiction may not be congruent with the EOC’s jurisdiction. For example, the FC’s geographical jurisdiction may include multiple EOCs, but the incident that provoked the intelligence alert may not require a response from all of the EOCs. In such cases, this information is most immediately useful to the affected EOC. However, the information may also be useful for the other EOCs if the incident has the potential to affect their jurisdictions or if the affected EOC may need personnel or physical resources as mutual aid from those EOCs not currently affected. A wildfire is one example where this could be the case. The resources needed to contain the fire may exceed those available to the affected EOC, and it is certainly in the best interests of the surrounding EOCs to help the affected EOC contain the fire so that it does not spread to their jurisdictions. The intelligence alert would also allow those unaffected EOCs to begin to position themselves to respond if the fire spread into their jurisdictions and take actions such as sending text messages to volunteer firefighters to be prepared to respond if needed. Intelligence Bulletins

Description: Intelligence bulletins follow alerts and are issued as the FC gathers more information, validates information already provided, and continues to track the progress of the ongoing incident. In addition to providing updates regarding ongoing incidents and special events, these bulletins can contain updates and information on upcoming situations, special event planning and coordination, and planned protests. These bulletins are distributed as needed to those agencies and individuals that have been identified as having a need to know or have a focus, and operate, in that particular area of interest. (This list of recipients will usually be the same as the recipients of the initial alert, with possible additions as the situation dictates.)

The additional details provided by an FC beyond the alert information can provide first responders and support agencies with a clearer operating picture. The bulletins include analysis of a situation as it has unfolded and has been tracked by the FC’s professional analysts. The FC will normally continue to issue intelligence bulletins until the incident has reached closure and will send out a final bulletin notifying recipients of a closed incident.

Potential TMC Uses: TMCs would value continued updates on activities affecting the transportation infrastructure. Information on planned special events could support pre-planning activities. Additional details would increase the reliability of the decision making regarding transportation infrastructure.

Potential Uses by EOCs:  EOCs could use information updates from intelligence bulletins in two ways:

  • EOCs could use information on ongoing situations to modify the EOC status and determine how to respond to the situation
  • EOCs could use information on planned special events to determine what measures are needed to prepare for the special event (e.g., augment law enforcement personnel, implement crowd control measures, and pre-position medical response personnel).

Using the example of a wildfire, the additional details and updates about an ongoing incident would allow the affected EOC to refine its response and would allow the potentially affected EOCs to determine whether the fire was advancing in a way that warranted modifying their status from “monitoring” to “activating.” 

With respect to information in intelligence bulletins regarding planned special events, the EOCs could take actions such as informing personnel that they may not schedule vacation during the timeframe within which the special event will occur or renting equipment (e.g., such as crowd control fences) that may not ordinarily be readily available. Daily Report

Description: FC daily reports consist of daily intelligence based on both open source (newspapers, television news, partner agencies, etc.) and classified source information. These reports are published at the end of every day and are distributed to all of the FCs across the country and other recipients. This information is usually transmitted via e-mail or may be posted to a secure portal. Reports reflect information that has both regional and global impacts because anything could be of relevance and could impact the ongoing analysis process. Both local and international trends are shared with other centers to help with ongoing investigations, highlighting a trend, or just simply providing awareness of a situation. The reports also include any threat to a particular infrastructure that has a regional or nationwide impact. Each FC follows its own standard format for these reports, but formats may vary among centers.

Potential TMC Uses: TMCs would value continued updates on activities affecting the transportation infrastructure. Additional details would increase the reliability of decision making.

Potential Uses by EOCs:  Daily reports contain information that has both global and regional impact. An EOC would use a subset of this information, specifically any information about incidents or special events that may affect the community or infrastructure within (or perhaps adjacent to) its jurisdiction. Such information may inform the EOC’s monitoring activities for the following day. Intelligence Reports

Description: Once an incident is closed, the FC analysts will begin reconstructing the incident from its inception to closure to compile an intelligence report. Intelligence reports are usually issued the day (or week) after an incident. Not to be confused with after-action reports, the intelligence reports provide analysts and partner agencies with a large-picture overview, or macro analysis, of a major incident or special event that has just occurred. Intelligence reports can be shared across the country with other FCs to share best practices or lessons learned. These reports can also be used to strengthen overall operations and procedures and will include detailed information about the incident as well as provide an analysis of how the incident pertains to the area of responsibility, a particular critical infrastructure, law enforcement, or national security. Intelligence reports also provide valuable input to quarterly and annual threat assessments.

Potential TMC Uses: As with after-action reports, intelligence reports involving traffic incidents can be catalogued along with, and compared to, TMC incident logs to assess the effectiveness of the response and implement necessary SOP revisions.

Potential Uses by EOCs:  EOCs could use the information in intelligence reports much as they use information from their own after-action reports (e.g., to identify changes required in personnel and physical resources or processes and as input for future exercises). For example, if the intelligence report identified deficiencies in staffing, physical resources, or response processes, the EOC could remediate those deficiencies and then use the incident addressed in the intelligence report as the scenario for the exercise. This would test whether the deficiencies had been adequately remediated. If not, the EOC could identify additional measures required. Further, EOCs can even benefit from after-action reports about incidents in which they may not have been involved—they can factor the lessons learned elsewhere into their own exercises and planning. Threat Assessments

Description: Each FC develops periodic threat assessments for the locality under its jurisdiction. These assessments are used to generate the State of Affairs or an Annual Threat Assessment—reports that can be presented to the Governor of the State and any other officials who have a need to know this information. These reports contain information on topics such as inclement weather preparations, major construction impacts, the overall jurisdictional threat assessment, critical infrastructure assessments, and evacuation planning and preparation. Typically, these assessments are distributed via e-mail, but presentations are also made as requested. A threat assessment can offer insight about the jurisdiction’s vulnerabilities and operational capabilities. Legislators and agencies can use this information to focus resources to mitigate vulnerabilities identified in the report and identify ways to enhance the jurisdiction’s operational capabilities to respond to an incident or special event.

Potential TMC Uses: TMCs would find any threat assessments useful that would affect transportation infrastructure. Threat assessments affecting mobility could improve the TMC’s situational awareness and allow it to focus current efforts on the most critical threats. In the case of a transportation-related threat, TMCs could use threat assessments to prepare or position resources to deal with threats that would increase congestion or delay transit operations. For example, if a threat is related to the release of hazardous materials on or near roadways, TMCs could begin to implement precautions to protect travelers and develop alternate routes. If a major threat is imminent that would involve the evacuation of citizens from an area, the TMC could use the advance warning to begin setting up evacuation routes, to include preparing for traffic control activities such as reverse lane flow operations. Long-term threat assessments can also benefit the TMCs by identifying vulnerabilities of the infrastructure and ITS resources, which TMCs could use for planning purposes.

Potential Uses by EOCs:  EOCs could use threat assessments in two ways:

  • Incident-specific threat assessment information would be useful for near-term planning.
  • Longer-term threat assessment information would be useful in long-term planning, such as developing budgets and identifying capital projects that may be required to develop capabilities to adequately respond to emerging threats. For example, a State of Affairs Report might reflect that our adversaries are becoming interested in attacking the water delivery infrastructure. The EOC may then need to explore how to respond, addressing issues such as the location of alternate sources of water, the quantity of water available, and orderly distribution methods.

From the EOC perspective, intelligence alerts, bulletins, and reports are generally of greater interest than the daily reports and threat assessments.

Along the axis of immediate versus long term, the EOCs focus most of their efforts on immediate situations. They certainly also have longer-term interests. For example, they conduct exercises to better prepare themselves to respond to future incidents and, just as all organizations, they need to be forward-looking in terms of their budgets and evolving in concert with their environment. However, their primary day-to-day mission is to respond to immediate incidents.

Along the axis of local versus national, EOCs focus most of their efforts on those factors that affect the geographical jurisdictions (or, in some cases, the functional disciplines) for which they are responsible. They are concerned with situations beyond their immediate jurisdictions or functional disciplines primarily to the extent that more global incidents or special events may materialize. This could directly affect their areas of responsibility, or offer lessons learned in case similar emergencies or special events affect their areas of responsibility in the future.

In contrast, FC products such as daily reports and threat assessments tend to have a long-term, big picture, global focus, reflecting:

  • How a discrete incident or special event may impact the more global situation
  • How a global situation may impact the local environment
  • How a situation affecting one infrastructure component/functional discipline may affect another.

3.3.2 Summary of Transportation-Relevant Information Managed/Used by FCs

The category of information available from an FC is driven by the FC’s primary mission, and by information security and privacy constraints. But as FCs collect, analyze, and then disseminate information, it is also important to understand that information sharing is one of the key components to the viability of an FC.

[44] They may have security clearances or the agencies may have conducted some level of background investigation on them to verify their trustworthiness.

June 2010
Publication #FHWA-HOP-09-003