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

5.3 TMCs, EOCs, and FCs Working Together

The intent of this section is to provide detailed examples of where TMCs, EOCs, and FCs are currently working together, the strategies employed to facilitate the information exchange, and the benefits gained through collaboration.

The first examples provided include a discussion on information sharing and collaboration in Kentucky and New Jersey. The KIFC and the State TOC provide insights into coordination through the use of technology. Officials at the joint KIFC and State TOC stated that they coordinate efforts to track shipments when nuclear/radiological materials are moved from Oak Ridge National Laboratories to the depleted uranium hexafluoride conversion facility (DUF6) in Paducah, Kentucky. KIFC staff will use the TOC cameras to track the movement of the shipment while the TOC staff supply route information and updates.

The New Jersey Regional Operations and Intelligence Center (ROIC) and the MIOC not only function as traditional FCs, but also act as the statewide operations center during an incident. Richard Cañas, director of New Jersey's Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, suggests using FCs in emergency response: “[it] may be a concept that could be a model for other states.”[63] In the event of a school shooting, for instance, the ROIC facilitates a seamless flow of information between the various agencies that would be responding.[64] The center’s 100-seat facility can project live aerial footage, building blueprints, and hospital locations onto its 32-foot screen, which all partner agencies can work from to coordinate their efforts.

Table 5-2 provides specific examples on observed best practices for integration that illustrate how TMCs, EOCs, FCs, and other transportation agencies have successfully worked together during incidents.

Table 5-2: Observed Best Practices for Emergency Integration[65]
Best Practice Locations Observed Implementation
Placement of TMC workstations in related EOC – Technical Integration Houston
Location of regional EOC in the same building as the TMC allows data networks to be connected, giving EOC workstations full access to TMC data resources
Austin Combined Transportation, Emergency and Communications Center (CTECC) Location of regional EOC in the same building as the TMC allows data networks to be connected, giving EOC workstations full access to TMC data resources
Location of the TMC on the same campus as the statewide EOC allows placement of a TMC workstation connected to the NaviGAtor system in Atlanta with full functionality
Coordinated Highways Action Response Team (CHART)
Connection of the statewide emergency management center to the CHART system using ATM protocols on commercial communication infrastructure gives the CHART workstation at the EOC full functionality and acceptable video quality
Establishment of interagency agreements at management level – institutional integration Houston
Formal agreements among local and State government agencies carrying signatures from high-ranking officials covering establishment, funding, management, and operations of the combined center
Austin CTECC Formal agreements among local and State government agencies carrying signatures from high-ranking officials covering establishment, funding, management, and operations of the combined center
Orlando Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) D5 A general MOU establishes an organizational structure and documents commitment for information sharing and implementation coordination
Implementation of a data network on publicly owned infrastructure and available only to regional cooperating agencies – technical integration Orlando FDOT
Installed fiber owned by individual consortium members is interconnected to establish a region-wide Ethernet network private to the consortium used for sharing video, data, and remote server access
Salt Lake City Installed fiber is interconnected with local partner agencies to establish a region-wide Ethernet network private to the agencies used for sharing video and data
Co-location of operational agencies – physical integration Houston
Co-location of primary operations site of State DOT district operations, transit dispatch, and transit police along with representatives from regional police, traffic operations, and commercial traffic reporters allows pooling of resources and establishment of familiarity among staff members from all agencies
Austin CTECC Co-location of operations site for several organizations in the facility housing multi-agency EOC brings benefits in availability of resources and familiarity of staffs to emergencies requiring an activation of the EOC
Restricted access Web site – technical integration Pennsylvania Turnpike Access from the TMC and other authorized organizations to a Web site operated by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency allows for a two-way flow of highly accurate incident information with higher reliability to the Web site than publicly available Web sites provide
Regular interaction among agencies when responding to localized emergencies – operational integration Pennsylvania Turnpike, Austin, Orlando, Houston, Salt Lake City, CalTrans D7, Maryland CHART Many of the centers encourage staff interaction on both a task basis and a casual basis to foster working relationships among staff members. The most common interaction is between TMC staff and law enforcement, but also can include emergency medical, fire, transit, and hazardous materials agencies.

The following provides a more detailed discussion of examples from Boston, Houston TranStar, and Kentucky.

5.3.1 Boston – Integrated Project Control System (IPCS)

The Boston IPCS is an integrated traffic management and tunnel systems control application for Boston’s 7.5-mile central artery and tunnel system. The system is operated by the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority (MassPike) out of its Operations Control Center (OCC). The OCC also works with the 511 service; Smart Routes; other transit and traffic agencies including the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), and MassHighway; and the City of Boston. The control center works very closely with other agencies and emergency services including the State police, local fire departments, EMS, towing services, and roadway maintenance to provide up-to-the-minute communication on travel conditions and incident response.[66] Boston IPCS found that, once established, public and other agencies began to depend on IPCS services, regardless of internal or external pressures that developed. To satisfy this consistent demand, Boston IPCS has implemented several redundant computer systems to ensure operation even if the primary computer fails. In Boston, other agencies depend on the information that Boston IPCS is able to provide. Additionally, computer systems provide traffic management functions and life-critical functions such as ventilation and fire control in area tunnels. To achieve this, Boston runs hot backup systems, so that the loss of the primary system does not result in the disruption of the entire system. The system also distributes its processing among multiple sites, so that functions from malfunctioning processors can be allocated to others. In June 2009, Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill creating the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) that combines MassHighway, MBTA, MassPike, and the Registry of Motor Vehicles. MassDOT began operations on November 1, 2009. According to the website, “transportation employees working together have co-located the MassPike OCC and the MassHighway Traffic Control Center in a single facility. Tobin Bridge traffic cameras were also redistributed to the combined facility in South Boston. From this single location, operators of the State’s bridges, tunnels, and surface roadway systems can now share images and information and communicate directly regarding incidents that may impact different operations.

The communications link between the Tobin Bridge and OCC required the installation of cable including a video and data link to provide operational efficiencies in roadway safety, security, and event response. The combined OCC is staffed 24 hours a day to monitor several major State highways and facilities and detect and report incidents with more than 630 cameras.”[67]

5.3.2 Houston – TranStar

TranStar is a multi-agency TMC that provides traffic management, traveler information, and emergency management to the Houston metropolitan area. To facilitate collaboration, the center hosts law enforcement staff from both Houston Metro and Harris County in a control room. These officers participate in special event planning including special event execution and coordination. Additionally, Houston’s EOC is also co-located within the TMC. Communication is facilitated to allow each agency to focus on its skills, resources, and primary purpose in any situation, resulting in faster consensus.

5.3.3 Frankfort, Kentucky TOC

The Frankfort, Kentucky TOC is a multi-functional center that collects and disseminates traffic and highway incident information to the traveling public. The TOC has implemented an extensive email notification system to relay information to stakeholders around the State, including weather watches and warnings as well as real-time traffic incident information. Additionally, an Office of Homeland Security-mandated FC is co-located in the same center, allowing multiple agencies with different specialties to pool resources to respond to a variety of threats. During a special event or incident, representatives from the Department of Highways; Homeland Security Offices; Kentucky State Police; Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement; FBI; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); Kentucky National Guard; and Kentucky EOC each have the opportunity to join staff at the TOC to address relevant issues, having access to TOC resources and information.

[63] Regional Information Sharing Systems (RISS), Institute for Intergovernmental Research Web site, accessed 2010.

[64] Council on Foreign Relations, Eben Kaplan, Fusion Centers, February 22, 2007, accessed 2010.

[65] U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Integration of Emergency and Weather Elements into Transportation Management Centers, February 2006.

[66] See Massachusetts Turnpike Authority.

[67] See Massachusetts Department of Transportation, “MassDOT Reforms: Traffic Operations Control,” accessed 2010.

June 2010
Publication #FHWA-HOP-09-003