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

5. Case Studies

5.1. Oklahoma Department of Transportation

5.1.1. Background

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) has deployed a full Virtual TMC. ODOT considered implementing an integrated, multi-agency, centralized TMC, but it was not feasible due to the costs associated with building, operating, and maintaining such a facility. As a result, ODOT in partnership with the University of Oklahoma Intelligent Transportation Systems Laboratory designed a low-cost, distributed, Virtual TMC using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) desktop computers and an open source GIS mapping software.

The Virtual TMC consists of a geographically distributed fault-tolerant network of desktops referred to as ITS Pathfinder or ITS consoles, which are capable of controlling ITS devices visible on the statewide private ITS network.

ODOT provides stakeholder agencies with ITS consoles along with multiple channel Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) capability to allow interagency voice communications. In rural areas where fiber optic capability is not available, ITS consoles with limited multi-channel video capability can still be deployed provided that there is an Internet connection capable of supporting a secure VPN.

5.1.2. Architectural Overview41

The network backbone consists of a Virtual Local Area Network (VLAN) implemented over a dedicated Gigabit Ethernet (GigE) network which enables connectivity between the ODOT Headquarters in Oklahoma City and ODOT Division offices around the State. The statewide private ITS fiber optic network covers most of the State.

Under normal conditions where the network is fully connected, all ITS Consoles maintain a common database that fully describes the state of all devices connected to the network, including lists of all mutually visible ITS consoles. Control is fully distributed and the system is fault-tolerant in the sense that in case of partial or catastrophic network failures, any group of connected consoles can continue to function and continue to control and manage all ITS resources visible within their group. Throughout the outage, database update messages destined for consoles that are not currently visible are queued until network connectivity is re-established.

The main design philosophy is that any sufficiently privileged operator can be logged into any console at any time and can control/utilize all ITS resources currently visible to that console. Figure 33 illustrates ODOT's ITS network.

Diagram describes the connections between the ODOT Hut and other huts, residencies, local networks, a toll authority, and state agencies.
Figure 33. Graph. Distributed Topology of the Oklahoma ITS Network42

5.1.3. Deployment and Operations

The ODOT Virtual TMC model is managed by ODOT personnel, but there is no dedicated staff assigned to operate the system nor does ODOT have a TMC. Instead, the system is operated jointly with partner agencies.

Currently, there are 45 agencies participating in this endeavor. ODOT has in place a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with each agency. The MOU covers roles and responsibilities, policies and procedures, priorities, "do's" and "don'ts," as well as guidelines for incidents, weather, amber alerts, and appropriate public service announcements.

There are 200 miles of statewide coverage with ITS devices. Most of the devices are located within the Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Lawton and McAllister areas.

The ITS Pathfinder/ITS Consoles consists of various protocols including CCTVs, DMS, RWIS, traffic sensors, and event management, which are integrated into a single system.

ITS Consoles are currently deployed around the State in locations including, but not limited to:

  • 911 centers, Department of Public Safety, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, municipal government agencies, and regional associations of municipal governments and various ODOT departments.
  • The residences of appointed ODOT managers, where they can access and control ITS devices by connecting to an ITS console through an ISP provided device if the appropriate security hardware is installed on their PC.

There are approximately 75-100 deployed ITS consoles protected by a solid firewall system built using Private Internet eXchange (PIX) and data encryption.

ODOT monitors, maintains and supports the system and also provides training to all partner agencies on an ongoing basis. User privileges are set up by ODOT personnel.

5.1.4. Lessons Learned

From the development of the concept of operations to the maintenance of the Virtual TMC, ODOT has had strong support from upper management. Upper management understands the level of effort and the costs associated with deploying a Virtual TMC. This has proven to be a tremendous benefit for this endeavor, illustrating the need for agency support as a prerequisite to establishing a viable Virtual TMC.

In addition, ODOT's long-term partnership with Oklahoma University has allowed the agency to benefit from cutting edge technology, although there is some vulnerability to risk since ODOT is a pioneer in this area.

Another lesson is to use inter-agency MOUs, which in ODOT's case have promoted a good rapport amongst ODOT's partner agencies. This has led to trust and the establishment of lasting relationships, and has proven to be one of the reasons for the success of the Virtual TMC.

5.2. Idaho Department of Transportation

5.2.1. Background

In 2006, the Interagency Regional Operations Center (IROC) was initiated by numerous agencies in Idaho to develop a concept and high-level design of a co-located facility. The goal of the effort was to bring multiple agencies under one roof to manage and respond to incidents and emergencies. However, the implementation of that facility has not materialized yet. As a result, in 2012 the Idaho Transportation Department's (ITD) commissioned a feasibility study to examine existing systems and conduct a needs assessment prior to moving forward with the implementation of a virtual operations center network. The aim of this virtual network initiative is to promote collaboration amongst agencies and allow them to share information.

ITD defines its vision as follows:

The goal of this virtual TMC concept is to establish a standardized approach to systems used statewide that support traffic and incident management. This includes ITD providing the foundation of their ATMS system to transportation departments and public safety departments throughout the state to leverage their device control/operations to create an integrated environment statewide controlled by permissions. This includes the potential in the future for creating a standardized approach to CAD systems and their operations with the idea of information and cost sharing across state, county, and city partners, which local public safety and sheriff's offices could take advantage of with this shared/integrated system over time. 43

5.2.2. Virtual TMC Initiatives

In 2012, ITD also procured an Advanced Transportation Management System (ATMS) to manage the region's transportation system. With this initiative, ITD is offering the ATMS system to partner agencies as a centralized system for ITS device and operational system management and control. The aim is to share data and video with other agencies to enhance their operations and better manage the transportation system.

ITD developed a formal agreement for the connection to and use of their ATMS system. Agencies (e.g., transportation, public safety) or media outlets can request access to the ATMS system to view information based on privileges granted by ITD.

Under the virtual network environment, agencies would have access to streaming video of the transportation network (both freeway and arterial), DMS messages, data archives, incident reporting, event management, and weather conditions data.

ITD connection requirements include both Direct and Not Direct connection to their ATMS system.

  • Direct Connection – via direct fiber or wireless network.
  • Not Direct Connection – Connection to ITD intranet via external internet browser or VPN.

Figure 34 shows the types of connection to the system that are available.

Conceptual diagram depicts a direct fiber connection between two firewalls, a VPN tunnel used to safely connect on the internet between two firewalls, and an internet connection via public web pages that uses authentication information to provide access.
Figure 34. Graph. Agency Connection Types (to the ATMS)44

5.2.3. Deployment and Operations

The ITD TMC is co-located with Idaho's Police Dispatch. The TMC is responsible for monitoring and managing US Routes, State Routes and Intestate Routes throughout the State.

TMC personnel are contracted by the Department of Health and Welfare, which overlooks the Emergency Management Services (EMS) Bureau. In essence, TMC staff is EMS staff. Therefore, TMC personnel perform other functions unrelated to transportation management (e.g., dispatching medical personnel). The TMC supports operation of CCTVs, DMS, HAR, RWIS, a 511 system, and data archival of reports.

ITD is operating a browser-based ATMS system, which can be managed remotely. There are six District Offices with access to the ATMS system. District Offices are able to manage systems within their own jurisdictions (e.g., CCTV, DMS), but only have viewing privileges of other District offices. Each office has a Traffic Engineer and System Operations Engineer with access to the ATMS. However, only EMS staff has access to operate the entire ATMS system.

In the event of an emergency, personnel have the ability to take over each other's operations, but at this time training is needed. There have not been any drills or workshops to determine the exact process and circumstances of when this could occur.

The TMC network is monitored by the State Communication Center, which is the System Administrator for ITD. The ATMS is also monitored by the ATMS contractor. The ATMS system is only accessible on the intranet or over VPN. VPN privileges are reserved for System Administrators and the ATMS contractor.

At this time, ITD has MOUs in place with the State Police, 911 (Kootenai County) and the Sheriff's Department. ITD is looking at establishing agreements with WSDOT for the eastern part of the State as well as with media outlets.

The biggest challenge for ITD is bureaucracy, so establishing partnerships and agreements with the counties has been challenging. It appears that there is hesitation from other agencies and government offices in joining ITD's virtual network.

5.3. Nebraska Department of Roads

5.3.1. Background

Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR) has eight Districts. There are seven District Operation Centers and one Statewide Operations Center in Lincoln, District 1. All centers are responsible for monitoring and managing incidents on interstate freeways and State highways. The centers do not oversee county roads, rural highways, or city streets.

5.3.2. Virtual Initiatives

Currently, the NDOR is working towards establishing agreements with the City of Omaha and the City of Lincoln to view their CCTV and DMS, as well as to access any other ITS devices. In addition, there are ongoing talks with Iowa DOT and Wyoming DOT about sharing their camera feeds. As this time, firewalls pose the biggest technical issue among the agencies.

Nebraska's vision is to move toward one Operation Center in District 2 (Omaha), which oversees the largest urban area in the region, and one statewide center. Ideally, NDOR will also move towards a full browser-based ATMS.

The Statewide Center has been built and was opened in April 2014.

5.3.3. Deployment and Operations

Each of the eight Districts manages its own region as well as supporting other Districts' operations as needed. Only District 1 (Lincoln) and District 2 (Omaha) have full-time TMC staff and operate 24x7 during emergencies. All other Districts are staffed by Nebraska Department of Roads employees, who have other duties within the Department of Roads, and operate normal business hours.

NDOR is operating an ATMS system, which has a browser-based module called Highways Condition Reporting. Part of the system can be managed remotely via VPN, allowing staff to report incidents. Hierarchy and privileges have been established in the ATMS system, which allows authorized staff to cover other regions' functions.

The ATMS supports the operation of CCTV, automated gates, DMS, speed information, and RWIS.

5.3.4. The ATMS System

One of NDOR's primary goals of their ITS deployment was to enable one-common integrated system application called the District Operations Center Software System (DOC SS) that performs the following key functions:

  • Acts as the nucleus for incident and traffic management across the state by integrating all of the key functions used across all Nebraska districts
  • Via a simple web-based application, allows all applicable NDOR staff to monitor the roadway, enter new roadway information and control key ITS field devices via any personal computer with an internet browser
  • Provide interfaces for monitoring and control of ITS field infrastructure via the established ITS communications infrastructure. ITS field devices include:
    • Full Motion CCTV Cameras
    • Snapshot CCTV cameras (at weather stations)
    • Dynamic Message signs (DMS)
    • Portable Dynamic Message Signs (PDMS)
    • Environmental Sensor Stations (ESS)
    • Vehicle Detection Sensors (VDS)
    • Mainline and Ramp Gate Control Systems (near future)
    • Anti-Icing Systems (near future)
  • Provide interfaces with other key external systems including:
    • Highway Conditions Reporting System (HCRS) – System for entering and maintaining all roadway conditions information.
    • Intelligent Notification System – System for automated notification of staff via page, text message, e-mail, phone and fax regarding key events such as major accidents.
    • Enterprise Asset Management System (EAMS) – Used to manage state-owned assets (e.g. field cabinets, light poles, guard rail, etc.) and information regarding their maintenance.
    • Nebraska Service Patrol Computer Aided Dispatch (NSPCAD) – Monitors activities of Nebraska's Highway Patrol.
    • Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS) – Used to monitor locations of maintenance vehicles such as snow plows using Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) technology.

The end result is that the DOC SS allows all systems associated with incident or traffic management to be accessible to all NDOR employees, wherever they are, from one single software application.

The end result of the initial system deployment is depicted in Figure 35. The DOC SS installation is a distributed, fault-tolerant, and redundant architecture which involves the installation of three (3) PC servers in District 2 DOC and three (3) servers at the Computer Operations Room at the NDOR Headquarters. All servers run the Microsoft Windows Operating System (OS). Three of the servers in one district act as the primary servers with the second set in the other district acting as secondary or backup. This redundant configuration allows for the 99.5% uptime requirement. In the event anything happens to a server at the primary location, the secondary server acts as a backup. Should one DOC lose power or become inoperable for any reason, the secondary DOC assumes control via connection to the IP field network. Districts 3 through 8 do not contain any dedicated DOC SS servers. Only PC workstations with statewide WAN access are required.

High level architecture depicting the interconnections supporting an ATMS deployment.
Figure 35. Graph. NDOR ATMS Deployment Diagram45

5.4. Kansas Department of Transportation

5.4.1. Background

Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) conducted a study to evaluate various TMC deployment options. KDOT determined that it would be viable to deploy a Virtual TMC due to the reduced cost of neither staffing nor maintaining a typical TMC building, as well as the rural nature of the state. The cost of providing traveler information over DMSs was significantly reduced with the chosen model. The only additional cost to KDOT is staff sharing for one workstation at the Wichita 911 center. In this instance, both agencies share the cost for the dedicated workstation.

5.4.2. Architectural Overview

The Virtual TMC software is hosted on KDOT thin client servers, and it is an off-the-shelf software coined MIST. There is one central database for MIST and for all field equipment. There are six Districts, each with 2 to 4 area offices, all offices have access to the central database.

In addition the KDOT ITS unit, area supervisors and engineers are able to use the system through VPN. VPN access is granted to users upon approval. On average there are 30-40 users using the system throughout the day.

5.4.3. Deployment and Operations

KDOT operates the system 8am - 5pm. Kansas City Scout and Missouri DOT (jointly) have access and operate the system after hours, both agencies operate 24x7. Scout manages messages statewide.

Each District is responsible for monitoring their own CCTVs and managing their own DMS signs. CCTVs are checked daily, there are only 60 CCTVs statewide and they are on average 30 miles apart. The Wichita and Tapioca areas have speed detection (VDS), CCTVs and DMS.

There are SOPs in place for each District and for backup operations.

Weather events can affect the state at any time and are of great concern since interstates can be significantly affected (e.g. complete closures). Therefore, KDOT has staff on standby 24x7. Primary system operators include maintenance supervisors and area engineers, and there are no dispatching activities for EMS.

System training is provided to 911 operators in Wichita and other KDOT staff by KDOT engineers.

Figure 36 depicts travel information provided to travels via Kansas Traveler Information website.

Screen shot depicting a navigation panel at left and part of a traffic map at right.
Figure 36. Graph. Screenshot from KanDrive46

5.4.4. Lessons Learned

The biggest challenge during the implementation of the Virtual TMC was related to KDOT own in-house network policies including the ban use of multi-cast video, bandwidth restrictions, network policies, challenges implementing new technology across the network, and appointing the right staff to manage the network switches and video. The IT department in KDOT did all the work and the system has been in operations since 2008.

41 Distributed ITS Control and the Oklahoma Virtual TMC white paper – October 2, 2009. [ Return to note 41. ]

42 Ibid. [ Return to note 42. ]

43 Idaho Transportation Department, Statewide Implementation Plan, Final Report, January 2013. [ Return to note 43. ]

44 Ibid. [ Return to note 44. ]

45 Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR) District Operations Center Software Solution Deployment Plan, May 2007. [ Return to note 45. ]

46 Kansas Department of Transportation Traveler Information website: [ Return to note 46. ]

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