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21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Transportation Management Center Video Recording and Archiving Best General Practices

Chapter 1. Introduction and Report Layout


Today’s Traffic Management Center (TMC) has become a clearinghouse for closed-circuit television (closed-circuit television) images, with traffic cameras owned by many different agencies often streaming images through this focal point of activity. TMCs may handle hundreds of cameras and share feeds not only with peer transportation management agencies, but with law enforcement, with emergency response agencies, and with the public. Policy decisions can have major impacts on the effectiveness of CCTV as a management tool. Procedures and technologies can also have major impacts on staffing needs and operational costs. Recognizing the importance of these topics, the members of the TMC Pooled Fund Study (PFS) prioritized this project. While the legal and resource frameworks vary among agencies, the objective of this task report is to help TMC operators by identifying best general practices for TMC video camera recording and archiving, as well as video sharing and legal issues. This report captures the important findings for use by PFS members and other interested parties.

Report Objectives

The core report objective is to provide information on best general practices in TMC video recording, archiving, and sharing that will help TMC operators make informed decisions on practices within their own unique set of policy, operational, and technological constraints. To support this core objective, the report synthesizes information from available literature with the experience from TMC operators, PFS members, equipment vendors, and consultant team experts. It presents a sampling of TMC video policies and procedures from around the country, provides case studies with more detail, presents legal and technical reference information, and includes copies of select written policies. Drawing from all of this material, the report also includes best general practices to highlight questions and actions for agencies to consider for their operations.

This report does not cover video used for toll processing, for automated enforcement (e.g., red light running or speed enforcement), or for security-focused functions. While those types of video cameras may sometimes be co-located with TMC functions, they are significantly different from traffic management and are outside the scope of the project.


Information contained within this report is drawn from a review of published literature, an online inquiry to selected TMC representatives, review of documents provided by agencies, interviews with TMC PFS members/TMC operators, and insight from the consulting team’s experts.

The list of the 52 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) with populations over one million was used as a starting point to identify a representative sample of individuals and TMCs. Note that some MSAs are served by multiple TMCs and some TMCs service multiple MSAs. Representatives of the identified TMCs were invited to participate in an online inquiry that was structured as a quick, user-friendly way for them to provide input on their own schedules.

A total of 26 individuals responded to the request for information covering a total of 32 of the originally targeted TMCs. See table 1 for a list of represented agencies.

Table 1: Responding agencies to online inquiry.
California DOT (Caltrans)
Florida DOT
Illinois DOT
Iowa DOT
Maryland State Highway Administration
Massachusetts DOT
Michigan DOT
Minnesota DOT
New York State DOT
Niagara International Transportation Technology Coalition
North Carolina DOT
Ohio DOT
Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada
Road Commission for Oakland County (Michigan)
Tennessee DOT
Texas DOT
Virginia DOT
Washington State DOT
Wisconsin DOT

Note: In some cases, participants indicated that their responses applied to multiple Transportation Management Centers within the target list. Department of Transportation is abbreviated as DOT.

In support of the initial online inquiry, more extensive phone interviews were conducted with representatives from more than a half dozen agencies to discuss their practices, experiences, and decisionmaking processes in further detail. The results are interspersed within this report and also form the basis of chapter 8, Case Studies. The agencies from which representatives were interviewed are the Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, Tennessee, Washington, and Wisconsin Departments of Transportation, and the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada. They were selected as a sample to cover a range of approaches to different fundamental policy choices, to represent a variety of geographical perspectives, and in some instances to highlight agencies that have recently changed policies.

Report Organization

The topics of video recording and video sharing are comprised of many interconnected and overlapping issues. This report addresses each of the major recording policy options, including from the legal/policy, operations, and technology perspectives. Although the issues are interrelated, the chapter organization below was developed to provide a logical structure for presenting the information. A brief description of each chapter is as follows:

  • Chapter 1: Introduction and Report Layout. An overview of the report’s objectives, sources, and organization intended to provide sufficient background for the reader not previously familiar with the project.
  • Chapter 2: Successful Practices for Recording and Using Video. This chapter includes a brief discussion of the basic policy question—whether to record always, sometimes, or never. It covers some of the decision factors present in different operating environments. This chapter also covers topics specific to recording and using video, including the use of capability maturity models (CMM) to assign a measure to an organization’s procedures and strategy.
  • Chapter 3: Successful Practices for Fulfilling Requests for Recorded Video. A detailed discussion of the various processes used by TMCs to respond to requests for recorded video from the public and from other agencies.
  • Chapter 4: Successful Practices for Sharing Real-Time Video Images. How some agencies mitigate the risks and deal with the constraints associated with sharing real-time video images with other agencies and with the public.
  • Chapter 5: Technology Issues. This chapter includes an overview of camera and recording technology topics, plus a checklist of considerations for recording systems.
  • Chapter 6: Legal and Policy Issues including the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Since the legal issues vary by State, this chapter identifies issues, provides general information, and gives recommendations on how agencies can seek the knowledge they need to make informed decisions on portions of policy and procedure that are within their control.
  • Chapter 7: Practices for Written Policies and Agreements. Institutions often have varying perspectives on the need for various types of written policies. This chapter presents some of the successful practices for consideration.
  • Chapter 8: Case Studies. The case studies in this chapter show a range of policy and procedure approaches that TMCs are using to maximize the potential benefits of recording and sharing video within their individual policy, institutional, technological, and fiscal constraints.

Best general practices are highlighted by showing them in call-out boxes throughout chapters 2 through 7. The best general practices are derived primarily from the experiences of agencies, and in many cases were drawn directly from the case studies. By embedding them in the chapters, however, they retain their context and provide more direct benefit for the reader who may only be interested in one or two of the issue areas.

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