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21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Transportation Management Center Video Recording and Archiving Best General Practices

Chapter 8. Case Studies

The case studies in this chapter will show a range of policy and procedure approaches that Transportation Management Centers (TMC) are using to maximize the potential benefits of recording and sharing video within their individual policy, institutional, technological, and fiscal constraints. The targeted agencies are listed in alphabetical order as the sections in this chapter.

Iowa Department of Transportation

Table 7: Transportation Management Center policies and procedures at the Iowa Department of Transportation.
Iowa Statewide Traffic Management Center (TMC)
  • Over 300 cameras.
  • Records nearly all feeds for three days since September 2014.
  • Motor Vehicle Enforcement Officer has access to video management system.
Recording Practice
  • The Executive Director of the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) led the decision to start recording all feeds to be used in training and after-action reports. Continuous recording started in 2014.
  • There were concerns about staff needed for releasing recorded video, especially since staffing was being reduced. Iowa DOT staff spoke with Minnesota DOT staff, who were also recording most of their cameras and fulfilling requests for video, and learned that it wasn’t an overwhelming burden.
Releasing Recorded Video
  • Both external and internal requests come through a Web link: (figure 12).
  • The page is NOT linked from elsewhere on Iowa DOT’s Web site, but is given to law enforcement agencies. It does accept requests from individuals not associated with law enforcement agencies.
  • Reported a low burden responding to requests—few requests (a few each week; 90 percent from law enforcement) and adequate staff resources.
  • Currently, requests are mostly handled by the "Traveler Information Program Manager," but considering allowing the "Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officer" to handle enforcement requests, especially so that law enforcement can obtain video faster.
  • When subpoenaed, they have been successful demonstrating integrity of video through a few strategies including limiting access to the video files to only a few people (major reason that TMC operators do not process video requests), sending them via secure File Transfer Protocol (FTP), and keeping a copy as an official record.
Sharing Real-time Images
  • Iowa is the lead agency for the multistate Condition Acquisition and Reporting System (CARS) that includes video distribution through 511 and to over 100 other third-party entities.
  • Sharing images has been popular and well received.

Figure 12: Screenshot. Iowa Department of Transportation Web site for requesting recorded video.

Figure 12 is a screen shot of the Web site through which one can request recorded video from the Iowa Department of Transportation.

(Source: Iowa Department of Transportation)

Minnesota Department of Transportation

Table 8: Transportation Management Center policies and procedures at the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
Minnesota Regional Transportation Management Center (TMC)
  • ~760 cameras.
  • Records nearly all feeds for 4 days.
Recording Practice
  • Minnesota is believed to be the first State to record all feeds continuously.
  • Their recording program evolved as technologies changed, benefits of recording were recognized, needs changed, and opportunities for upgrading systems were seized.
    • Before 2002, Video home system (VHS) was manually activated for capturing incidents for training.
    • Between 2002 and 2007, several digital video recorders (DVR) were added to cover groups of cameras for specific needs (such as installation of new cable median barrier, change of a High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane to High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lane, and monitoring top crash locations).
    • In 2008, was able to shift to networked video recorder (NVR) "all camera" system based on the confluence of three factors: I‑35 bridge collapse which highlighted the need for a redundant IP video backup to the existing analog video distribution network, significant server hardware was available at no cost from another Minnesota DOT (MnDOT) unit that didn't need it, and video management software was used for coordinating cameras for the 2008 Republican National Convention.
    • Some people within the agency had not been in favor of the expanded recording, but given the 2008 needs and opportunities, it was decided to try. It has continued since the value gained has been seen to outweigh the extra work distributing recorded video.
  • According to the "MnDOT Traffic Imagery Recording and Distribution" document dated 12/4/12, the retention time subject to change due to factors such as network health and compression efficiency, but requests should be received within two to four days so that video can be saved before automatic overwriting.
  • According to the same document, images archived by an operator are retained as follows:
    • For requests from a governmental agency for investigation, one year.
    • For requests from the media or the public, 90 days.
    • For research requests, may be deleted immediately following transfer to requestor.
    • For training or education, varies—can be deleted upon completion of training up through being kept indefinitely.
  • It is also effective to record the output of a dispatcher's monitor since it will capture moving incidents camera-to-camera such as pursuits and driving complaints. This captures what the dispatcher was viewing live which, along with 911 call audio and radio logs, provides a tidy and logical narrative for criminal court presentation. It is also significantly more efficient to save one video feed, instead of piecing together dozens of cameras over several minutes.
Releasing Recorded Video—Process and Burden
  • Burden rates as low to medium for many requests, but adequate staff. Is about 1/5 Full-Time Equivalents (FTE) with an average of four requests per day, a number which has approximately doubled in the past five years.
  • Requests from the public and internal MnDOT requests can be via phone or email. Some requests come through the Minnesota Data Practices Office. The Minnesota State Patrol (MSP), approximately 50 percent of the requests, uses a written request form. The majority of MSP requests are for confirmed incidents, known to be captured on camera, like driving complaints (i.e., drunk drivers) and for non-valid drivers who have been cited and instructed to contact a valid driver, but then drive off after the Patrol leaves. The majority of public requests (including lawyers and insurance) are research requests to see if an incident was recorded, or if specific details are visible, which rarely is the case.
  • Video requests of one or two cameras, and up to about one hour, are archived as Microsoft video audio video interface (AVI) file. Requests for multiple cameras and/or several hours, are fulfilled using the software’s proprietary export process, requiring a viewer program. Proprietary exports must be distributed via a thumb drive or portable hard drive (for very large requests). Video clips requested by MSP are copied to a thumb drive on a weekly basis, the contents of which are then downloaded by a State Patrol dispatch supervisor to an MSP secure network location, available only to the MSP investigators who are offsite. The MSP investigators are then responsible for making copies for the requesting Trooper. Requests by non-State Patrol law enforcement, civilian, insurance, and lawyers are posted to a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) site and a link sent for them to download the file. MnDOT is currently investigating options for alternatives to FTP.
  • Successful strategies for minimizing burden include:
    • Keep the process simple and scalable. Want to be able to be able to absolutely respond if a video exists of not within 20 seconds without referring to others to check.
    • Limit the number of people responding to archiving requests to prevent duplication and mislabeling. Preferably one person plus a backup.
    • Use electronic distribution (FTP or Dropbox) as much as possible. Avoid compact disc (CD)/digital video disc (DVD) duplication. Only use thumb drives or hard drives for very large requests.
    • Have a standard searchable file naming convention for recorded clips. Minnesota uses:
      There is a space between each field. Date is preferably YR/MO/DA. Time is in 24-hour format. An example of event type is “DC”—driver complaint. Case number is omitted if not available.
  • Additional lessons learned:
    • Manage expectations for video quality and time to response (within business hours).
Releasing Recorded Video—Legal and Evidence Issues
  • Meet with law enforcement investigators to discuss their policies/practices of releasing their squad car video and discuss what could be applied to Transportation Management Center (TMC) video.
  • Clearly define with law enforcement how video will be released. Preferably, make one copy, give it to the lead agency, and make them responsible for further release (such as to the prosecutors, defense, media, etc.) They could release the video as part of the record of the investigation.
  • Have a standard practice for logging video evidence and making it available to support chain of custody.
  • Having a manager, or at least supervisor, handle archiving also has the benefit of limiting who would be called by a subpoena to appear in court.
  • There haven’t been problems with the video not being encrypted or time stamped (as it is in casinos.) It may help that the Department of Transportation (DOT) is seen as neutral in most cases, as opposed to casinos which both manage the video and have an interest in the case.
  • Privacy hasn't been a major concern since roadways are public space and there is little expectation of privacy. Some exceptions exist, such as identifying individuals or viewing homes. Note that public information availability statues protect students in a school setting which includes school buses.
Sharing Real-Time Images
  • Streaming video is shared with other roadway agencies, law enforcement/emergency responders, television media, and some professional traffic reporting companies.
  • Due to bandwidth, streaming to 511 is limited. Instead, stills are posted.
Camera Use Policy
  • Recognizing that camera video is typically available real-time and can be requested, the "Traffic Cameras Use Office Practice" dated 8/12/15 requires that all users of the camera system position the cameras to traffic flow. Even when viewing an incident, the camera MUST be zoomed far enough out such that people cannot be identified by their faces.
  • There is an option in the Active Traffic Management System (ATMS) software (IRIS) to “un-publish” individual cameras so they are blocked from real-time viewing outside the RTMC. This option is only available to TMC staff. Cameras are only to be un-published under very limited circumstances such as fatal or potentially fatal incidents when the camera cannot be repositioned away from personally identifiable vehicles or individuals, national security events (like Presidential motorcades) or when a camera is stuck in an inappropriate view, such as a house. The feature was added in 2008.

New Jersey Department of Transportation

Table 9: Transportation Management Center policies and procedures at the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
New Jersey State Transportation Management Center (STMC)
  • More than 400 cameras.
  • Records most feeds continuously.
Recording Practice
  • Feeds are retained for a minimum of seven days before being automatically overwritten.
  • New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) has trailer-mounted cameras and a vehicle-mounted camera that has been used from an Incident Management Response Team vehicle during major special events.
Release of Recorded Video
  • Information for the public to request video.
  • There is a PDF form that must be emailed within seven days of incident.
  • The requests do not go through the typical NJDOT Open Public Records Act processing agency, the Official Custodian of Records within the Office of Inspector General. Rather, they are routed to the Statewide Traffic Management Center (STMC).
  • Many requests, particularly from the public, are well beyond the published availability or have referenced cameras that are actually video detection cameras.
  • The STMC manager typically processes requests, both for law enforcement partners and from the public.
  • Initially, the agency released clips in the agency's video management system’s proprietary format with the copy of the video management' system’s video player. However, many recipients had difficulty accessing the video.
  • Currently, the agency converts the video to Microsoft’s Advanced Systems Format (ASF) prior to release.
  • For the public, fees can be charged: $100 first three hours and $50 per hour thereafter plus any postage. Fees collected go into a general fund for NJDOT activities, not to the STMC budget.
Highlighted Benefits of Releasing Recorded Video
  • Sharing video with local enforcement agencies has been very beneficial for developing rapport that strengthens Traffic Incident Management (TIM) activities.
  • Recorded video from portable cameras in work zones can be used to check if lanes are opened and closed within allowable schedules.
Sharing Real-Time Images
  • Streaming video is available to the public via 511NJ.
  • New York-New Jersey-Connecticut area agencies also share cameras with each other through a login-based system.
  • Special events and major construction projects have been the catalysts for extra cameras and increased sharing among agencies.

Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada

Table 10: Transportation Management Center policies and procedures at the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Southern Nevada.
RTC of Southern Nevada
  • Approximately 500 cameras.
  • Never records video.
  • Does collect screen shots for performance management and studies.
Recording Practice
  • At one time, video was recorded for seven days, but following a negative experience with an incident, it was decided not to record.
  • Recording streaming video is not considered necessary for traffic management functions.
  • Their central software allows technicians to right click on the map to create an incident record (figure 13).
  • One of the tabs allows users to populate a 3x3 grid with nearby cameras. Using a custom script, a composite of the images is recorded every 15 seconds for the duration of the incident (figure 14).
  • The images can be reviewed later to collect key incident clearance events (figure 15.) The images also reveal length and dissipation of queues.
Sharing Real-time Images
  • Streaming video is available through the agency's Web site and it is provided to the media.
  • The agency's Web site includes a form to take user questions and reports of camera views that are unavailable.
  • The main value to the travelers is considered to be through the media since there is greater exposure. It also shows the public that the cameras are being used to provide value.

Figure 13: Screenshot. Snapshot of central software used by the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Southern Nevada.

Figure 13 shows how incidents are tracked within the central software used by Freeway and Arterial System of Transportation (FAST), a Transportation Management Center within the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada system.

(Source: RTC of Southern Nevada)

Figure 14: Screenshot. Snapshot of image recording feature during incidents within the central software used by the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Southern Nevada.

Building off of Figure 13, Figure 14 shows an additional screen shot that illustrates how incidents are tracked within the central software used by Freeway and Arterial System of Transportation (FAST).

(Source: RTC of Southern Nevada)

Figure 15: Screenshot. Snapshot of information collected from images within the central software used by the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Southern Nevada.

Building off of Figures 13 and 14, Figure 15 shows an additional screen shot that illustrates how incidents are tracked within the central software used by Freeway and Arterial System of Transportation (FAST).

(Source: RTC of Southern Nevada)

Tennessee Department of Transportation

Table 11: Transportation Management Center policies and procedures at the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
Tennessee Department of Transportation (including their four regional TMCs)
  • ~500 cameras.
  • Only record for training purposes.
  • Leverages agreement to share video for enhanced notification of incidents to Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and also for enhanced Traffic Incident Management (TIM) participation.
Recording Practice
  • TDOT focuses on the use of real-time video for traffic management, limiting recording to training purposes. Also:
    • Only one stream at a time can be recorded.
    • Lack of storage space for extensive recording.
    • There is a lack of staff resources to handle requests for extensive archived video.
Releasing Live Video
  • One Department of Transportation's (DOT) information technology (IT) department determined that the legacy access provided by the media for streaming video was not secure enough. That need, along with the needs to provide access to local agencies inexpensively and to provide easy video access for senior team to view ongoing events, prompted procurement of a new software solution to handle video sharing. It includes modules for media access, emergency responder access, and an executive view portal.
  • Video is streamed to a mobile Web site, as shown in figure 16 from a TDOT promotional video for their SmartWay traveler information service.
Releasing Live Video—Access Agreements
  • The access agreements for both emergency responders and for private entities include user responsibilities to:
    • Notify TDOT of unexpected incidents, such as crashes, roadway debris, or traffic signal failures. For any incidents were TDOT or the Tennessee Highway Patrol are not already on scene, notification is to be made within 10 minutes of noticing the incident.
    • Collaborate with TDOT for traffic management of planned events.
  • The access agreement for emergency responder entities further requires:
    • Active participation in the National TIM Responder Training Program, including that within one year of signing the agreement, any employee of the agency responding to the scene of the incident shall have attended a 4-hour, in-person training session.
    • Support for abiding by the safe and quick clearance approach.
    • Active participation in TDOT’s quarterly Regional Traffic Incident Management meetings, including providing the names of a primary individual and backup with authority to speak on behalf of the agency who will participate.
  • The access agreement for private entities invites them to
    • Participate in TDOT’s quarterly Regional Traffic Incident Management.
    • Attend Traffic Incident Management training.
  • Involving the media in TIM can be mutually beneficial during major incidents when news trucks are on scene, such as for agreeing on places to park and knowing who may be sharing information.

Figure 16: Photo. Screen capture of the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s SmartWay traveler information service.

Figure 16 is a screen capture of the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s SmartWay traveler information service from a promotional video. It shows someone holding a smart phone on which the SmartWay service is open. The smart phone screen is showing two images of a roadway that allow the user to inspect traffic conditions.

(Source: SmartWay)

Washington State Department of Transportation

Table 12: Transportation Management Center policies and procedures at the Washington State Department of Transportation.
Northwest Region Transportation Management Center (TMC)
  • ~700 cameras (adding 500 more, including tunnel safety cameras, in near future).
  • Only record under limited situations.
Recording Practice
  • The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has a long-standing practice of only recording for specific limited purposes, such as training, data collection/observation, special events, and research.
  • They stress aligning use of video to the agency’s mission.
  • Recordings are typically kept for less than a week, though recordings that are used as visual support to a study may be kept as long as needed.
  • Recordings may be deleted after sharing with the requesting entity.
  • For security cameras, which are on the same network as traffic management cameras, the practice is to record on a three-day loop so that investigations can be made of things that happened over the weekend.
Releasing Recorded Video
  • Recordings are typically considered "raw data," much like field photographs, so are not subject to retention and release like reports are.
  • The public can request recordings of video under the Washington State Public Records Act through the WSDOT Records and Information Services office in Olympia. The request would then be routed to the appropriate Transportation Management Center (TMC) based on location for checking if a recording exists. By law, a response is required within five business days containing, the record requested, an acknowledgment of the request with an estimate of time to process, or a denial.
  • However, requests are almost certainly futile since so little video is kept or considered a record.
Sharing Real-Time Images
  • The WSDOT Web site shows still images updated every two minutes.
  • Video is also shared with other roadway agencies, law enforcement/emergency responders, the media, and third parties.
  • More than a decade ago, WSDOT had a formal agreement for sharing video including a hold harmless clause, but video is now so widely distributed it was deemed not necessary.
  • WSDOT developed a module for their freeway management software in-house that allows selective cutting of feeds to various users.
  • Entities that receive shared video may record video per their own record-keeping policies.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation

Table 13: Transportation Management Center policies and procedures at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
Statewide Traffic Operations Center (STOC)
  • ~400 cameras.
  • Records nearly all feeds for at least 72 hours.
  • Statewide 24/7 coverage since 2007.
Recording Practice
  • When STOC was created in 2007, video management systems were put into place that enabled the continuous recording of all feeds. Current practice is:
    • Nearly all cameras recorded for a minimum of 72 hours. The agency does not feel a need for a longer minimum time.
    • If a clip is tagged for saving, it will be saved for a maximum of 120 days.
  • Prior to that, recording was sporadic using videocassette recorders (VCR) after an incident was detected.
  • The Wisconsin Department of Transporation (WisDOT) decided to record all of the feeds because it recognized the value in being able to see and understand the beginning of the incident. The technology was available at the time of the investment in creating the STOC to enable the change.
Benefits of Camera Images in Traffic Incident Management (TIM)
  • From WisDOT’s "CCTV's [closed-circuit television] Role in WisDOT's TIM [Traffic Incident Management] Success" CCTV/TIM webinar, by Anne Rashadi, P.E. WisDOT Bureau of Traffic Operations and Daniel Graff, WisDOT Office of General Counsel, November 21, 2013 (figures 17 through 19).
Release of Recorded Video
  • Under Wisconsin law, video is a "record" and as such is subject to open records and video selected to be kept beyond the automatic 72 hours is subject to records retention requirements. Video will be released unless it would violate a specific set of conditions, though it would not be available until after law enforcement have an active investigation.
  • The Archive Video Administrator spends an average of six to eight hours per week processing zero to four requests per day each taking 15 to 60 minutes. The agency considers this a low burden since while there are many requests, there are adequate staff resources.
  • There is no cost to requestors.
  • Video is typically distributed on a digital video disc (DVD), but other media can be used for larger requests.
  • To limit requests for areas without camera coverage, the agency suggests that requestors check 511 for camera locations.
  • In-house information technology (IT) staff wrote a helpful program to tracks requests for video.

Figure 17: Screenshot. Presentation slide detailing the benefits of closed-circuit television recording for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), part 1.

Figure 17 shows a presentation slide from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s webinar entitled “Closed-Circuit Television’s Role in Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Traffic Incident Management Success.”

(Source: WisDOT)

Figure 18: Presentation slide detailing the benefits of closed-circuit television recording for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), part 2.

Building off of Figure 17, Figure 18 shows a presentation slide from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s webinar entitled “Closed-Circuit Television’s (CCTV) Role in Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Traffic Incident Management Success.”

(Source: WisDOT)

Figure 19: Presentation slide detailing the benefits of closed-circuit television recording for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), part 3.

Building off of Figure 17 and Figure 18, Figure 19 shows a presentation slide from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s webinar entitled “Closed-Circuit Television’s Role in Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Traffic Incident Management Success.”

(Source: WisDOT)

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