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21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Integrated Corridor Management and the Smart Cities Revolution: Leveraging Synergies


"Smart Cities"

The concept of "smart cities" is a relatively recent one, dating to the early 2000s as a response to growing urbanism and the return of population and commerce to cities. Its growth as a concept is due in no small part to technological advances that began replacing old style information "stove piping" with data sharing and improved communication. This in turn drove increased demand for more-accountable public services from cities that formerly had deteriorating infrastructure, inefficient systems, and limited public agency resources.

As a concept, smart cities is perhaps only slightly older than integrated corridor management (ICM), which is defined as a practical application of a smart cities objective, albeit within the defined cordon of a corridor, not necessarily city wide.

In 2014, as a means to position the emerging connected vehicle community of strategies into the concurrently emerging smart cities movement, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Joint Program Office (JPO) defined a smart (or "connected") city as "a system of interconnected systems, including employment, health care, retail/entertainment, public services, residences, energy distribution, and not least, transportation. This 'system of systems' is tied together by information and communications technologies (ICT) that transmit and process data about all sorts of activities within the city."1

In many ways smart cities are still lagging in terms of technological maturity, primarily because smart cities initiatives must overcome decades of public service "culture" and overhaul a much wider breadth of services than ICM initiatives.

Integrated Corridor Management Fundamentals

ICM exists as a complementary process under the tenets and precepts of a smart cities umbrella. In traditional urban transportation corridors, each transportation agency within the corridor typically would handle operations independently. While the operators may collaborate or interact to some extent to react to incidents or plan to manage pre-planned events, each agency mostly conducts day-to-day operations autonomously. When congestion and the number of incidents increases over time, this "reactionary" method of operation becomes less effective in meeting the transportation needs of the businesses and people that rely upon the corridor.

The vision of ICM is that transportation networks will realize significant improvements in the efficient movement of people and goods through aggressive, proactive integration of existing infrastructure along major corridors. ICM stakeholders include public transportation agencies, such as State and local departments of transportation (DOT), metropolitan planning organizations (MPO), and transit agencies. Through an ICM approach, transportation professionals manage the corridor as a multimodal system and make operational decisions for the benefit of the corridor as a whole. Smart cities seek to incorporate emerging information and communications technologies within existing infrastructure systems, such as transportation networks, in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public sector services. As smart cities pilot programs kick off across the country, FHWA has a unique opportunity to integrat mature ICM strategies into smart cities solutions to address transportation challenges. Adding definition to the relationship between ICM and smart cities will improve the integration of stakeholders, issues, and solutions into ICM and broader smart cities transportation strategies.

This primer will:

  • Examine how ICM can integrate smart cities strategies.
  • Examine how existing ICM approaches can advance, inform, and even help lead smart cities initiatives.
  • Explore opportunities to effectively integrate strategies institutionally, operationally, and technically, both by leveraging existing platforms and considering new options for coordination between ICM and smart cities stakeholders.
  • Identify potential challenges to integrating ICM and smart cities, along with potential solutions.

The ICM approach is based on three fundamental concepts: a corridor-level operations "nexus"; agency integration through institutional, operational, and technical means; and active management of all available, and hopefully participating, corridor assets and facilities. Each of these concepts is described below.

Corridor-level focus on operations is one the fundamental elements of ICM. The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) defines a corridor as a travel shed that serves a particular travel market or markets that are characterized by similar transportation needs and mobility issues. A combination of networks comprising facility types and modes provide complementary functions to meet those mobility needs. These networks may include freeways, limited access facilities, surface arterials, public transit, and bicycle and pedestrian facilities, among others. Cross-network connections permit travelers to seamlessly transfer between networks for a truly multimodal transportation experience.

Integration requires actively managing assets in a unified way so that actions can be taken to benefit the corridor as a whole, not just a particular piece of it. Integration occurs along three dimensions:

  • Institutional Integration - Coordination and collaboration between various agencies and jurisdictions (i.e., transportation network owners) in support of ICM, including the distribution of specific operational responsibilities and the sharing of control functions in a manner that transcends institutional boundaries.
  • Operational Integration - Implementation of multi-agency transportation management strategies, often in real-time, that promote information sharing and coordinated operations across the various transportation networks in the corridor and facilitate management of the total capacity and demand of the corridor.
  • Technical Integration - The means by which affected agencies share and distribute information, system operations, and control functions among networks and their respective transportation management systems, and the means by which affected agencies can immediately view and evaluate the impacts of operational decisions. Examples include communication links between agencies, system interfaces, and associated standards. This cannot be accomplished without institutional and operational integration.

The Integrated Corridor Management Research Initiative

USDOT started the formal ICM Research Initiative in 2006 to explore and develop ICM concepts and approaches and to advance the deployment of ICM systems throughout the country. Initially, eight pioneer sites were selected to develop concepts of operations (ConOps) and system requirements for ICM on a congested corridor in their region. Three of these sites went on to conduct analysis, modeling, and simulation (AMS) of potential ICM response strategies on their corridor. In the final stage, two sites — the US-75 Corridor in Dallas, Texas, and the Interstate 15 (I-15) corridor in San Diego, California — were selected to design, deploy, and demonstrate their ICM systems.

The Dallas and San Diego demonstrations "went live" in the spring of 2013. Each demonstration has two phases: 1) design and deployment and 2) operations and maintenance. Both sites chose to develop a decision support system (DSS) as a technical tool to facilitate the application of institutional agreements and operational approaches that corridor stakeholders agreed to over a rigorous planning and design process.

In 2015, 13 other regional corridors were awarded grants to develop pre-implementation ICM foundations. Although the demonstration sites provide valuable insights into the necessary components of building an ICM system, they do not represent the only way to implement ICM. There is no "one-size-fits-all" approach to ICM, since the circumstances of a particular corridor will vary based on traffic patterns, agency dynamics, available assets, and a host of other factors.

Thus, the FHWA is committed to raising awareness for ICM through their knowledge and technology transfer program, which advances the implementation and integration of ICM with other concepts.

Purpose of the Primer

Who are smart city-philosophy stakeholders?

  • Transportation (streets, transit, ports, bicycle).
  • Water/wastewater utilities.
  • Energy (electric and gas) utilities.
  • City buildings/ facilities management.
  • Public services (health services, waste management).
  • Safety & security (fire and police).
  • Parking providers (public and private).
  • Private industry.
  • End users: Private citizens; freight delivery services; taxi / car share services.

Previously published ICM primers, including on traffic incident management (TIM) and transit operations, described how specific modal programs or activities could be integrated into ICM to provide additional operations and performance benefits to the ICM corridor. But because smart cities and ICM are so fundamentally similar in terms of their requirements and objectives, this primer will focus more on the opportunities for co-deployment synergies and how approaches and lessons learned from one can be translated to the other. For example, a community lacking a smart cities program but interested in developing one could start by implementing ICM on a particular corridor. The institutional relationships, operational processes, and technical methods developed as part of the successful ICM deployment could then be extended across different regions and across different public service areas as part of a broader smart cities program.

In many ways, a typical ICM corridor can be viewed as a "mini-city," albeit only in the transportation realm, with its mix of transportation-specific users, operators, and stakeholders, each with varying needs and objectives, and a unified need for cross-modal and cross-jurisdictional coordination in order to deliver the transportation services required by its users. Both ICM and the smart cities philosophies share the same challenges inherent in coordinating among various stakeholders. This primer examines the opportunities and challenges (institutional, technical, and operational) associated with integrating smart cities stakeholder groups and operations areas with ICM.

This primer also identifies many of the synergies (i.e., two-way benefits) of an integrated approach to ICM and smart cities. Such synergies include the exchange of information on planned and unplanned events (city wide vs. corridor-specific); coordinated response to events and incidents; better, data-driven decision making; and a broader measurement of system performance.

1 "The Smart/Connected City and Its Implications for Connected Transportation," FHWA-JPO-14-148 (Washington, DC: 2014). Available at: Return to note 1.

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