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21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Integrated Corridor Management and the Smart Cities Revolution: Leveraging Synergies

Integration: Institutional, Operational, and Technical

Institutional Integration

As mentioned earlier, almost all major urban areas are made up of a multitude of public agencies and governmental jurisdictions. The need for institutional integration is driven primarily by a set of common goals shared by many stakeholders.

Stakeholder Goals and Objectives

Each stakeholder group brings its own set of goals and mission objectives. Where it can be shown that many of these goals are shared across multiple stakeholders, there is a real opportunity to foster greater institutional integration. Some goals that are typically common across stakeholders in both ICM and smart cities include:

  • Sustainable, reliable, safe, and efficient transportation and mobility services that are integrated across all modes all providers and which are ubiquitous throughout the urban area.
  • Greater efficiency in providing citizen services, including new approaches to regulation, public safety initiatives, trash/snow removal, and health and human services.
  • Improved quality of life for area residents through decreased pollution and more options for reliable mobility and sustainable lifestyles.
  • Improved local/regional economic viability and competitiveness through improved transportation, citizen services, and quality of life.
  • Often, these shared goals are interconnected and complementary, building off of one another to advance local/regional operations.

Benefits of Institutional Integration

Diagram. Benefits of integrating smart cities and integrated corridor management overlap.
Figure 3. Diagram. Benefits of integrating smart cities and integrated corridor management.

Shared goals should generate benefits to mutual stakeholders. Ideally, this is a two-way street. Figure 3 shows the sets of benefits from both integrated corridor management (ICM) and smart cities and where they may overlap. The following describes some of the benefits that are typically associated with ICM deployments, but which also may be accrued by smart cities deployments:

  • Improved reliability and resiliency of the transportation system, which supports key smart cities goals of economic improvements, efficient city services delivery, and increased quality of life.
  • Enhanced data sharing and institutional cooperation (e.g., sharing of information on travel, weather, events), which supports smart cities goals of providing smarter city services.

Conversely, the following describes some of the benefits that are typically associated with smart cities deployments, but which also may be accrued by ICM deployments:

  • Improved coordination with emergency responders, city utilities, etc. result from integrating more strategies into the ICM "toolbox."
  • Clarified view of corridor or regional travel patterns provided by real-time data when that information is combined with additional data sources from related city services.
  • Expanded mobility alternatives to private cars enables better coordination of shared ride services with changing corridor demand.

Opportunities for Institutional Integration

The special case for this primer is that ICM can inform and serve as the genesis of wider smart cities deployments. One example is simply building upon the success of a single ICM deployment in a single corridor to more corridors within the same urban area. Soon, as more ICM corridors overlap, the travel shed of multiple corridors will include the majority of travelers within the metropolitan area. In this case, the ICM becomes an "integrated network management" program, supporting integrated mobility options throughout the smart cities environment.

The potential for mutual benefits really drives opportunities for institutional integration. Whenever two or more agencies can save money, improve operations, or increase efficiency, there is motivation to overcome the inherent challenges of integration. Shared data offers some of the greatest promise, because it touches all city and ICM systems. Access to data and information via a common platform enables all manner of efficiencies. Big data analytics provide the most benefit when applied across multiple agencies' datasets. Efficiency increases where there is a centralized location to get information. Data-driven decision making is more effective with a holistic view and shared situational awareness.

Another opportunity for ICM to help with the deployment of smart cities projects is via the use of a structured systems engineering process. Smart cities deployments are only now beginning to be able to prove the value of standards and interoperability. The systems architecture and systems engineering processes developed for transportation technology over the last 20 years, and more recently for ICM, provides a roadmap for smart cities to follow. The emerging connected and automated vehicle technology program is also developing complementary reference architecture and related standards. These will serve as powerful opportunities that can be applied to many smart cities elements.

Challenges to Institutional Integration

Institutional issues have long been raised as one of the main obstacles for many programs that require the active participation (planning, funding, operations, and maintenance) of any system across multiple jurisdictions. Some specific challenges include:

  • Lack of leadership or a champion with sufficient standing and authority in the organization to get things done.
  • Absence of a coordinated vision across departments about issues such as open data requirements and interoperability standards.
  • Laws that preclude some cities/agencies from legally entering into new contractual relationships (such as public private partnerships (P3)) or present difficulties in reforming procurement laws to attract innovation and new partnerships.
  • Regulations (e.g., many cities are struggling to address regulatory issues around ride hailing providers such as Uber and Lyft).
  • Reluctance among private sector entities to fully engage in public-sector-led activities; this is exacerbated by a lack of understanding within the public sector of private sector business models.
  • Silos in city organizational structures around disciplines such as lighting, parking, signals, and streets; new business models must be defined by the desired outcomes (e.g., safety, efficiency, livability), not just outputs.
  • Budgets for one initiative are often limited to the initial agency-specific scope of work, so even if a coordinated effort between agencies or departments could save the city significant money in the long run, the initiating agency often prefers to move forward in the context of its own limited scope.

Operational Integration

Integrated Corridor Management Initiatives that can Inform Smart Cities Initiatives

Existing ICM initiatives have the opportunity to inform and provide lessons learned for emerging smart cities initiatives.

For example, ICM parking programs can support smart parking programs, especially those at transit park-and-ride facilities, by indicating real-time availability of parking spaces via online and other publicly accessible communications. This guidance serves to reduce congestion from drivers searching for a space and to increase transit mode-share.

Electric vehicle charging and sharing programs, especially those at transit park-and-ride facilities, can utilize ICM advances in providing real-time availability and usage statistics via online and other publicly accessible communications. In the future, this technology can also assist smart grids with the decision support necessary to serve special events and locations/time periods with recurring high demand for energy consumption as electric vehicle use grows.

Bike share programs can take advantage of ICM experience in the management and communication of options for last-mile solutions for transit. ICM decision support tools that coordinate supply and demand along a corridor could be adapted to manage existing supply and demand issues among bike share stations, especially for those at transit park-and-ride facilities.

Smart cities initiatives can adopt or use ICM initiatives in coordinated traffic management as a foundation for more advanced smart traffic management systems. Smart traffic management systems can learn from ICM experience, enabling better special event traffic management, incident response, resilience to catastrophes, and delivery of city services (e.g., waste management, snow plowing, coordinated emergency response).

Challenges to Operational Integration

As is often the case in technology deployments, considerations for operations and maintenance (O&M) receive relatively little attention. One approach to dealing with this challenge is the adoption of AASHTO's Capability Maturity Model (CMM) for Transportation Systems Management and Operation (TSMO). The CMM approach can be extended beyond the transportation realm and into the management of many city systems, including utilities and facilities management.

Limited funding for public projects of all types is a constant challenge for cities. This also makes it difficult to compare the relative benefits and priorities of transportation and smart cities initiatives. As planners look at ICM and smart cities projects, how do they compare economic impacts and societal benefits that will come from a smart grid project versus those resulting from a smart mobility project, for example? This challenge is best dealt with by the regional MPO, whose responsibility (under most regional governance models) and core competency is to balance priorities among all metro area transportation agencies (and often other government agencies). The MPO is also well suited for dealing with other city agencies and their corresponding governance panels and commissions.

Limited familiarity with cross-disciplinary issues and opportunities among agencies is also a significant challenge. The silos mentioned above are rarely intentionally created, but are typically due to a simple lack of understanding of each agency's challenges and the potential benefits of closer coordination and integration.

Finally, as cities look more and more to the private sector to help share the expense of operating many city systems, there is the challenge of incentivizing private sector participation in public sector-led initiatives. Privatized operation of public facilities can be challenging, but with the right mix of performance-based incentives and minimum service level agreements, this approach can be valuable for both ICM and smart cities programs.

Technical Integration

Once ICM and/or smart cities stakeholders are engaged and operational integration opportunities are identified, the systems engineering process can begin. Starting with a concept of operations (ConOps), system requirements and architecture, the details of design and implementation will define the technical integration of ICM and smart cities elements.

Opportunities for Technical Integration

Early in the systems engineering process, high level questions, such as "what is my vision?" and "what outcome do I expect?" help define the ConOps. Each stakeholder should then ask "what can I do with what I have and what do I need from one or more other stakeholders?" This conversation will help define potential data sources, existing or future, that will be necessary for a successful system. There are many possible data sources within an ICM corridor that will be valuable to related smart cities systems, including travel demand patterns, incident history, special events, etc.

In addition to data needs, there are resource needs. For example, the location and capacity of emergency responders is typically a resource that is evaluated for ICM incident response planning. These resources are also available to support other incidents, such as severe weather events and other natural disasters. There is also opportunity to share other resources, such as communications, sensors, etc. that can support both smart cities and ICM functions. For a typical ICM deployment, the technical infrastructure (communications networks for center to field and center to center connections) and the physical resources (emergency responder vehicles, maintenance equipment, etc.) needed to detect and monitor incidents and coordinate responses, requires extensive coordination between all stakeholders. This ICM coordination helps to create a more mature capability model within all affected agencies. This capability is reusable for smart cities deployments and provides multiple opportunities for mutual benefits to all stakeholders.

Challenges to Technical Integration

One of the most significant challenges facing smart cities initiatives is the lack of standards, protocols, and architectures for systems that have not previously been required to integrate or share data. The well-established approach used to develop standards and architectures for intelligent transportation systems (ITS) and programs such as ICM can be used as a model for smart cities. There are many benefits for establishing such standards, making it possible to share information across all city systems. Other ways to address the challenge of disparate data formats include the use of open data standards, big data, and data analytics technologies. These open data approaches actually reduce the need for complex integration between agency systems. With a common platform that enables secure and ubiquitous data sharing, city agencies can subscribe to data they need—with the applications they already have—to support more efficient operations.

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