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

Practices for Improving the Coordination of Information Technology and Transportation Systems Management and Operations Resources: A Reference Document

Appendix B. Identified Practices

This appendix synthesizes the “lessons learned” through the project research and provides a range of current practices to deal with the common challenges described in chapter 5. The individual practices are categorized within functional groups based on common approaches. Within each group, there are general practices that can be beneficial for effective coordination as well as more specific tactics that address a narrower challenge. Where feasible, specific agency examples are provided for individual practices based on interviews and outreach efforts.

B.1. Collaboration

This section discusses practices that relate to collaboration, whether informal or formal. Examples of informal collaboration include increasing the understanding of IT and TSMO objectives, clarifying roles, and integrating staff. More formal efforts relate to modifying organization structures, implementing policies, and creating intergovernmental agreements (IGAs) or Memorandums of Understanding (MOU).

B.1.1. General Practices

Improve Communication

In many cases, issues arise because of a lack of mutual understanding between IT and TSMO groups because of little or poor communication. This occurs at all organizational levels, from senior leadership to frontline staff.

Senior managers can improve communication by encouraging IT and TSMO staff to directly engage on a routine basis by allotting time for regular group meetings. Such meetings would serve to improve mutual understanding of technologies, staff technical abilities, agency processes and work needs, scopes and deadlines and could be aligned with other annual or quarterly business process meetings.

Initial meetings could take the form of a facilitated workshop or partnering session to develop a common understanding of each group’s business goals, needs, and priorities. The meetings could evolve into forming an IT advisory group that could identify and recommend solutions to a wide variety of issues that can produce benefits from both a TSMO and IT perspectives.

As an example, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) holds regularly scheduled meetings with their counterparts within the Louisiana Office of Technology Services (OTS) to discuss issues and needs related to technology systems and networks.

Clarify Roles and Responsibilities

In large agencies, it is important for the roles and responsibilities of each group or unit to be clearly defined to avoid confusion. This is particularly important as it relates to shared facilities and functions, which can be the case between TSMO and IT.

In instances where there are shared systems or facilities, it is appropriate to have documentation that delineates ownership or responsibility between the groups. By creating clear lines of authority and clarifying roles and responsibilities, both within TSMO and IT groups and between groups, the agency can reduce confusion in obtaining service, justifications, and approvals.

In addition to clarifying the roles and responsibilities in general terms, an agency can maintain an active organization chart of key members with appropriate contact information. This data can be regularly updated and distributed to or accessible by all group members.

As an example, one TSMO group that participated in the agency outreach effort of this project works closely with their IT counterparts to understand the group’s skills and develop clear and specific roles. As a result, the TSMO staff focuses on the operational technology (OT) while the IT staff focuses on security, documentation, and business processes.

B.1.2. Specific Tactics

Integrate IT Staff within TSMO

Agency staff is typically assigned to separate and distinct departments that focus on their own missions and business processes. Creating opportunities for IT staff to work within the TSMO structure on current activities can enhance collaboration and improve their understanding of the TSMO mission as well as the end-user experience of data and software platforms.

These opportunities can range from permanent assignments to temporary rotations to routine (e.g., weekly or monthly) visits and may include onsite IT support tasks or observing TSMO operations. A very important and useful task that IT staff can perform collaboratively with TSMO staff is to analyze cybersecurity risks and recommend approaches to eliminate or mitigate vulnerabilities.

If staffing resources preclude recurring efforts, agencies can target stand-alone efforts or projects to integrate staff. This additional exposure can improve comprehension between the staffs during future project development, service requests, or other activities.

While agency staff members are typically assigned to separate and distinct departments, it is important to integrate staff to enhance collaboration. Creating opportunities for IT staff members to work within the TSMO structure on current activities can improve their understanding of the mission as well as the end-user experience of data and software platforms.

These opportunities can be organized in various ways from permanent assignments, temporary rotations, or routine (e.g., weekly or monthly) visits, and may include onsite IT support tasks or observing TSMO operations. An IT advisory group can help integrate IT staff within a TSMO organization. A very important and useful task that IT staff can perform collaboratively with TSMO staff is to analyze cybersecurity risks and recommend approaches to eliminate or mitigate vulnerabilities. If staffing resources preclude recurring efforts, agencies can target stand-alone efforts or projects to integrate staff members. This additional exposure can improve comprehension between the staff during future project development, service requests, or other activities.

As an example, the research identified one agency that invited their IT group to the TSMO Capability Maturity Model (CMM) exercises to facilitate a wider discussion and understanding of the whole process.

Modify Organizational Structure

Changes to organizational structures can be used by agencies to formalize relationships between TSMO and IT groups. Potential modifications to organizational structure to improve relations between IT and TSMO staffs can include establishing specific organizational units with responsibility to improve collaboration and coordination between IT staff and TSMO staff. The size of such groups can range in size from one person from each discipline to small groups, depending on the relationship, and can vary in location on the organization chart. The groups can either be in the IT or the TSMO organizational structure. The important aspect is that the mission of the group is to facilitate the interaction between IT and TSMO staffs.

In instances where recurring support for a specific TSMO group can be assigned to a single IT position or group, creating a relational link can clarify the role and assignment while keeping the IT resource within the IT structure. In instances where the support is more direct and consistent, agencies may elect to transfer the IT position to the TSMO organizational structure with oversight either remaining in IT or transferring to TSMO. Another option to increase collaboration between the groups when there may not be clear relationships at the staff level is to assign coordinators or liaisons who have the responsibility to coordinate the groups.

As an example, one TSMO group that participated in the agency outreach effort of this project had assigned a dedicated IT staff person to TSMO to focus on the communications network and data management. This person was embedded in the DOT rather than IT office to improve the working relationship.

Implement Coordination Policies

To increase interaction between the TSMO and IT groups, agencies can develop internal policies and procedures that require mandatory “touch points” or coordination efforts through either existing or new processes. These efforts can relate to planning or scoping, project delivery, performance measures, security assessment and mitigation, or other steps that may involve both groups or would benefit from the input of both groups.

During TSMO planning efforts, reviews by IT staff or an IT advisory group can help identify technical issues or opportunities that may become significant in subsequent stages of development. If TSMO staff involvement is formalized aspect in the IT development process, this can improve the functionality and usability..

Develop Formal Agreement

When TSMO and associated IT activities occur across agency boundaries or organizations, it is important to document the specific intent and scope of the effort and the roles and responsibilities of each member or owner. An MOU or an intergovernmental agreement can serve as a formal contract documenting these factors. As legal documents, the creation of these contracts typically involves review and approval by agency attorneys.

Even across internal agency divisions or offices, formal agreements may be important to have in writing. Such formal agreements may take the form of relatively simple memos or even emails or may be formalized in service-level agreements.

By establishing a formal agreement, agencies can clearly articulate the needs of the project and hold each party accountable. The range in topics covered by the agreement could be broad. Examples include:

  • Formal processes and procedures for selecting procurement mechanisms.
  • Specifying the points in the project development process where IT staff are included.
  • Agreement on the specific roles and responsibilities for staff in each organization.
  • Comment timeframe requirements for reviewing documents, by document type.

The formal agreement will ultimately serve as a reference for a larger audience and help maintain consistency through staffing changes.

B.2. Staffing

This section discusses practices that relate to staffing—from identifying needs to recruiting and outsourcing. Chapter 3 includes some specific examples of staffing practices that have been implemented. The discussion below includes some of these practices, generally at a summary level of detail.

B.2.1. General Practices

Establish Staffing Needs

Introducing TSMO initiatives, particularly those with ongoing operations, can include an assessment of staffing requirements not only within the TSMO group but in external support groups as well.

To facilitate IT coordination, any technology-based TSMO effort can detail the IT resources required to develop, operate, and maintain TSMO related IT functions or systems. This effort can be based on historical efforts (if available) or projected needs and can include required staff skillsets in addition to number of staff. In response, IT organizational units can develop a staffing plan to ensure resources or a plan to obtain the skillsets both in the short-term and the long-term are available.

As systems become operational or get retired, staffing resources will change. Staffing coordination between IT and TSMO groups can be integrated into recurring business planning efforts to provide continuity.

Provide Staff Training

An agency can provide training opportunities for TSMO and IT staffs to build adequate internal resources and maintain consistency in the agency. The use of training not only increases the functional technical capability of staff members but can also provide promotional opportunities and indirectly increase retention through personal growth.

Basic levels of training can provide a baseline understanding of TSMO to both TSMO and IT staffs. Training can be an important way to provide awareness of important aspects of either TSMO or IT work and conditions (for example, the unique aspects of safety and security regarding roadside field equipment and the potential for equipment damage). This level of training can be provided through instructional materials such as webinars or online material. The National Operations Center of Excellence (NOCoE) has a helpful section on workforce development that includes a TSMO training database (Workforce Training Database). The database allows a user to search for the type(s) of training of interest and see what NOCoE has identified. The layout of the search function for the database is shown in figure 3.

Screenshot asking for a keyword search or an advanced search (organization, category, has fees, delivery method).

Figure 3. Screenshot. National Operations Center of Excellence workforce training database search page.
(Source: National Operations Center of Excellence.)

The database includes training from associations, such as the Institute of Transportation Engineers, universities, and Government organizations, such as the National Highway Institute. More advanced and specialized TSMO functions are typically unique to the organization and may call for tailored training. Preferably, these training efforts can be developed in-house and delivered with hands-on or observational elements to familiarize staff with the specific applications and processes.

As part of this training effort, agencies can formalize the necessary KSA needs for TSMO and IT staff and link these requirements to hiring and promotional opportunities. The allowance of automatic promotional steps based on completed training can further incentivize staff.

As an example, the TSMO group for the Flordia Department of Transportation (FDOT) developed specialized on-the-job training to respond to hiring constraints that prevented the group from hiring network specialists. The training was developed to provide transportation management centers (TMC) staff with the fundamental knowledge to work with IT networking.

B.2.2. Specific Tactics

Mix TSMO Technical and IT Staffs

The staffing of TSMO and IT, while separate organizationally, can be integrated to deliver the required agency resources. Integrating TSMO and IT can help increase staff availability, staff knowledge, and coordination.

As TSMO and IT workloads fluctuate in magnitude and duration, the strategic borrowing of resources between the groups can help augment staffing and provide continued delivery of services. In critical situations such as equipment failures or after-hours efforts, this can result in quicker response times and less downtime.

This type of staff sharing relies on deliberate cross-training and coordination to be successful. To be effective, staff must be knowledgeable in the technical and operational aspects of each group and be familiar with the work environment. And while the specific need can be identified through a formal process to keep management apprised, some allowance of flexibility can be maintained to facilitate smaller coordination efforts.

Outsource Services

Outsourcing services, such as IT staffing, can provide agencies with the flexibility to properly staff for typical workloads while still obtaining resources when needed for specific skills, projects, or periods. Outsourced, external services can be provided in several ways, including defined project assignment or delivery, supplemental in-house staff, or as-needed on-call staffing. Outsourced services can be provided in different locations, onsite or remote. Outsourcing can be particularly attractive and effective for specialized skills, such as communication network management and cybersecurity assessment and mitigation. The procurement and contract managing of outsourced services itself involves special management skills and require advance planning.

Obtaining outsourced services involves upfront planning both in terms of procurement and financing. Agencies have reported success by identifying potential staff needs, developing requirements, and soliciting qualified sources as early as possible so that services can be obtained when needed. In addition, the funding amount of the outsourced services and the source of the funding can be identified as part of annual programming of operational or project budgets.

As an example, one TSMO group that participated in the agency outreach effort of this project outsources services in multiple ways to supplement their own staff. The group obtains support services from the technology vendors that have provided equipment through procurement contracts as well as from engineering firms that are under a retainer agreement.

Identify Recruiting Opportunities

Recruitment for TSMO- and IT-related positions in the current environment involves agencies developing new techniques that widen the potential candidate pool. Recruiting can target specific audiences that may not want to work for private industry.

Public agencies can identify unique benefits and values that are available in the public sector and can attract the right long-term candidate. These can include personal benefits (such as stability, defined career paths, technical exposure, fringe benefits) or public service (such as improving safety or congestion).

Public agencies can also highlight that TSMO, and related IT positions, may not exist in other private settings. TSMO is unique in the public sector both in scope and scale, and private companies may not afford the opportunity to work on the planning, development, operations, and maintenance of the various systems.

If experienced TSMO and IT candidates are difficult to attract, establishing apprenticeship-like programs can allow agencies to hire less experienced staff and develop them from within the agency.

B.3. Planning/Programming

This section discusses practices related to planning and programming of TSMO efforts that require IT support. Practices include early coordination of plans, developing long-range needs, and allocating or maintaining adequate budgets.

B.3.1. General Practices

Allocate Budgets and Resources Based on Historical Data

To ensure IT-TSMO budget and resource needs are sufficiently and accurately met, budget requests can be based on historical cost data. Severely underestimating and overestimating budget needs both lead to eroded confidence if done repeatedly.

Separating costs by function or area can be useful in applying for different budget sources and can assist in managing the budgets during the fiscal year. For example, one funding source may support installing new devices and another may support maintaining equipment and yet another may support staffing resources. Several transportations agencies have been able to take advantage of this type of funding.

There may also be opportunities to fund IT devices (such as servers and network switches) and services used for TSMO with IT funding. When the IT group maintains and operates the communication networks used for TSMO devices, IT funds may be used for procuring new devices, but are more often able to be used for replacing devices as they approach the end of their effective lifecycle.

Groups responsible for TSMO and IT services can accurately identify needed resources and allocate the appropriate budgets on an annual basis. Resources, both financial and other, are typically scarce if not obtained during the formal business processes.

Developing budgets using strong planning processes and historical cost data can result in more accurate projections. Underestimating and overestimating budgets can both lead to difficult situations further into fiscal years for different reasons with both eroding confidence if repeated often.

Separating costs by function or area can assist agencies in applying for different funding sources applicable to each and can assist in managing the budgets during the fiscal year. These divisions can be customized to each agency but may include the separation between installation (new) and maintenance, or equipment and staffing.

Establish and Maintain Systems to Manage TSMO and IT Devices and Assets

A system that tracks and manages TSMO and related IT devices and systems will assist an agency with planning and programming by tracking and evaluating the performance of existing equipment. Such systems can provide information on the device type, brand and model, its location, purchase and installation date, purchase price and expected life, maintenance history and repair log. Many agencies include device and system tracking in their TSMO program plans.

A system that tracks and manages devices and systems—with enough time and data points—can provide better input into equipment replacement cycles, annual maintenance and replacement costs, staffing needs, and general planning efforts. Managing TSMO devices and systems in this way can assist an agency with planning and programming through tracking and evaluating existing equipment. Equipment damage is also tracked to help determine if specific locations are more susceptible to damage than others. Such information can help in the future by looking for mitigation as stand-alone actions or part of other capital projects. These systems can also be important to identify specific device replacement when damage does occur. Although developing such a system is a one-time event, the maintenance and active use of the system is critical to keep accurate records.

A system that tracks and manages devices can range from simple spreadsheets to complex software systems, depending on the appropriate level of detail. Regardless of platform, the data could include details on type of equipment, manufacturer, location, condition, last date serviced, replacement cost, and other information.

B.3.2. Specific Tactics

Coordinate TSMO and Information Technology Strategic Plans

Agencies can improve integration between TSMO and IT groups by coordinating their respective TSMO and IT Strategic Plans. Though often separate, these plans can include overlapping functions and efforts to ensure appropriate planning and programming.

Strategic plans identify high-level goals and objectives, which then form the basis for annual programming and more specific planning efforts. Because many TSMO functions require IT support and resources, including TSMO priorities in the IT strategic planning effort can align initiatives early in the process and can help identify common priorities.

Strategic plans—often created every three to five years—are not typically detailed at the project level, and therefore only set a general framework for overall direction. While early coordination of strategic plans can help increase efficiencies in the overall planning of projects and services, agencies can combine this effort with more granular programming-level coordination to better align resources.

As an example, the Connecticut DOT develops its five-year IT Plan based on internal agency customer needs. The plan begins by defining technology needs and priorities of each group (TSMO included) and then aligns business goals and initiatives with technology solutions.

Develop Long-Range TSMO and IT Framework

IT-TSMO needs can be identified and formally documented in a long-range IT-TSMO framework to provide both groups a guide for future needs. This planning effort can include all existing and projected IT needs for equipment, service, and maintenance. Some examples of equipment, services, and maintenance to consider are presented in table 10.

Table 10. Examples of information technology needs for equipment, service, and maintenance.
Equipment Services Maintenance
Network switches Cybersecurity audits Network maintenance
Modems Wireless communication IT device maintenance
Servers Software development Software maintenance
Monitors Data management Security updates

(Source: FHWA.)

The long-range IT needs can be developed within existing TSMO strategic programming efforts or as a stand-alone effort. The development of such a document can include input from technical TSMO and IT staffs familiar with existing efforts as well as TSMO and IT leadership responsible for future efforts.

This framework can include known equipment and software needs (new or replacement), IT services or functions, and any planned or recurring maintenance efforts. Input within the framework can then be used to determine adequate internal staffing as well as funding to cover continuous operations.

Develop IT Policies that Support TSMO

IT policies that are developed for a wide range of efforts (possibly established at an enterprise-level) may not support TSMO efforts and may call for modification or new rules to better respond to the unique operational environment. It is important to note that such policy changes likely require the input and approval from TSMO, IT, risk management, legal, and other teams prior to being implemented. Agencies should consider the administrative and legal frameworks in which they operate when developing or modifying policy or regulatory approaches to support TSMO efforts.

Internal policies that can directly improve support to TSMO are those that focus on staff resources. Allowing additional staff overtime and outsourcing services can both increase the available manpower and decrease response time to cover typical 24/7 operations, as well as emergencies.

Internal policies that can improve TSMO functionality are those that focus on hardware and software systems. From a hardware perspective, allowing equipment purchases directly from a pre-approved list can reduce approval wait times. For software, allowing remote access for internal and external partners can allow quicker responses and increased sharing of information. Increasing administrative rights for TSMO staff can allow minor software updates and reduce the direct burden on IT staff.

Finally, policies can address specific practices. For example, an agency could implement a policy to require a risk management plan in the development of all projects. The risk registry can be passed on to operations staff after the project is implemented, ensuring that the staff tracks risks and identifies mitigations throughout the lifecycle.

B.4. Program Delivery

This section discusses practices that relate to program delivery and incorporating IT in the project development cycle. The goal of these practices relates to ensuring active IT involvement with project planning, technical reviews, and procurement. Each of the practices listed below represent a separate description and discussion.

B.4.1. General Practices

Involve IT Personnel in Project Delivery Teams

Many agencies have created TSMO project delivery team to guide the development of projects and provide technical reviews at various stages. Project delivery teams also serve to speed or streamline the project delivery process because many of the primary groups who have a say in the project are represented on the team.

TSMO project delivery teams have comprised a wide range of subject matter experts, typically covering traffic operations, traffic safety, ITS, and traffic incident management and others. However, because IT has been traditionally regarded as an agency service organization unit rather than integral to project delivery, IT staff has not always been included on TSMO project delivery teams.

Involvement of IT staff can help ensure that State or agency policies relating to hardware, networking, and data management are followed. It will also serve to build and cement relationships between IT and TSMO staffs based by providing an opportunity to learn more about each other’s needs and work processes.

Develop Lifecycle Cost Model

Projects involving technology or continued operations can include a typical lifecycle cost model to ensure adequate resources after the initial implementation. TSMO projects typically call for long-term operations staffing, equipment costs, and maintenance activities that need to be accounted for and programmed. Operations staffing include transportation management services staff, data analysts, TSMO or ITS engineers, and any other positions that directly support operations. Equipment costs include field devices (such as cameras and driver monitoring systems), network devices (such as switches and routers), and TMC or office equipment (such as servers, operator workstations, and video monitors or walls).

Evaluating lifecycle costs for future financial and staffing requirements often are prepared as early as possible in the project development timeline. Input from TSMO and IT groups can be based on historical data for staffing effort, equipment costs, maintenance cycles, and effective lifespan of hardware and software. Localized data can provide more accurate estimates particularly if resources are not accessible.

Individual project lifecycle costs are important inputs to TSMO and IT budgeting efforts. Future project resources and costs can be incorporated into annual operating costs for the respective owner and be coordinated with any comprehensive system maintenance efforts.

As an example, one TSMO group that participated in the agency outreach effort of this project incorporated device lifecycles in their business planning efforts. With input from their IT counterparts, replacement timeframes and associated costs were included in the budgeting process.

B.4.2. Specific Tactics

Incorporate IT Staff in Systems Engineering Process

TSMO projects requiring a systems engineering approach in accordance with 23 CFR 940.11 can include IT partners early and throughout the process to reduce risk and speed the process. The systems engineering approach—developed to provide multiple checkpoints during project development—can ensure interdisciplinary coordination when properly utilized.

The systems engineering approach breaks down the project delivery flow into a series of steps from planning, development, and implementation with each step referencing back to a prior step to ensure continuity. Including IT partners early in the process can help establish system requirements that will be carried through to subsequent steps.

While the systems engineering process does involve the design of hardware and software systems, it also involves systems integration, testing, and verification, which rely heavily on IT staff. IT partners also add value to the process through expertise in operations, maintenance, and eventual equipment upgrades, replacements, or retirement.

Establish TSMO “Approved Product List”

The development of an approved products list that complies with the jurisdiction’s procurement laws and regulations for recurring IT purchases can reduce the procurement timeframe for common IT-TSMO equipment. Many products utilized by TSMO and IT are used repetitively either in new installations or replacement activities. These products can be evaluated and pre-approved prior to their use to reduce acquisition time. Many IT offices have contracts with vendors for specific products and these contracts serve much the same function as approved product lists. However, if specific IT-related products do not fall under an IT procurement contract, working with IT staff to develop an approved products list can be very helpful.

In many agencies, creating an approved product list may implicate procurement rules and include specific guidelines for the process to maintain transparency. To place a product on the approved list, agencies can identify a need and develop standard specifications and criteria against which the product will be evaluated. Vendors would submit applications for consideration along with appropriate evaluations and testing to ensure compliance. Agencies should consider the administrative and legal frameworks in which they operate when developing or modifying policies and procedures to support TSMO efforts.

Prequalifying products can help reduce delivery time by eliminating or reducing the time required for research, evaluation, and approval. This can be particularly beneficial for TSMO or IT products that have longer lead times or projects with shorter schedules.

Adjust Procurement Process for Transportation Systems Management and Operations

Procurement rules and processes are varied, and agencies can identify the best approach for TSMO and IT efforts, given the required type of equipment, service, or timeframe. Selecting the most appropriate method for TSMO and IT may be different than methods for other transportation activities.

TSMO and IT efforts that use external services or products on a continual basis or during emergencies can be supported through open-ended or annual procurements that allow flexible use of contracted staff. An example is the use of on-call or staff extension contracts. FDOT District 6 utilizes both contracting mechanisms. TMC operations are contracted as a staff extension contract that details the staff required. FDOT can then assign activities as needed. Through their on-call contracts, they can issue task orders to the contractor for specific tasks, as well. Under both mechanisms, FDOT District 6 can assign some IT-related activities to contractor staff. This approach reduces the time required for solicitation and approval of contracts for specific tasks.

For smaller purchases, procurement rules may allow direct purchases under a certain dollar amount. This method can facilitate acquiring smaller IT products that may be needed for maintenance or replacement.

For complex technology projects, specific project-level procurement plans may be developed with procurement personnel. In some arrangements, hardware and software platforms may require long-term commitments or proprietary products in the future.

As an example, the Pennsylvania Turnpike has the flexibility to use the most appropriate contracting approach available. The agency can utilize Statewide contracts or develop their own procurement.

Establish TSMO and IT Project Review

Agencies can require that all projects involving technology be reviewed and approved by TSMO and IT staff. In most cases, the operations and maintenance of these systems will be performed by TSMO or IT; therefore, the project development process could benefit from a formal review by applicable staff.

For complex technology projects, a systems engineering approach can be beneficial and could include reviews by TSMO and IT participants. For smaller projects, an abbreviated review may be appropriate but may still comprise the same participants. These processes can include documented approvals by those staff assigned review authority within their respective groups or units. In any case, all ITS projects using Federal funds must undergo a systems engineering analysis, as required by 23 CFR 940.11, although the complexity of the analysis will depend on the scope and complexity of the project.

To maintain consistency and ensure completeness, a defined step-by-step review process or checklist may be developed to guide the reviews. An example of a TSMO project development checklist can be found in the Texas DOT Austin District TSMO Program Plan. Although this checklist does not specifically show touchpoints with IT staff, it does include the full project development process, and specific touchpoints with IT staff could be easily identified. For example, under preparing a cost estimate, if IT equipment is included in the project, consulting IT staff at this point would be appropriate.

If separate checklists are developed for the TSMO and IT groups, the checklists can be coordinated so each group is aware of the other and critical topics are not omitted.

B.5. Equipment/Systems

This section discusses practices that relate to technical equipment and systems required to support TSMO functions. The practices identified are wide ranging, from establishing security systems and improving communication infrastructure to data sharing and data management.

B.5.1. General Practices

Maintain an ITS Architecture

An up-to-date ITS architecture can be maintained to facilitate the development and management of technology infrastructure. (According to 23 CFR 940.9, regions are required to develop and maintain regional ITS architectures.) In addition to TSMO staff, the involvement of IT staff in ITS architecture activities can increase mutual understanding of the system requirements, data needs, communication, and security.

ITS architectures provide a high-level framework that illustrates how existing and planned ITS elements interconnect and interface to exchange information and collectively deliver transportation services and functions. The development of the ITS architecture must include all agencies that have a role in the various systems to ensure consensus among the owners and users. Within each agency, IT staff involved in data management and communication infrastructure may be included in the ITS architecture mapping efforts.

The goal of the final ITS architecture is to be easily understood by all stakeholders and readily accessible. Periodic reviews and updates may be needed to keep the architecture relevant with new services and emerging technologies.

As an example, one TSMO group that participated in the agency outreach effort of this project has developed an ITS architecture with the help of their IT group. The TSMO group invited their IT senior managers to attend the statewide ITS architecture stakeholder workshop and the TSMO and connected and autonomous vehicle strategic planning workshops to actively participate in developing and documenting the ITS architecture.

Improve Data Communications Infrastructure

Data communications infrastructure can be improved to provide adequate data bandwidth and infrastructure redundancy. Because much of the functionality of technology systems relies on data transmission, the health of the data communications infrastructure is critical to reliable operations.

Newer technology systems provide increased surveillance, data, and analysis but generate and use significantly more data both in terms of volume and velocity. The underlying communications infrastructure can be evaluated against the potential data needs and strengthened to provide adequate transmission capacity. In addition to capacity, the network can provide redundancy to ensure system reliability. Redundancy can be provided through additional or alternate paths to protect against temporary failures caused by breakage, power issues, network congestion, or equipment failure.

The network evaluation and improvement can extend beyond a single agency. Options for infrastructure sharing with adjacent agencies, public-private partnerships, and lease lines can improve network reliability at a reduced or shared cost. For example, agencies in Maricopa County, Arizona, developed a regional fiber-optic network to facilitate integrating ITS across the entire Phoenix metropolitan area.

B.5.2. Specific Tactics

Develop an Integrated Security System with IT

Agency TSMO groups can develop an information security system for all technology systems and integrate the system with IT resources. The information security system can be part of an overall risk management program and include both physical and electronic risks to the TSMO functions.

Creating a security system can include a risk assessment prepared with IT staff that identifies potential threats and vulnerabilities, their associated probability, and potential impact. For each vulnerability, TSMO and IT staff can identify whether the risk can be avoided, accepted, or mitigated. All avoidance and mitigation measures can be formalized through security protocols, documentation, and training.

An integrated security system may require modification from traditional or enterprise IT security requirements. TSMO and IT staff can evaluate the implications of the various system configurations and determine the impact to functionality, security, staffing, and convenience.

Establish Necessary Decision Support Systems

Including decision support systems (DSS) within TSMO functions can improve response timeliness, accuracy, and consistency. The decision support systems provide analytical tools that utilize available data to reach an operational decision that supports the TSMO objectives.

DSS can have a wide range of functionality from automated real-time systems to off-line manual systems. DSS methodology follows a decision tree based on available data and evaluation criteria. Including IT resources during the development of DSS can increase data mining, analysis, visualization, and automation. Automating any processes may require increased IT support due to software requirements.

While not all TSMO functions use a DSS, they can be developed for many operational functions, including ramp metering, dynamic message signs, variable speed limits, or other dynamic features. The DSS provide staff with direct guidance while ensuring consistent application.

Developing DSS for TSMO-IT features or operations can also assist in clarifying other key system elements such as data management and security.

Define and Coordinate Data Sharing and Access Agreements

TSMO functions that include outside partners, either for data or access, can formalize the arrangements though written agreements.

Technology systems often include data sharing across platforms to increase the variety and veracity of the data available. Data may be obtained from external sources such as partner agencies or third-party vendors, exported to these parties, or provided through a mutual exchange of data. This data may supplement existing data to increase the accuracy or may fill a data gap. Associated data-sharing agreements between the parties can clarify the data source, data type or format, delivery method, and appropriate security and sharing restrictions.

Shared access within a technology platform can increase the functionality of the system by allowing wider use, more timely operation, or other factors. External agencies may access a platform to observe operations, control the system, extract data, or other purposes. Shared access can be mutually agreed to and associated access agreements between the parties can clarify access rights, restrictions, and security protocols.

As an example, Maricopa County, Arizona, operates a shared data-archive network with their neighboring agencies. The shared communication network, computer servers, and data management and archiving is managed jointly and documented through formal agreements (AZTech Regional Archive Data Server Agreement referenced in the Arizona Statewide ITS Architecture Appendix O Agreements).

Create a Data Governance and Management Plan

Technology systems generate a significant amount of data that may create a challenge for agencies to manage and control. Accordingly, agencies can develop a data governance and management plan to ensure appropriate data access, ownership, integrity, quality, and control. According to DAMA International, “data governance is the exercise of authority and control (planning, monitoring, and enforcement) over the management of data assets.” Data governance includes methods, technologies, and behaviors around the proper management of data to address the following: security and privacy, integrity, usability, integration, compliance, availability, roles and responsibilities, and overall management of the internal and external data flows within an organization. A data management plan also identifies how data is collected, organized, stored, and archived. Formally documenting the data management efforts can help TSMO and IT staffs operate more efficiently and assist during staff turnover. Because much of this requires database management, it is important that IT resources are involved early in the process to determine appropriate data formats, storage location, and security protocol.

A comprehensive data management plan can include all data sources—internal and external. Any system requirements relative to data file types, naming conventions, and data formats can be identified and evaluated for consistency. The plan can include procedures on data processing and analysis with a focus on maintaining version control and preserving raw data separate from processed data.

Policies and procedures can be developed on data storage—frequency, location—based on system requirements and agency archiving policies. IT staff can be involved in evaluating onsite or off-site data storage because the location can affect resource needs (hardware, staff, fees), access, and security. Data storage, regardless of location, can incorporate steps for quality control and security.

As an example, the research identified one agency that developed an advanced data management and warehousing platform that brings together data from multiple sources into a single platform for improved archiving and evaluation.