Focus Area
ITS Technologies
Submitting On Behalf Of
Critical - High Priority
$500,000 - 749,000
Under 1 year
Type of Research
Full Research Project
Date Posted
Jun 24, 2021
Not Funded

Research Description

The ability to virtually manage and operate traffic management system (TMSs) is no longer a luxury, it needs to be a capability of the system, and core capacity of an agency’s operations program. It has become a necessity for agencies to work towards developing and sustaining the capabilities and having the resources necessary to remotely manage and operate their own, or another agencies TMS. Agencies continue to explore what organizational policies, procedures, capacity, resources, and capabilities may be needed when they determine it is in their interest to virtually manage and operate their TMS to support different types of planned and unplanned events.

Research is needed to assess what issues and analyses should be considered when assessing the current capabilities, needs, requirements, and possible improvements that may be needed to enable legacy or the next generation of an agencies TMS to be managed and operated virtually or remotely. This problem statement will also address agency policies, procedures, processes, staffing (e.g., human resource issues), tools (e.g., laptops), capabilities (e.g., internet access, electronic access to data, secure access to operating systems), and practices with planning, preparing, testing, transitioning, and evaluating the virtual or remote management and operation of the TMS for a range of different types of special events. This problem statement will develop two technical resources. The first resource will assist agencies with planning and developing their TMSs to enable virtual operation, and a second resource to assist with the planning and supporting the remote operation of TMSs.

Agencies are looking to develop and adopt policies, operational procedures, review and change human resource requirements, identify the changes needed to allow TMSs to be managed and operated virtually, and ensure operations centers can be managed and operated remotely. They are also looking for assistance with determining what planning, development, and training may be needed to successfully position or prepare TMSs with the capabilities and resources needed to transition the operation of a TMS involving highly technical traffic management centers to a virtual operating environment with minimal disruption to service. Agencies also need information on the necessary security measures to consider, develop, test, implement, and verify needed capabilities (e.g., remote access to server or cloud, remote access to user interface to operating system, secure connection (e.g., software, computer) for remote access into operating system).

The TMC Pooled Fund Study (TMC PFS) developed the Virtual TMC technical report summarizing current practices with agencies having and using the capability to remotely manage and operate their TMSs. Technical resources (e.g., training, technical resource documents, outreach material, and case studies) have also been developed to support agencies planning, preparing, and assessing how agencies may manage travel associated with different types of planned special events. However, technical resources have not been developed to support agencies assessing their capabilities (e.g., policies, procedures, human resource issues), operational resources, (e.g., policies, procedures, protocol, tools), and the TMS capabilities (e.g., user interface, access to data subsystem, security) to allow agencies TMSs to be virtually or remotely managed and operated. Hence, technical resources are needed to support agencies assessing, evaluating, addressing (e.g., planning), and developing the capabilities to enable virtual operation of their TMS.

A TMS and its operations center (TMC) collect, monitor, verify, and respond to current and projected operating conditions. TMSs can be managed and operated from a center, virtually from a remote location, or via other operations centers, TMSs or systems. The Internet, enhanced telecommunication capabilities, improved computing, remote storage, the ability to access data remotely, and advanced software technologies have allowed agencies the capability to remotely manage and operate systems from different, or multiple locations.

The successful management of travel associated with planned (e.g., concerts, festivals) and unplanned (e.g., natural disaster, weather emergency) special events also rely on the functions, services and capabilities provided by TMSs. For example, TMSs allow agencies to share information with other systems, event specific operators or staff, other public agencies, and stakeholders who support or provide services to the event or the traveling public. Many large events or special event sites which support events throughout the year, have command centers which have varying levels of ability to share information and support the needs of the stakeholders supporting an event site.

Some of these events may involve agency staff locate at an event command center and operate the TMS remotely (e.g., from an emergency operations center). Other events may result in the desire for agency staff to manage and operate the TMS remotely for varying amounts of time, based on the special and temporal implications of events (e.g., adverse weather, natural disaster, pandemic). Preparing for these events may include considering topics such as the appropriate policies, procedures, protocol, resources (e.g., laptops, firewalls), training, and preparation steps.

Additional Supporting Information

RESEARCH OBJECTIVES. This project proposes to develop 2 technical resources. The 1st will assist agencies with planning and developing their TMSs to enable virtual operation, and a 2nd to assist with the planning and supporting the remote operation of TMSs. The research objectives are to develop resources to support different processes and activities agencies may consider with: 1) assessing and identifying capabilities of TMSs to aid virtual operation now and what needs and requirements should be considered and integrated into the future enhancements or the next generation of the agencies TMS, and 2) planning, preparing, equipping, testing, and verifying agencies have the policies, procedures, controls, resources, and are prepared to transition to virtual operation for any range of recurring or non-recurring events.

The first report will compile and review available resources, offer insights, and synthesize current practices for agencies to consider in the planning, design and development of projects to improve their TMSs to enable virtual operations. It will also assess and identify key issues to consider, capabilities, needs, requirements, technologies, and other issues to integrate the virtual or remote operation of a TMS into the planning or design of a new or improved legacy system. This information will support agencies to assess the current capabilities of legacy TMSs, identifying possible improvements needed to enable or meet agencies needs for operating virtually or remotely, assessing the capabilities and requirements for the next generation of their TMS.

The second report will explore the range of issues agencies may consider to ensure they have the authority, policies, procedures, capability, capacity, and resources to ensure remote operation of their TMS. This project will also explore the initiatives, planning, projects, testing, and agencies training to support establishing, using, and demonstrating the use of these resources to enable and sustain their agencies ability to virtually managing and operate their TMS.

Investigation Methods: This project will review literature to identify what agencies currently consider in support of using their TMSs to manage and operate their TMSs virtually. Agencies that have implemented these capabilities will be interviewed in support of identifying the policy, procedural, resources, tools, technologies, and other issues to consider with preparing for and using these remote capabilities. The review will identify the processes, factors, analysis, and other issues to consider when establishing parameters for deciding when to implement the virtual or remote operation of a TMS and what resources may be needed to support the range of events.

This project will synthesize practices to identify the types of planned and unplanned events agencies use to implement the use of the remote operation of TMSs; examples of the processes and plans to consider developing to prepare for the remote TMS operation with these different events; potential issues to review, assess, and identify for changes to enable the remote management and operation of the TMS from different locations; training, resources, and testing to enable different types of staff to remotely access, manage, operate, or perform specific functions or actions remotely; and security, access, and IT requirements.

Submitted By
Jon Obenberger



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