Establish a well defined process for monitoring and maintenance before expanding the base of field equipment.

Experience from iFlorida Model Deployment

Florida,United States

Background (Show)

Lesson Learned

With iFlorida Model Deployment, there was a significant increase in the number, types, and geographic distribution of field equipment that FDOT District 5 (D5) was required to maintain. In January 2004, D5 was maintaining about 240 traffic monitoring stations. In 2007, this had increased to about 650 stations. This rapid increase in maintenance responsibility resulted in some problems with maintaining the equipment. One of the maintenance problems FDOT faced was that the contracts for deploying the field devices did not include requirements related to how the equipment would be monitored. This meant that FDOT had to rely on manual methods for monitoring whether field devices were operational, which placed a higher demand on staff and contractor time. FDOT identified a number of lessons learned that might benefit other organizations planning on a significant expansion of their traffic monitoring field equipment:
  • Establish a well-defined process for monitoring and maintaining field equipment before beginning a significant expansion. Consider streamlining the existing monitoring and maintenance process before expanding the base of field equipment. A simple system that works well for a small amount of deployed equipment may be less effective as the amount of deployed equipment increases.
  • Ensure that the requirements for new field equipment include steps to integrate the equipment into the monitoring and maintenance process.
    • These requirements should include tools and/or procedures for monitoring the equipment to identify failures that occur. In the case of the arterial toll tag readers, the deployment contractor provided no such tools and weak documentation. FDOT had to develop procedures for monitoring the equipment after it had been deployed, and it took several months before FDOT had developed an efficient process for doing so.
    • Newly deployed equipment should be integrated into the monitoring and maintenance process incrementally, as soon as each piece of equipment is deployed. The arterial toll tag readers were deployed and inspected over a period of four months in early 2005, but FDOT did not begin developing procedures to monitor that equipment until the deployment project was completed in May 2005. By the time FDOT began monitoring this equipment, almost half the devices had failed. Despite the fact that the deployment contractor was responsible for the equipment during this period, it appeared that the contractor did not monitor the equipment for failures.
    • These requirements should include maintaining a sufficient inventory of spare parts so that repairs can be made quickly. The contract placed requirements on the repair time for serviced parts, but the contractor failed to meet these requirements because insufficient replacement parts were available to make the necessary repairs. As a result, when FDOT discovered the large number of failures in the arterial toll tag readers, it took many months before a sufficient number of replacement parts were available to conduct repairs.
  • Plan for the increased demands on maintenance staff and contractors as new systems are brought online. If possible, avoid bringing several new systems online at the same time. In the case of the arterial toll tag readers, almost half of the readers had failed before manual monitoring began. When monitoring did begin, it required a significant amount of FDOT staff time to poll each individual reader each day to identify readers that had failed. The same held true with the other deployed devices-FDOT staff was required each day to review the status of each field device and copy status information into spreadsheets used to monitor system status. Thus, even though FDOT had taken steps to reduce the demands on its maintenance staff by requiring warranties on much of the iFlorida equipment, monitoring the equipment for failures still required a significant amount of FDOT staff time. The amount of time required was larger when systems were first brought online, as FDOT developed procedures to integrate the new equipment into its monitoring and maintenance programs.
  • Provide a mechanism to continue operations when field equipment fails. At FDOT, key equipment was available 80 to 90 percent of the time, with other equipment available less often.
    • Decreasing the time to repair equipment is an effective approach for increasing the percent of time that equipment is available.
    • Providing a mechanism to continue operations when equipment fails (e.g., redundant equipment, replacement of missing data from failed equipment with estimates based on historical data and/or operator observations) is needed.
FDOT faced significant challenges in maintaining its network of field devices, particularly when several new systems were brought online simultaneously in the summer of 2005. Noticeable drops in the availability of both new and existing field equipment occurred during that period. By the start of 2006, FDOT had reached relatively stable levels of availability for key field equipment and had developed a well-defined process for monitoring and maintaining that equipment. By 2007, the stability of FDOT's maintenance practices allowed the agency to spend more time focusing on ways to improve equipment availability in order to enhance the mobility and efficiency in its transportation network.

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iFlorida Model Deployment Final Evaluation Report

Author: Robert Haas (SAC); Mark Carter (SAIC); Eric Perry (SAIC); Jeff Trombly (SAIC); Elisabeth Bedsole (SAIC): Rich Margiotta (Cambridge Systematics)

Published By: United States Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE Washington, DC 20590

Source Date: 01/30/2009

EDL Number: 14480

URL: https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/3977

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Lessons From This Source

Assess security risks, threats, vulnerabilities, and identify countermeasures to ensure operations of transportation management centers.

Be flexible to use data from various sources, such as the highway police patrol’s incident data, user feedback, and monitoring stations, to develop a statewide traveler information system.

Beware of challenges involved in developing an integrated statewide operations system for traffic monitoring, incident data capture, weather information, and traveler information—all seamlessly controlled by a central software system.

Beware of costs, utility, reliability, and maintenance issues in deploying a statewide transportation network monitoring system.

Beware of the limitations of using toll tags in order to calculate travel time on limited access roadways and arterials.

Beware that software development for ITS projects can be utterly complex, which demands avoiding pitfalls by following a rigorous systems engineering process.

Define a vision for software operations upfront and follow sound systems engineering practices for successfully deploying a complex software system.

Deploy a variable speed limit system only after the software systems required to support it are mature and reliable.

Design traffic video transmission systems around the constraints of bandwidth limitations and provide provisions for remote configuration of video compression hardware.

Develop an accurate, map-based fiber network inventory and engage ITS team in the construction approval process.

Develop an effective evacuation plan for special event that gathers a large audience and consider co-locating the responding agencies in a joint command center.

Ensure compatibility of data format of the field-weather monitoring sensors with the central software in the transportation management center.

Ensure that experienced staff oversee the development of a complex software system and thoroughly follow systems engineering process.

Ensure that Highway Patrol's CAD system operators enter key information needed by the transportation management center operators.

Establish a well defined process for monitoring and maintenance before expanding the base of field equipment.

Estimate life-cycle cost of ITS technologies as part of procurement estimates in order to assess the range of yearly maintenance costs.

In developing software for automated posting of messages on dynamic message signs, focus on the types of messages that are used often and changed frequently, and also include manual methods for posting.

Incorporate diagnostic tools to identify and verify problems in the transmission of video in a transit bus security system.

Perform adequate analyses and tests to design, calibrate and validate the capabilities of a bridge security monitoring system in order to reduce false alarms.

To support statewide traveler information services, design and implement reliable interface software processes to capture incident data from the local and highway patrol police’s computer aided dispatch systems.

Use simple menu choices for 511 traveler information and realize that the majority of callers are seeking en route information while already encountering congestion.

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United States

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Lesson ID: 2009-00492