Prepare traveler information Web sites for high usage under emergency or disaster conditions.

Experience from the nation's top traffic and transit information Web sites.

New York City,New York,United States; San Antonio,Texas,United States; Atlanta,Georgia,United States

Background (Show)

Lesson Learned

When implementing a new traffic information Web site, the technical staff should consider the likelihood of high usage of the system.
  • Prepare traveler information Web sites to accommodate high volume of users. Successful Web sites can attract millions of hits, especially when there is an event that causes problems with the transportation system. As an extreme example, after the September 11, 2001 emergency situation in New York City, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority Web site usage went to 10,000,000 hits per day in the immediate aftermath, as the site became the regional Web site of choice. There are a variety of technical approaches to keep the site available and working well during peak usage.
    • Develop a condensed site for peak time usage. The San Antonio District of Texas Department of Transportation's TransGuide Web site received more than 118 million hits in 2003. The system used to slow down during major weather problems because of the heavy use. To respond to technical constraints and enable more people to use the system during peaks, the Texas DOT developed a condensed site for use at those times. Condensed sites take less space, so more people can get the information.
    • Add faster servers and increased bandwidth. The Georgia Department of Transportation added faster servers and increased bandwidth to handle the large volumes of users.
This lesson suggests that developers should take into account the likelihood of high usage of traveler information Web site in the event of inclement weather conditions or emergency situations. Having the capability to accommodate high volumes of users gives credibility to the Web site and may encourage users to continue using the Web site during other non-emergency times. Using a condensed Web site, adding faster servers or increasing the bandwidth of a system can ensure that the Web site will remain available during high peak periods of usage. Thus, when traveler information Web sites are being developed, it is imperative that they consider the technical requirements for high volumes of users to ensure a successful and efficient system.

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Best Practices for Traveler Information Websites: Lessons Learned From Top Traffic and Transit Website Winners

Author: Economic and Industry Analysis Division John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center United States Department of Transportation

Published By: Office of Operations Federal Highway Administration U.S. Department of Transportation

Source Date: 6/1/2006

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Lesson ID: 2006-00319