Incorporate contractual provisions to conduct on-site traffic signal hardware and software demonstration testing and provide sufficient project oversight to ensure vendors meet agency requirements.

Experience implementing an ATMS in Fort Collins, Colorado.

24 June 2008
Fort Collins,Colorado,United States

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Lesson Learned

An advanced traffic management system (ATMS) project design and procurement should include rigorous performance requirements for vendors supplying traffic signal hardware and software. It is not only critical to select a proper vendor, it is also critical that the performance requirements for the vendors be well established within the procurement documents. In addition, the project manager and project engineers need to provide sufficient project oversight to be sure the vendors are meeting the requirements of the contract. A well-written contract cannot make up for little project oversight, nor will it protect the agencies' interests during failure of certain aspects of the project. Often, these failings result in litigation which, even when the agency wins, has absorbed time and money better spent elsewhere. In addition, it is often not possible to simply return large purchases when products fail to perform as promised.

When working with hardware and software vendors, the City of Fort Collins offers the following lessons learned:
  • Conduct all product testing and demonstrations in the location where the product has to work. Having vendors show their product at their facility means little when the equipment will not work on-site. In contractual agreements, it is important to make sure vendors prove their products will do what they say by testing their products on-site. It is also important for the implementing agency to learn, as much as possible, about vendors' products in order to test them appropriately. The electronics environment within transportation infrastructure is becoming very high-tech, very detailed, and very complicated, making it very difficult to be knowledgeable of all facets of the equipment available for meeting customers' needs unless the product demonstration tests are conducted on-site with due diligence.
  • Be aware that vendors may over-promise and under-deliver. Almost all the vendors offering products or services employed on the project promoted the impressive capabilities of their products and services. Yet vendors could not actually meet their commitments. Frequently, products and services fell short of their touted capabilities. Some vendors' contracts had to be terminated because their products or services failed to perform as contracted, or even, in one case, failed to perform at all.
One possibility for selecting hardware and software vendors that meet the agencies requirements is for the agency to consider a two-step procurement process: pre-qualification and bid. This type of procurement requires the vendors to meet certain pre-qualifications before they can be allowed to bid on the entire project. The agency can require the vendor to provide a demonstration or some other proof to determine if the hardware and software proposed will meet their needs before the vendor is allowed to compete for the full project.

It is particularly important that a good client-vendor relationship be built where project goals are understood and effective communication is established. This relationship should begin when defining system requirements and should continue through implementation and system acceptance.

For successful deployment of an advanced traffic signal system, the agencies should be aware of the tendency for some vendors to over-promise and under-deliver. Therefore, the contractual agreements between an agency and a vendor must include provisions requiring the vendor to ensure the system meets the agency’s requirement by performing system demonstration tests on-site before the system is deployed. Well-written contracts and prudent vendor oversight are essential in order to ensure productivity and customer satisfaction in an ATMS project implementation.

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City of Fort Collins Advanced Traffic Management System: Final Report

Author: Unknown

Published By: RITA ITS JPO

Source Date: 24 June 2008

EDL Number: 14452

URL: https://rosap.ntl.bts.gov/view/dot/3260

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coordinated signals, signal coordination, centralized signal control, signal synchronization, traffic signals, advanced signal control, signal timing optimization, coordinated signal control, advanced signal controller, traffic signal retiming, retiming

Lesson ID: 2009-00469