Government Technology

    Digital Communities
    Industry Members

  • Click sponsor logos for whitepapers, case studies, and best practices.
  • McAfee

Washington, D.C., Uses Regional Transportation Information System to Combine Data for Emergency, Traffic Response

Washington, D.C., Snow February 2010/Photo by David Kidd
Washington, D.C., Snow February 2010

February 19, 2010 By

The National Capitol Region has a population of about 5 million and what can seem like as many law enforcement and related agencies. The Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia area was recently blanketed when hit by the worst snow storm in recent years. There were thousands of car accidents, closed roads, closed schools and even closed federal offices during the height of the chaos.

But for the roughly 120 agencies that respond to transportation concerns and emergencies, it was a controlled chaos, thanks to better communication.

"None of these agencies can talk to each other unless they pick up a phone," said Michael Pack, University of Maryland's Center for Advanced Transportation Technology (CATT) director. "So what our system does is acts as a translator between the agencies to be rapidly shared with everyone in the region."

The system is the Regional Integrated Transportation Information System (RITIS) and gives hundreds of officials at command centers and in the field a consolidated, real-time stream of traffic, accident and weather information from different sources, all displayed on a single Web page. First responders can also have two-way access to the information by using CapWIN -- the Capital Wireless Information Net -- a regional coalition of public safety and transportation agencies across Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia and the federal government. Both technologies were developed and are operated by the University of Maryland's CATT.

While the technology isn't new -- agencies in the area use it every day -- more hopped on board during the big storm.

"It really helps to give the picture overview, which is what a lot of managers want," Pack said. "The idea came out of the need to share information so you can respond and coordinate better."

The RITIS got its first widespread trial run during last year's presidential inauguration and is currently available to those in the emergency operations, safety and transportation fields. But Pack hopes to eventually make the service available to the public as well as integrate snow plow information -- which isn't available.

Pack is hoping the ease of communication will lead to fewer jurisdiction disagreements and provide to-the-minute traffic information.

The system monitors traffic conditions throughout the region via weather and traffic sensors embedded in the pavement, a University of Maryland press release states. "We monitor commercial vehicles outfitted with GPS to get a sense of travel times up and down the East Coast from New Jersey to South Carolina," the release states. "We monitor accidents on the road and display them via sophisticated graphics, including detailed information about who is responding, what is being done to fix the situation and the effects on traffic."

Not only does RITIS help public officials during the height of emergency situations, it could prove invaluable when the storm blows over, as every piece of information collected is archived indefinitely, Pack said. "And we've got tools that allow the public officials and emergency operators to run reports, so they can see what they did and calculate the impact they had on the transportation system as a whole.

"The data archive is almost as important as the real-time sharing of information."

For more information, visit the Web site.



| More


Add Your Comment

You are solely responsible for the content of your comments. We reserve the right to remove comments that are considered profane, vulgar, obscene, factually inaccurate, off-topic, or considered a personal attack.

In Our Library

White Papers | Exclusives Reports | Webinar Archives | Best Practices and Case Studies
Digital Cities & Counties Survey: Best Practices Quick Reference Guide
This Best Practices Quick Reference Guide is a compilation of examples from the 2013 Digital Cities and Counties Surveys showcasing the innovative ways local governments are using technological tools to respond to the needs of their communities. It is our hope that by calling attention to just a few examples from cities and counties of all sizes, we will encourage further collaboration and spark additional creativity in local government service delivery.
Wireless Reporting Takes Pain (& Wait) out of Voting
In Michigan and Minnesota counties, wireless voting via the AT&T network has brought speed, efficiency and accuracy to elections - another illustration of how mobility and machine-to-machine (M2M) technology help governments to bring superior services and communication to constituents.
Why Would a City Proclaim Their Data “Open by Default?”
The City of Palo Alto, California, a 2013 Center for Digital Government Digital City Survey winner, has officially proclaimed “open” to be the default setting for all city data. Are they courageous or crazy?
View All