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ATSSA reports from ITS World Congress 2017 Montréal
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ATSSA reports from ITS World Congress 2017 Montréal

New system attempts to monitor physical infrastructure, specifically work zones, into dynamic digital maps

By ATSSA Director of New Programs, Brian Watson

While attending the ITS World Congress 2017 Montréal I had the privilege of attending a few sessions focusing on using Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) to make work zones safer, and integrating agency data into mobile applications. These two important topics tackle the issues of handling the dynamics of the ever-changing work zone. As we’ve been told, Connected Automated Vehicles (CAVs) are going to make our roadways safer by connecting every aspect of the roadways to the vehicle and or driver. The issue is, how do we account for work zones that aren’t connected, are located in rural areas, or not reported to the traffic management center? Waze believes they have a solution, albeit a temporary one, to bridge these gaps in communication.

Waze’s Connected Citizens Program (CCP), a free two-way data exchange is a promising data sharing program that could have valuable uses for work zone safety. The program is an upgrade from the 511 technology states have used; the data transmission is so efficient that incidents are reported and disseminated faster than traditional 911 calls.

The CCP attempts to tackle data sharing from a few different angles including working directly with departments of transportation, and by crowdsourcing data from everyday drivers. Adam Fries from Google/WAZE said they are accounting for unreported work zones by relying on transportation departments to share traffic plan information and utilizing WAZE users and field specialists to send in reports. He said they use a reliability scale based on previous reporting for user reports to determine whether the information is correct and they are beginning to work with departments to obtain information about work zones and road closures.

In my opinion, this system is not the final solution in accounting for unreported work zones, but at least it is attempting to address the issue with “off the grid” work zones and lane closures. Crowd sourcing traffic information is a novel approach, but WAZE’s goal is to integrate their technology into every state department’s transportation plans. This free data sharing effort could significantly improve how work zones are reported and added to your navigation maps. The next step must be to integrate this information into all navigation providers to ensure everyone has the most up-to-date news on traffic incidents.

Read Watson’s full report on work zone detection technology in the January/February issue of The Signal.

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