Project Name

Interoperability of Virginia Transportation Operations Centers

Research Team

Brian Smith

Hyungjun Park

Houbing Song

Sponsor

Other Virginia Department of Transportation

Project Dates

December 2008 - December 2009

Project Description

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) operations five regional transportation operations centers (TOCs).  These centers are responsible for coordinating activities within their corresponding operations region.  Furthermore, the regions must collaborate with each other, and the statewide Transportation Emergency Operations Center (TEOC) on major events (planned or unplanned).  While the centers operate collaboratively, they are not interoperable.

 

The interoperability of TOCs would provide the potential for Virginia to realize a more robust statewide operations capability.  In the event that one TOC became non-functional (perhaps due to physical incapacitation during an extreme weather event), another, “interoperable” TOC could step in and direct operations in the region.  In addition, interoperability may allow regions to better understand each other’s practices and promote more consistent, coordinated statewide operations.  While these benefits are compelling, achieving interoperability will require effort and expense.  Thus, the purpose of this research effort is to fully explore the interoperability of Virginia’s TOCs.

 

The scope of this work will be as follows:

  • Document benefits from interoperability
  • Identify technical opportunities and risks in interoperability
  • Identify institutional opportunities and risks in interoperability
  • Develop a high-level action plan for VDOT to consider following towards achieving TOC interoperability.

 

Methodology

Purpose and Scope 

The purpose of this research effort is to fully explore the interoperability of Virginia’s TOCs.  The scope of this work will be as follows:

  • Document benefits from interoperability
  • Identify technical opportunities and risks in interoperability
  • Identify institutional opportunities and risks in interoperability
  • Develop a high-level action plan for VDOT to consider following towards achieving TOC interoperability.

This project will be closely coordinated with other ongoing efforts that UVA CTS is currently conducting for VDOT – (a) common minimum standard operating practices for TOCs; and (b) critical infrastructure security research.

 

Benefits

The primary benefit of this research project is that it will provide VDOT professionals with a thorough set of information to use in making decisions regarding actions to achieve TOC interoperability.  Given that interoperability will likely require significant capital investments, as well as changes in practice, it is essential that VDOT make decisions from a fully informed perspective.  Finally, by providing a foundation for TOC interoperability, this study will ultimately help VDOT to create more robust, and coordinated statewide operations.

 

Methodology 

To achieve the project purpose, the following methodology was developed. The individual tasks are explained in detail below. A final report will be delivered at the conclusion of the project which will detail the findings of the effort.

 

Literature Review

The purpose of this task is to review existing documents for information on the following topics:

  • Definition of interoperability: This task will help understand the essence and details of the concept of ‘interoperability.’
  •  Different levels of either proposed or achieved interoperability among TOCs: The literature will be explored to identify proposed or realized TOC interoperability in other states or countries.
  • Benefits and costs of realizing TOC interoperability: Both the anticipated, as well as realized benefits will be explored and documented. Further, the costs and efforts – such as institutional issues – will also be explored and documented. For example, according to a federal ITS Joint Program Office  report (2002), the ITS standards have evolved with ‘interoperability’ as one of the benefits, leading to further benefits, such as the ability to easily exchange and interpret transportation data.

 

Explore Technical Requirements to Achieve TOC Interoperability

This task will involve conducting research to identify technical requirements for TOC interoperability.  The work will be driven by the literature review, experience of the research team in the ongoing SOP project, further consultation with VDOT officials, and review of TOC design documentation.  It is important to note that there will not be a single way to achieve interoperability technically.  Thus, this task will also document trade-offs in terms of interoperability “level” and technical modifications.

Results from this task will be communicated to the regional transportation operations managers (RTOMs) for feedback throughout the project.

 

Explore Institutional Requirements to Achieve TOC Interoperability

This task will parallel and complement Task 2.  Interoperability of TOCs will require changes in the way in which VDOT operates each TOC.  Certainly, the level of the changes will impact the degree of interoperability achieved.  In this task, the research team will identify specific institutional changes that will result in improved interoperability, and document the level of interoperability achieved.  As with Task 2, the results of the Task will be communicated with the RTOMs for feedback.

 

Synthesis

This task will synthesize the results of Tasks 2 and 3 to clearly communicate:

  • Technical and institutional changes required for interoperability
  • Benefits resulting from these changes.

Throughout the project, the research team will coordinate closely with the Operations and Security Division (OSD) and the RTOMs, for feedback and harmonization with other ongoing, related activities within VDOT.