- Why the City of Bellevue looked for a real-time API dashboard and camera system to monitor and respond to traffic incidents at intersections.
- How the integrated system allows for remote and quick response to incidents, and post incident analysis.
- About operations and management improvements due to the integrated dashboard and camera system.
The City of Bellevue developed an API dashboard tool to integrate real-time emergency 911 dispatch data with traffic operations, video monitoring, and incident archiving. The dashboard provides a seamless process to efficiently manage 911 data for immediate response and post-event assessment of traffic incidents. Northeast King County Regional Public Safety Communication Agency (NORCOM) in Washington State is the agency responsible for managing and dispatching emergency 911 calls for the City of Bellevue. In 2018, NORCOM received an average of 482 calls per day and many of the calls were related to traffic collisions or led to roadway closures in Bellevue.
NORCOM has a real-time agency displaying and reporting program (RAADAR) to deliver the call types, time and locations to different agencies. RAADAR provides real-time traffic collision notifications which are forwarded as email alerts to the City of Bellevue’s operation engineers so that timely actions can be taken to address the incidents. Prior to the development of RAADAR dashboard, responses to many critical incidents were left unattended or delayed. Previously, the verification and management of incident locations were time consuming: engineers had to open each email alert and go through multiple steps to verify and decide if an incident was critical enough to attend.
TSMO Planning, Strategies, and Deployment
In 2019, Bellevue decided to develop a dashboard to display the information provided by RAADAR with a GIS map and further integrate Bellevue’s high-resolution traffic cameras. The dashboard development was a collaboration between NORCOM 911 personnel, IT software developers, police, technicians, and operation engineers.
To initiate the dashboard development process, the City of Bellevue Transportation Department engaged with NORCOM software engineers to request for an Application Programming Interface (API) for the dashboard development. NORCOM already had a plan to utilize the API in a similar way to what the City of Bellevue proposed. NORCOM and the City of Bellevue saw it as a great opportunity for collaboration between agencies and try the APO dashboard on a smaller scale. NORCOM was able to provide the City of Bellevue GIS programmer with the desired information for the dashboard. Bellevue decided to develop the dashboard in-house through its IT department. A part time GIS programmer funded by Transportation Department was recruited to focus on the development. The ITE department also helped to set up the Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds so live video can be accessed through the API dashboard without affecting bandwidth.
Currently, 360-degree traffic cameras with up to 30 days of recording cover 60% of the 203 signalized intersections in Bellevue, Washington. 360-degree traffic cameras provide the ability to view and record video for all intersection approaches as each installation includes 4 fixed wide-angle lens cameras that provide full visibility at each location. Bellevue has accelerated the installation of 360-degree cameras, upgraded the communication network to 10G, and provided adequate recording storage capacity for 30 days. In 2019, in-house IT technicians implemented 40 additional cameras. By 2021, 100% of the signalized intersections will be covered and recorded. Essentially, any traffic incident that occurs at or near a signalized intersection will be captured and managed by the API dashboard.
The core function of the API dashboard is to alert operations engineers that monitoring, assessing and addressing the traffic incidents with the cameras system is necessary. Traffic incidents are displayed on a GIS City map with the option to filter out other calls except traffic crash. When an engineer receives a new alert, they select the incident for review with the option to link to a nearby camera within 200 ft. The engineer can review archived video of the incident from the store recordings and bring up the live 360 degree cameras for traffic and incident monitoring and response. Where needed, the engineer can adjust the adaptive signal control timing parameters to alleviate congestion during and after the incidents without the need to manipulate timing plans or splits. The engineers can seamlessly set up temporary parameters and adjustments to clear the congestion caused by an incident. The camera system is also used for analysis of crash cause to determine safety efforts.
Communications Planning and Execution
The API dashboard was beta tested within the City of Bellevue prior to full use to ensure that it provides seamless functionalities that include GIS location display, event filter and live video access. The API dashboard and traffic cameras are now considered an essential traffic management tool and resides on the monitor of every operations engineer. The
The API dashboard has become a mission-critical tool to complement and utilize the advance adaptive signal system in the City of Bellevue. Any major incidents is also communicated promptly to the City of Bellevue Public Information Officer (PIO) to deliver the message to general public and related agencies until the incidents are clear. The dashboard allows the PIO to provide timely and accurate travelers’ information to warn road users to avoid the congested areas.
Outcome, Benefits, and Learnings
The API dashboard is a great tool to save lives, time and money. It offers engineers a valuable tool to manage traffic by providing instant incident alerts and identifying locations for real-time monitoring. The API dashboard and camera system is also an essential component of the Ciy of Bellevue’s Vision Zero program.
With engineers actively monitoring the traffic incidents and adjust the signal timing, congestion duration is shortened and the public experiences less travel delays. With the integration of API dashboard and adaptive signal control system, operations staff are able to provide intersection control similar to an officer being present to direct traffic. The City of Bellevue noticed an average serious incident will take about 30 to 60 minutes to clear and return to normal depending on the severity of the collisions. Most of the times, the duration is dictated by the available tow trucks to the scenes. Managing the incidents can easily reduce the recovery time by 50%. The dashboard and system also allows engineers to respond to multiple incidents at once and understand correlation each other if applicable.
On average, the tool saves approximately 10-15 minutes of time investigating each traffic incident. Using the dashboard, engineers can promptly save the video footage of traffic incidents. In 2019, because of the alerts, engineers had saved almost 500 traffic video footages. Not only does the footages help police investigation of the incident and post-event engineering review, they are available for general public through the public disclosure request. In 2019, the City of Bellevue processed 4- 5 requests weekly from legal entities, insurance companies and individuals is assist in crash investigation and analysis. Due to the API dashboard, the City of Bellevue received numerous commendations for resolving disputes over traffic incidents. The combination of the API dashboard and camera systems makes it easier for engineers to explain the signal sequence and timing or to give depositions for litigations and lawsuits.
During recent snowstorms in Bellevue, video recordings of hit and run damages to City owned property allowed the City of Bellevue Risk Department to identify the responsible party to recover all the damages. Traffic incident footages also helps identify future safety improvements to potentially prevent repeat traffic incidents and help reduce serious injuries and fatalities.
For the City of Bellevue, it is just an initial step as there are plans to build on the integrated platform for other solutions, such as, integrating with third party application information (Google, Waze, Inrix, etc.), providing signal information, and allowing a public interface to receive the alerts/updates. The API dashboard has revolutionized how operation engineers manage and process traffic incidents to provide the best possible operations during each event to benefit the public. Other agencies could use a solution and approach like the City of Bellevue API dashboard and camera system to streamline and improve incident management efforts, and better manage and utilize 911 information.