IN THIS CASE STUDY YOU WILL LEARN:
- The New Jersey DOT and New Jersey State Police have partnered on traffic incident management since 1993, with a formal TIM program created in 2014.
- The development of the TIM portal not only allowed for a central clearinghouse of information for all agencies involved in TIM, but also enable the TIM training exercises.
- Extensive outreach efforts were key to enable the use of the portal
The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) partnered with the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) in 1993 to form the Incident Management Operations Group (IMOG). The main objective was to direct and guide the development of the Traffic Incident Management (TIM) program in New Jersey. The IMOG was established as a multidisciplinary working group of agencies (NJDOT, NJSP, NJ Division of Fire and others), involved in traffic incident response and management. The IMOG’s focus was to enhance the State’s TIM program from a policy and operations perspective and to provide for the safe and efficient movement of traffic in New Jersey. At that time, transportation planners had very little interaction with traffic incident responders and the IMOG.
Since 2014, the dialogue between transportation planners and first responders intensified and resulted in the formation of the State of New Jersey Traffic Incident Management Strategic Plan that formalized coordination among all agencies involved in TIM. The Strategic Plan (Plan), adopted in early 2015, aimed to coordinate the resources of several different partnering agencies and private sector companies. By implementing this plan, organizations now work together to detect, respond to, and clear traffic incidents as quickly as possible and attempt to reduce the impacts of incidents on safety and congestion, while protecting the safety of on-scene responders and the traveling public. Some of the actions developed in this Plan were designed to answer questions such as “How do we create a single place for TIM in the state that could address the above and also be accessible on desktop and mobile devices?”
TSMO PLANNING, STRATEGIES AND DEPLOYMENT
One of the TIM initiatives emerging from the Strategic Plan was the development of the New Jersey TIM web portal to address these and other issues raised during Plan development. Dedicated as the sole place to go for TIM in New Jersey, the vision was for the web portal to function as a central clearinghouse for responders across the state. In March of 2016, www.NJTIM.org was launched to meet goals identified in the Plan and to significantly enhance TIM CMM capabilities in New Jersey. NJTIM.org is envisioned as a cornerstone one-stop-for-all that continues to provide information such as a schedule of past and future training sessions, general NJTIM documents, and serves as a forum for sharing best practices.
The Plan also identified five interagency Working Groups which meet periodically and access information on their separate pages via user log-in. Additional Working Groups, such as the recent Restore 495 Task Force, also have their own pages and private access.
COMMUNICATIONS PLANNING AND EXECUTION
The NJTIM.org portal now ensures that New Jersey will meet FHWA’s Strategic Plan TIM “unit performance measures goal” to train at least 10 percent (29,000) of first responders. From the kickoff of the website in March 2016, 234 training classes were held and 4,787 New Jersey responders have been trained. Records have been and will continue to be maintained through the www.NJTIM.org website.
The portal makes it easy and simple for trainers to set up classes, record their class activity, access all training materials and keep attendance. The portal eases the responsibility of training an additional 16,000+ responders. The website promotes interagency cooperation and communication, includes state guideline documents, training resources, as well as videos and other TIM information through a framework where all TIM activities reside.
Interested responders can search upcoming classes by date, county or zip code. The class is used for continuing education credits and professional development hours for certain disciplines. The web portal also automatically provides training certificates to all class attendees.
Understanding that the training process has to be as simple as possible, the portal functions are continuously enhanced to provide as much automation as possible to various processes such as class management and communication between instructors and class participants by automatically sending class reminders and updates and training certificates by e-mail.
OUTCOMES, LEARNINGS AND PUBLIC BENEFITS
As a one-stop portal, NJTIM.org provides clear and current information to trainers and responders, working group participants and the public. It is also a way that the state and its academic partners track training efforts for reporting to federal agencies.
A Frequently Asked Questions page provides answers to many common questions to educate site users as to the benefits and who would benefit from TIM, how can a TIM class be delivered at any Fire, EMS, and Police facility, and how to become a TIM trainer, etc.
Previously, hard copy training materials were needed to be updated and distributed each time changes were made and for each class held. The website simplifies registration, resource access, tracking and information availability and reduces or eliminates printing thus making everything more efficient and less expensive. The site is also designed to allow two-way communication, permitting users to ask questions, request classes and identify unmet needs.
Outreach is another critical component that promotes TIM training and educates responders and the public. The web portal section showcases TIM training and capacity building initiatives and activities, and promotes TIM and traffic operations concepts and their implementation in New Jersey:
- TIM Overview: NJ Statewide TIM Program – Showcases recent TIM training activities and the benefits of TIM training.
- TIM Case Studies: Lessons Learned from three traffic incidents.
- NJ/NY Joint TIM Training (September 2016) – Follows the day’s activities at the TIM training event organized jointly by the NJDOT, NJ State Police, and New York State DOT.
- Overview of NJDOT Transportation Systems Management & Operations (TSMO) – Takes you behind the scenes of traffic management and operations activities performed by NJDOT and partner agencies.
The NJTIM.org website is marketed at conferences and conventions around NJ (EMS, Firemen’s Convention, etc.) with allied responder organizations. NJDOT staff and New Jersey State Police Incident Management Unit staff also conduct outreach to State Police and Fire academies. As a result, a growing number of NJ State Police academies now have TIM included as part of their curriculum and the training is coordinated through NJTIM.org. The NJ Forest Fire Service, as the only agency currently mandating TIM training, directs their members to attend training classes through NJTIM.org.