- How FDOT District 2 used a technology test bed development approach to train personnel on TSMO thinking.
- How the training test bed was also a valuable hands-on tool for the FDOT District 2 group to assess different technologies, products, and vendors/manufacturers without incurring high costs typical of usual pilot projects.
- How technology test bed development provides critical networking of staff with vendors, CEIs, Contractors, partnering agencies and other Districts.
For more than two decades, Florida has been at the forefront of implementation of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). In the last decade, the state has shifted to the Transportation System Management and Operations (TSMO) approach. The TSMO Program is built on the following 6 pillars; Connected Vehicles, Management and Deployments, ITS Communications, ITS Software and Architecture, the Statewide Arterial Management Program (STAMP) and Managed Lanes. TSM&O is stakeholder and performance driven utilizing emerging technologies to find solutions to provide a safe transportation system that ensures the mobility of people and goods, enhances economic prosperity, and preserves the quality of our environment and communities.
The need for experienced, knowledgeable staff is critical for the advancement of TSMO Programs. With more TSMO/ITS construction projects in work programs, the market is at a point where the supply of experienced staff is deficient compared to the hiring demand. With resources and existing personnel stretched thin, a culture of guided independent learning and pointed training strategies are required to keep up with the curve.
TSMO Planning, Strategies, and Deployment
Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District 2 has developed a hands on learning program to bring personnel up to speed and help them stay educated on the ever-evolving technologies. District 2 wanted staff start from the ground up, tasked with overseeing the creation of test bed technology. This consisted of coordinating the installation of a traffic signal cabinet and the conversion of an existing concrete light pole to hold various ITS and traffic control devices. Not only is the test bed used to evaluate innovative transportation infrastructure technology, but it also provides a place to introduce personnel to TSMO technology. On top of the hands-on learning, it requires personnel to familiarize themselves with the FDOT Approved Products List (APL), Innovative Product List (IPL), Pay Items, Design Standards, Standard Specifications for Roadway and Construction and other tools that are required to perform daily duties at a high level. This approach blends highly effective training practices such as Hands-on, Research, Interactive and Coaching-Mentoring.
The main components of the setup include a fully furnished NEMA-style traffic cabinet and a converted concrete light pole with an external conduit/riser and weather head to accommodate cabling for devices mounted to the pole (see picture) The test bed is connected to the FDOT District 2 ITS network via fiber fed from the Regional Transportation Management Center (RTMC).
The test bed is a TERL (Traffic Engineer Research Lab) approach to evaluating equipment; focusing on ease-of-use, installation practices, and basic compatibility with existing ITS infrastructure. Most products still have to go through the TERL for approval and their eventual deployment on state roads, but for those that don’t, the test bed aims to provide sufficient product information by means of presentations and whitepapers to share with other Districts and interested parties. Products tested to date include:
- APL products
- Trafficware Controllers
- Intelight Controller
- Bosch dome Closed Circuit Television (CCTV)
- Axis dome CCTV
- Wavetronix MVDS (Microwave Vehicle Detection System)
- TrafficCast BlueTOAD Spectra Automatic Vehicle Identification (AVI)
- TrafficCast BlueTOAD Spectra Roadside Unit (RSU)
- ITS Express MFES (Managed Field Ethernet Switch)
- Cisco MFES
- Pre-APL products
- BTU Research’s rugged MFES (passed TERL certification after District 2’s test bed evaluation)
- Cepton Lidar (expected to pass TERL certification after District 2’s test bed evaluation, as wrong way VDS)
- Non-APL products
- MH Corbin Connect: ITS roadside controller
- Advantech edge video/lidar analytics processor
- Various configuration/management software packages
Communications Planning and Execution
While District 2’s training approach was implemented with internal growth in mind, there are numerous communication and external growth benefits. Although personnel development was the foundation of this training Program, the benefit of the multi-agency collaboration is Systemwide. Communication and coordination internally and with other agencies include:
- Collaborating and communicating with FDOT’s Central Office TERL on products and features prior to, during and after testing.
- Establishing relationships with vendors/companies on how their product interacts with existing ITS infrastructure that is widespread across Florida while also accounting for District 2’s needs and limitations.
- Building on relationships with the Construction Office, CEIs and Contractors on new technological solutions along with proper installation and integration. These efforts assist with keeping projects on time and budget.
- Being co-located with the RTMC allows for think-tank type meetings on technology uses, implementation and integration within the existing infrastructure and efforts of expansion.
- Information sharing and partnering with other local agencies on efforts, including with the City of Jacksonville Traffic, Jacksonville Transit Authority, JaxPort, City of Gainesville Traffic and others.
- Knowledge is shared via White Papers, Presentations and discussions with other Districts, Municipalities and other Government Agencies to share lessons learned and best practices.
- Critical communication with vendors on products throughout the testing process as well as on Program needs and how vendors can better their products moving forward.
- Sharing of findings at conferences and workshops.
- Availability to do live demonstrations to visitors of the RTMC and Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) within the Transportation Industry. The RTMC benefits from being housed with the local TPO along with other partnering agencies.
- Informative to District Leadership.
Outcome, Learnings, and Public Benefit
The test bed allows a place for personnel to learn about the planning, design, construction, maintenance, integration and operations aspects of TSMO. It is a valuable hands-on tool for the FDOT District 2 group to assess different technologies, products, and vendors/manufacturers without incurring high costs typical of usual pilot projects. The relationships with vendors who are willing to participate in the evaluation process by providing test units and engineering support have been mutually beneficial for all involved. District 2 has experienced some limitations of the setup due to the low volume traffic of the adjacent local road, but there are plans to expand the test bed by including nearby intersections for real-world test applications in the near future.
The test bed accelerates learning, challenges staff and puts the District 2 TSMO Program in a better position to succeed. This practice allows for critical networking of staff with vendors, CEIs, Contractors, partnering agencies and other Districts around the state. Those lessons learned and relationships provide a higher quality product while assisting other agencies to progress as well. Future opportunities are endless with the pace new technology and improving technologies are hitting the market. The outcome for the community is roadways that are instrumented where technology is used to manage traffic conditions and optimize roadway safety and performance.
Operations Area of Practice
- Position Descriptions, Recruitment and Retention
- Training and Profesional Development
- TSMO Culture
Organizational Capability Element
- Technical Understanding
- Education, Training & Professional Activities
- Organizational Structure/Staffing
- Recruitment and Retention
- Staff Development
- Case Studies & Lessons Learned