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Southeast Michigan Transportation Operations Center (SEMTOC)


In this Case Study You Will Learn:

  1. SEMTOC was born out of the interagency collaboration activities required to manage special events.
  2. SEMTOC hosts an after-action review meeting after each Multi-agency Command Center use, which includes the multi-agency partners and event stakeholders.
  3. Collaboration also helps determine strategies around accommodating pedestrian and transit vehicle movements and modifying traffic signal timing plans.


The Southeast Michigan Transportation Operations Center (SEMTOC) serves as Michigan Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) central hub for traveler information collection, analysis, and dissemination. With access to data feeds from on-street microwave vehicle detectors, Bluetooth readers, probe traffic data, traffic cameras, Michigan State Police (MSP) Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD), and coordination with other agencies, SEMTOC operators and staff gather and disseminate valuable traveler information to improve mobility throughout the region.

Presently, SEMTOC supports a coordinated and collaborative effort in managing travel for planned special events. SEMTOC hosts the Multi-Agency Command Center (MACC) in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) during the annual fireworks, Free Press marathon, and other large special events in the Metro Region.

The multi-agency coordination concepts were conceived in support of the 2005 Major League Baseball World Series held at Comerica Park, where MDOT collaborated with other agencies and stakeholders to manage mobility and safety in the downtown arena district. SEMTOC continued to build upon these successes and expanded efforts for the 2006 National Football League’s Superbowl XL, where MDOT converted an existing large meeting space into an Emergency Operations Command Center (EOCC) at the Michigan Intelligent Transportation Systems Center (MITSC) building. State and local police worked in coordination with MDOT staff to monitor and manage the mobility and safety of this enormous event. The collective successes and partnerships established in supporting these large events in Detroit inspired a national initiative to activate EOCs for planned special events focusing on transportation. Effective management of these large planned special events improves the financial impact to the local economy. In fact, the economic impact of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) and the   2006

Communication, Planning, and Development

In 2013, MDOT hosted the first MACC in converting the SEMTOC EOC conference room into a state-of-the-art resource for planned special events, leading to the successful execution of several events in the Metro Detroit area. SEMTOC worked diligently to build relationships with multiple agencies including the Detroit Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Detroit Police Department (DPD), private sector agencies (i.e., Rock Ventures, General Motors OnStar, M1 Rail, etc.), County Sheriff, Fire and Rescue, and other Local, State and Federal agencies. These agencies routinely met with MDOT and the event planners months in advance of the event to discuss logistics, surveillance camera coverage areas, public outreach communications, staging traffic control and sharing resources leading up to the event. On the day of the event SEMTOC manages operations in the MACC, housing these multiple agencies as they work cohesively to share resources and information to ensure that visitors and locals remain safe, and are equipped with the information necessary to make informed travel decisions. Preparation and planning for disseminating the information to the public is coordinated with partners and with the event group to use consistent press release information regarding mobility before, during, and after the event.

During SEMTOC MACC activation the group was successful in identifying unplanned incidents along egress routes allowing the team to enact quick clearance practices. SEMTOC managed a small plane crash along the I-94 freeway that occurred during the evening of the annual Free Press fireworks event. Using surveillance cameras they were able to quickly identify the location of the crash and guide first responders to the scene. Access to partner agency helicopter feed also allowed for identification of disorderly conduct in the crowds and provide accurate locations of these altercations to responders. The MACC consolidates the key decision makers into a single space that eliminates undue delay spent when having to coordinate and combine resources from multiple agencies to respond to larger incidents.

After each MACC activation, SEMTOC hosts an after-action review meeting that include the multi-agency partners and event stakeholders. The meeting reviews the sequence of event execution, documents best practices, lessons learned, and areas for improvement in future events. Through coordination with event stakeholders before, during, and after an event and special event traffic management training, the SEMTOC staff works to improve road users’ travel experiences to and from special events in Metro Detroit.

Benefits, Learnings, and Outcomes

By working together to ensure effective traffic control strategies, communication and multi-agency collaboration, SEMTOC provides the community with a safe, efficient and convenient environment for event travel. In our collaborative discussions we also determine strategies around accommodating pedestrian and transit vehicle movements, modifying traffic signal timing plans and partnering with the City of Detroit, private sector businesses, and other local agencies to access their arterial surveillance cameras to monitor local road conditions.

Additional benefits from our proactive, collaborative and coordinated management of planned special events include:

  • Fostering partnerships with key agencies and stakeholders of different disciplines and geographies
  • Improving daily operations with trusted partners
  • Providing coordinated and collaborative traffic control strategies
  • Identifying areas for further improvement
  • Promoting frequent communication and improving management strategies for future events
  • Providing purposeful insight to daily operations

Operations Area of Practice

    Travel Demand Management
    Transportation Management Centers (TMC / TOC)
    Planned Special Events Traffic Management
    Emergency Transportation Operations

Content Type

Case Studies & Lessons Learned

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