Southeast Michigan Traffic Incident Management Partnering Workshop Connects TIM Partners and the Connected &Autonomous Vehicle Community By Tony Kratofil, PE, Metro Region Engineer, Michigan DOT Chair of the NOCoE Technical Advisory Cmmte.

On March 3rd, 2017, approximately 140 members from across the traffic incident management (TIM) community gathered for the 12th annual Southeast Michigan Traffic Incident Management Partnering Workshop at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Michigan.  The event was organized by Beaubien Engineering, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) and the Traffic Improvement Association of Michigan, and sponsored by Opticom and ITS Michigan.  Participants in the workshop ranged from professionals in police, fire, emergency medical services, public safety answering points, towing companies, freeway service patrol operators, and road agencies from the state, county and municipal levels.  And for the first time ever, the audience included representatives from several automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers and Patrick Son, Managing Director of the National Operations Center of Excellence (NOCoE).

The half-day workshop was opened with welcoming remarks from Dave Staudt, Mayor Pro Temp of the City of Novi, a former police official himself, and a keynote address from Lt. Colonel Richard Arnold of the Michigan State Police (MSP), who painted an exciting picture for the audience of what the world and traffic incident management could look like in the future with connected and autonomous vehicle technology.  His remarks set the stage for the workshop agenda that walked participants though a series of presentations on “TIM Today,” “TIM Tomorrow” and “TIM in the Future.”

Oladayo “Dayo” Akinyemi, MDOT’s Southeast Michigan Transportation Operations Center (SEMTOC) Manager, Reginald Washington, a Maintenance Coordinator and first responder for MDOT in Wayne County, and Lt. Michael Shaw, of the MSP addressed some the current challenges and advancements in “TIM Today.”  Their presentations included recent efforts to mitigate and respond to weather related events, especially flooding on freeways through improved weather data collection and sharing at SEMTOC, monitoring of the regions 136 pump stations that help remove water from low spots along the freeway system, and increased efforts to proactively identify trouble spots and remove debris before it clogs drainage systems.  They also led a discussion on recent initiatives to combat wrong way drivers on the freeway system, including a review of videos of several incidents and how they are now being handled more effectively than ever before.  They wrapped up this session with an after-action look at one of the area’s high crash locations and some strategies being pursued to reduce both primary and secondary crashes.

Transitioning to a discussion of “TIM Tomorrow,” the workshop participants heard presentations from Kymberly Pashkowsky, a firefighter and instructor from Algoma Township Fire Department, on the latest technology for expedited extraction of injured crash victims.  Then Craig Shackelford, Crash Investigator for the International Center for Automotive Medicine (ICAM) at the University of Michigan, spoke about new technology and approaches that could drastically improve the quality and reduce the time needed for crash investigations and reconstruction work.

The workshop then moved to a discussion about “TIM in the Future” with the advancement of connected and autonomous vehicles (CV/AV).  Michele Mueller, MDOT’s Connected Vehicle Manager in Southeast Michigan, provided an overview of the latest developments and applications being pursued by transportation agencies and the automotive sector.  She also highlighted the Planet M™ initiative, an effort to pull together all the work in Michigan on the future of mobility, from technology research and deployments to talent recruitment and development, under one brand.  Patrick Son shared remarks regarding specific CV/AV applications that would benefit incident response which are being discussed nationally, and then shared a NOCoE video of several of these applications which were demonstrated in 2016 at an event sponsored by ITS Pennsylvania. 

The session concluded with a group workshop exercise, where TIM professionals and auto industry representatives explored and discussed how CV/AV technology and applications could improve TIM in the future.  Some common themes that came from all the table discussions included:

  • Exacting location information was widely discussed as being essential.
  • Having connected vehicles transmit the type, severity, and location of damage to a vehicle can more effectively alert first responders what equipment and personnel is needed to contain and clear incidents.
  • Having a uniform “language” for the data being shared will be important, both for those operating within the TIM community, but also because portions of that information will likely be shared outside the TIM community, such as with traveler information services or the media.
  • There was a recognition of the need to address privacy and data security issues.

A special “thank you” to the sponsors and partners who made this year’s Southeast Michigan Traffic Incident Management Partnering Workshop a success, and to Patrick Son for joining us and expanding this important discussion through the NOCoE.  The presentations can be found at SEMCOG’s website.