Mississippi Department of Transportation, United States

Commuters get up-to-the-minute traffic alerts and road conditions as they need them

The Mississippi Departmant of Transportation (MDOT) wanted to share information available to the Traffic Management Center in Jackson with as many people as possible. Commuters with up-to-the-minute traffic information have the obvious advantages of avoiding accident sites, rerouting around closed lanes or road segments, and detouring when weather conditions have affected the roadways.

The Project Objectives:

  • Provide an online map-based graphical overview of traffic conditions on state-maintained roads
  • Give access to local television and radio stations so they can broadcast up-to-the-minute traffic information to commuters
  • Supply subscription e-mail reports with information on lane closures
  • Provide local weather information on the same station or Web site

The Solution:

No matter where they live, morning commuters usually check the radio or television for weather and traffic information, then hit the road, hoping for the best. In Mississippi, however, commuters can log onto Mississippi Traffic Watch (www.mstraffic.com), a service of the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT), to get a real-time view of the drive that’s ahead of them.

The Web site provides a map-based graphical overview of traffic conditions, including lane closure and accident alerts, on state-maintained roads. Users can even click on certain high-volume highway segments and intersections to get a video feed showing conditions on the roadway, including weather, traffic volume, and speed. And if clouds are moving in, the commuter can access local weather information from the National Weather Service, all on the same site. Local television and radio stations have direct access to the Traffic Watch system, so commuters who are listening to the radio in their cars or watching television before leaving home have access to the same valuable information.

Mississippi Traffic Watch is an enterprise transportation Web portal that gives citizens and the media nearly all the same information used by MDOT’s engineering group to manage traffic at its Traffic Management Center (TMC) in Jackson. Establishing the TMC was a cooperative effort between the MDOT traffic engineering and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) groups. ITS is responsible for making existing Mississippi highway more efficient.

The enterprise transportation Web portal is built on Intergraph’s Modular GIS Environment (MGE) solution as its transportation GIS. The map viewing application to extend the GIS functionality to the Internet was created using GeoMedia WebMap. MGE Segment Manager handles dynamic segmentation. Both the administrative input screen and end user GUI were created in ASP.net and integrated with GeoMedia WebMap.

Traffic Watch technology allows TMC engineers to monitor and respond to traffic problems in real time. Using the monitoring cameras, they can see when the state highway patrol shows up, as well as ambulance units and wreckers. Typically, they see an accident – or its immediate after effects – before it is reported, and notify the appropriate emergency agencies.

When cargo trucks are involved in an accident, the cameras allow operators to read the warning placards on the truck about what kind of substance or chemical might have spilled. In that case, the TMC can contact the department of environmental quality and alert them to what they will have to deal with on the scene, so they know what equipment to bring and how to approach managing the spill.

Another capability made possible by the online technology is the ability to actively manage traffic flow through remote control of traffic signals via a fiber optic network or using dial-up phone modems. While monitoring traffic near a construction zone or accident scene via a remote camera, for instance, TMC personnel can see when things are backing up, and then remotely control the traffic light over a fiber-optic network to resolve the problem.

“DOTs around the country have implemented a variety of technologies to give citizens better information to make their commutes go more smoothly,” said Rob Frazier, ITS engineer for MDOT, “and our Traffic Watch system is a great foundation that we can use to deploy a system equal to any others in the country.”

Right Hand Column
 
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