Kansas City Scout


Monday, March 12, 2012

Scout Integrating Weather With Traffic Management

Posted by Nancy Powell
KC Scout TMC Systems Supervisor

In 2009, KC Scout was selected to participate in a national study by the Federal Highway Administration. This opportunity was designed to help Traffic Man­agement Centers identify current levels of weather integration and determine a strategy for expanding the role that weather plays in roadway management and congestion reduction. In 2010, an Implementation Plan was developed based on six high level needs that had been identified to achieve Scout’s goal to include weather into the Traffic Management Center advisory and control efforts. In 2011, the plan was used and includes six target goals: • Disseminate weather information to a larger set of stakeholders and users in the region • Provide better enroute information on weather conditions to aid travelers in decision making • Develop and implement clear, written policies and procedures for handling weather events • Improve the timeliness of weather management response including deployment of field personnel and equipment • Assist in interpreting weather information and how best to adjust operations in light of that information • Provide better real-time information on road conditions during weather events To date, Scout has integrated a direct National Weather Service feed of severe weather advisories and warnings into its software system to automatically alert operators when an event is forecasted. This “push to the desktop” integration relieves the operators from having to maintain separate Internet Explorer windows for reactive tracking of changing weather conditions. Weather events can now be monitored and updated with the same level of effort as any traffic or road­work incident. DMS message boards can be activated in a timely manner and are structured within a messaging hierarchy that allows incident information to take precedence when necessary, with an automatic return to the weather advisory message once that incident has cleared. In addition, Scout can now track and measure impacts of weather messaging on a real-time basis to determine if advisory messages are being heeded by the motoring public and altering driving behavior to reduce collisions, slide-offs and other preventable traffic impacts. Having weather integrated into Scout’s operational plan is another way of utilizing technology to keep the motoring public safe and informed while reducing the impact of deteriorating road conditions during severe weather events.