First publishedin ITS International
Integrated corridor management requires careful coordination of many agencies
Coordination is the key to successful integrated corridor management, argues Telegra’s chief operating officer, Branko Glad.
The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) has calculated that in 2013, traffic congestion cost American citizens $124 billion ($78 billion of wasted time and fuel and $45 billion in indirect losses). In 2030 this figure is predicted to rise to $186 billion.
Integrated Corridor Management (ICM) is an organisational and technological concept introduced by the Federal Highway Administration and the US Department of Transportation to fight these losses.
The US Department of Transportation defines Integrated Corridor Management (ICM) as ‘an approach to improving transportation by taking all elements in a corridor, including highways, arterial roads, and transit systems into account.
ICM is the operational coordination of multiple transportation networks and cross network connections comprising a corridor and the institutional coordination of those agencies and entities responsible for corridor mobility.
It will transform the way transportation networks are managed within a corridor, enabling agencies to see the overall impact of multimodal transportation network management decisions and to optimise the movement of people and goods within the corridor instead of just on individual networks.’
ICM is a complex concept which involves multiple local and state transportation agencies, with different jurisdictions and policies.
These agencies have certain traffic needs and expectations in different regular and incidental situations, all wanting to prevent or minimise congestion and quickly clear any traffic interruptions. Their needs and expectations of the ICM system are set down in the Concept of Operations and System Requirements. Experience teaches us that at this level the concept and specifications – the user requirements - should be clearly and transparently defined by the agencies.
The Concept of Operations and System Requirements are implemented through the ICM software system (ICMSS) used by the agencies’ operating personnel to keep the corridor traffic as efficient and harmonised as possible. This is accomplished by supervising the traffic, weather situation and other relevant conditions through a fully integrated and automated graphical user interface that represents the corridor network. In the event of a problem (incident or traffic disturbance), the operator responds by choosing from the suggested automated management strategies. Before implementing the selected strategy, the operator can also simulate various strategies and see the possible outcomes of each. After implementing the best strategies and response plans, the system gives the operators a live feedback on the efficiency of the strategy, allowing them to continuously check if better alternatives could be implemented.
A key part of ICMSS is the Decision Support System (DSS). DSS assists operators in choosing the right strategies, simulates their outcome in real-time, and transfers operating commands to different sub-systems on the corridor, including Advanced Traffic Management Systems (ATMS) and Traffic Signal Systems (TSS), which are handled by different agencies.
So far, only a couple of ICM systems have been implemented as pilot projects, and the technical implementation of ICMSS is still not standardised. With each pilot project providing different lessons learned, there is no clear picture of technological options for implementing ICMSS. Therefore, new pilot projects are still being implemented to help new and different technological options.
Agencies know what they want ICM to achieve but they still don’t know the optimal technology for efficiently operating ICM, in real-time, in the simplest and the most uniform way.
The main purpose of ICMSS is to support the complex concept of integrated traffic management on a corridor and the implementation of that concept faces various communication and organisational challenges. DSS is the key component in resolving those challenges.
Currently, there are still technological hurdles to overcome in developing the technical specifications for ICMSS and DSS. Here are some examples:
- The quality of data. What data should be available to DSS, and what is the minimum quality of this data for plausible real-time simulations? As the data is collected at both ATMS and TSS level, and DSS performs online simulation with this data, DSS must be able to compensate for the difference between the available data and the minimum required for simulation.
- Implementing and tracking a strategic execution throughout a multi-hierarchical, multi-jurisdictional set of ATMS and TSS systems controlled by various agencies throughout the corridor. The ICM initiates strategies but does not have the jurisdiction to manage traffic and thereby implement or execute those strategies at the local ATMS and TSS level. The million dollar question is how to implement, track and operationalise the local ATMS and TSS with the ICM.
- Persuading travellers to reroute. Variable message signs (VMS) alone will not influence all travellers to follow the ICM rerouting strategies. However, for ICM strategies to be effective, each vehicle has to be dynamically rerouted following certain rerouting algorithms with controllable weightings. How this can be achieved most efficiently with the technology available today will be another significant factor.
The success of the ICM concept will be proportional to the level of determination of all of the participating agencies, the quality of incident management strategies and the efficiency of ICMSS implementation – particularly the DSS.
Convincing travellers to reroute is critical for effective ICM and will take more than variable message signs alone.
Since integrated corridor management happens in real time, the speed, precision and reaction synchronisation between all institutional and technological components of the system will determine the difference between the concept’s success or failure. ICM DSS is the technological component that defines that speed, precision and synchronisation.
ATMS software is designed for controlling the road traffic management system elements (traffic detectors, DMS, weather sensors, traffic lights….). However, on top of the ATMS functionalities, the ICMSS must also support:
- Integration of all transportation modes (including personal vehicles, public transport, light rail and parking capacities) related to the movement of travellers in the corridor
- Connect and coordinate various services and institutions involved in traffic and incident management processes (such as 511 (road weather information), police, state patrol, first responders and fire department.)
To achieve this, the ICM software system must support complex operational processes during the execution of management strategies defined by the ICM’s Concept of Operations.
In other words, the ATMS software only operates the traffic management systems, while the ICMSS needs to manage multiple parallel complex processes – which is the foundation of Integrated Corridor Management.
Some of these ICMSS functions (including process management in a multi-hierarchical and a multi-jurisdictional environment, interactive rule-based traffic irregularities detection, and a real-time simulation evaluator) are completely new categories in traffic management technologies, not found in ATMS. Thus, the ICMSS software requires a powerful platform, bringing a new dimension of management and coordination, capable of handling multiple simultaneous processes at different levels, while, at all times, making it easy to use for operators.
ICM is a concept that offers the potential to effectively utilise ITS infrastructure and have a greater impact on traffic flow than any other ITS management concept.
The operational efficiency of ICM will depend on the level of involvement of all agencies included in the corridor and the quality of the system design. But, ultimately, its success will depend on the ICM Software System’s ability to implement all the processes together with the Decision Support System – the very heart of ICM.
The software platform on which ICMSS and DSS are built must be tailored to the operational processes (such as traffic management, emergency plan executions, informing the public and dissemination of information for travellers) of all the agencies involved.
As the successful implementation of an ICM is highly dependent on the ICMSS and DSS software used, the choice of software platform on which the system will be built is crucial. However, a complex software platform of this magnitude cannot be built from scratch for a single project as it requires years of research and development and a level of investment that vastly surpasses the budget of any single project. With ICM still in its infancy, all such software platforms will be new but should be based on existing software platforms and validated on similar hierarchical traffic management system concepts.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Branko Glad is chief operating officer of Croatia-based ITS hardware and software specialist Telegra.