Over the past few years, many transportation agencies have been extensively using RWIS for snow and ice control. These agencies were then facing issues of how best to utilize and integrate their RWIS equipment and the different equipment of their own and other agencies. This equipment could be placed in the same region or be across jurisdictional boundaries.
Because of the proprietary nature of some RWIS information and the inability of different systems to easily exchange information, many agencies found it difficult to exchange information and receive full value from their RWIS investment. An example is in Arizona where there is more than one type of RWIS sensor in the field. This requires each sensor to have its own CPU that functions independently of any others. The ideal was to have all sensors reporting to a single CPU where information can be integrated and processed. The INCH project may address this issue for new equipment, but this project examined how states are integrating existing equipment.
The RWIS Guidance and Reference Document examined best practices and success stories of provinces and states in North America. It looked at innovative approaches to collecting and providing road and weather condition information for diverse users. It focused on how agencies have successfully integrated various weather information sources, both within their jurisdictions and outside. It also discussed how agencies get RWIS information to their maintenance crews, other response agencies and the general public.
This project referenced success stories in a way that helped agencies be able to utilize RWIS equipment and data for multiple purposes.
The goal of RWIS Guidance and Reference Document was accomplished through three tasks. These tasks include literature and Internet review, in-depth interviews and surveys with RWIS developers. It developed the guidance document and distribute it over the Internet and at conferences.
Task 1. Literature and Internet Review
The consultant looked through available RWIS literatures and existing Internet web sites to identify current best practices for integration, data collection, presentation and dissemination. Best practices were defined by complexity, ease of understanding, and agencies’ ability to incorporate information from multiple types of equipment. The purpose was to find solutions for a range of agencies with varying expertise and needs from RWIS.
The review also looked at best practices in disseminating RWIS information to users. It did not focus on display technologies, but in how states have developed simple, automated systems for disseminating RWIS data. It also examined the state of the practice for integration of RWIS with equipment such as dynamic message signs, highway advisory radio, speed warning systems and condition reporting systems (e.g., FORETELL, CARS). Traditionally, it has been difficult to get data to some dissemination systems because each RWIS type is collected and processed by different workstations.
Another aspect of the document review was to identify practices in agencies that share information across jurisdictional boundaries. It also examined how agencies may provide information to the National weather Service. Many agencies struggled with how to easily share essential information and the document will detail how it was done successfully in some areas.
Task 2. In-depth Interviews and Surveys with RWIS Developers
The consultant conducted in-depth interviews and surveys with RWIS developers in states with best practices in order to know about their system and functionality. The surveys focused on identifying the challenges and issues that arose during the development of their RWIS systems.
In particular, this effort examined jurisdictional and proprietary information issues. It examined how some agencies successfully overcame the difficulties in integrating data form different systems.
The surveys and interviews also examined the costs of developing means for exchanging and disseminating information.
Task 3. Develop the Guidance Document
Based on the above review and findings, the consultant developed a reference guide. The RWIS guidance document was targeted at agencies that were developing or expanding their RWIS capabilities. The final document was disseminated in electronic form to the public through the ENTERPRISE web site. It was also made available at conferences and to ENTERPRISE members who would like to share it with other interested agencies.
- A document summarizing the findings about current best practices of RWIS.
- A document summarizing interviews and surveys findings.
- The final report in electronic and paper form