Road Network Operations
& Intelligent Transport Systems
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Information Exchange

Information transmitted must be adapted to the expectations of recipients so it can be used effectively. The information must be clear, understandable and useful to end users. Information that reaches its recipient is the end result of any initiative that answers the following questions:

Is the information accurate? The facts to be conveyed must be accurate or all credibility with partners/users will be lost.

Why provide information? Dissemination of information reflects intent by a operator that must be specifically defined – for example:

  • to provide the recipient with necessary or useful information
  • to elicit from the recipient an action that will be useful to the operator himself
  • to modify driver behaviour, promote safety, prevent or minimise operating problems and give drivers a sense that they are taken into consideration

Who should be informed? The targets for information may be police forces, other road operators, local or national media and the road users themselves. Who should be informaed will vary acording to:

  • the characteristics of the situation (circumstances such as the nature, gravity, location, context, anticipated length of current disruptions, and the timeline of planned events) 
  • the network operator’s intention  – in answer to the question "Why porvide the information?"

When should information be provided?  Information about a current event is of interest to a recipient/users only if the users have it in real time. Choosing the right time to send information about a planned event is not easy. This must be done early enough to allow for a response (especially if the operator expects cooperation from partners) but not so soon that it will be forgotten.

Where should information be provided? The destination of information (for example at a control centre, TV and radio stations, emergency servcies or a service provide) is defined by the network operations strategy and will be an integral part of operations planning. (See Planning and Reporting)

How should information be delivered? The information medium (social media, text message, Intenet, telephone, radio, e-mail, VMS’s, leaflets) is also determined by what is most cost-effective and the available resources. (See  Traveller Services)

How should information be presented? Each recipient or group of recipients must receive the information in a personally tailored format. If there is a common language (event nomenclature, location, etc.), a message drafted in technical or even coded terms may be understood by a partner. To be legible by a partner, that message must not be buried in a lot of irrelevant details. For example:

  • traffic forecasts in the form of raw data on flows can be easily interpreted by a freeway operator
  • road users need information that is directly relevant to the route, timing, mode and location to their journeys
  • a message sent to a media outlet must be adapted to the practices of that outlet

Communicating Information

Messages to users must follow the guidelines below:

  • capture the recipients’ interest;
  • use their vocabulary, not operators’ jargon;
  • avoid giving them the impression they are being manipulated;
  • provide explanations wherever feasible;
  • indicate the source of information whenever possible.

It is usually very practical to use forms for exchanging information that has been defined in advance with the partners in question. Where they exist, standards for data exchange should be used.

Communicating is as much of an art as operating the road network. Network operators should:

  • identify staff responsible for presenting information and train them in media operating methods and drafting messages on VMS;
  • canvass at least a few users (not co-workers) to ensure that the planned wording will be clearly understood and will not raise additional questions (VMS message, radio announcement);
  • Make use of communication specialists to design a website or leaflet, for example.

Disseminating information to users entails drawbacks and constraints:

  • the operator needs to monitor the consistency of messages issued consecutively or simultaneously through various media;
  • operators have no control over the final form and timing of release when information is channelled through an intermediary;
  • foreign users may not understand the local language.
Reference sources

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