Planning for Road Network Operations involves consideration of the organisational requirements for the operational activities including preventive actions. Practical constraints (such as inter-agency demarcations) and on-going local factors must be defined together with the supporting information systems and decision-making or control systems that are needed. The success of a plan depends on the distribution of activities between partners and on their full knowledge and understanding of their assigned tasks.
Generally, design procedures require the following:
The lead organisation for traffic management on the network will need a reliable database for preparing, organising, implementing, managing and assessing operations more effectively. This will enable the organisation to become a valuable resource for addressing ad hoc issues concerning the network, the need for studies and for providing statistical material for publications. (See Data Management and Archiving)
This data will be supplemented with:
The tools needed to establish the database are:
The network management database is not static: there will be a continual, on-going requirement for up-dates.
Maintenance of the data files is a meticulous, time-consuming process that demands specific training to achieve the results required. Theoretical knowledge of the network and its environment must be supplemented with hands-on experience and local knowledge. For example, to determine whether a planned detour is realistic, it is necessary to know as accurately as possible the level of traffic on each road segment. Lessons learnt from the analysis and response of actual situations must be factored into establishing response procedures for future events.
The purpose of an events database is to forecast periods when the probability of traffic disruption is high. The task consists of studying the calendar (dates of public holidays, school holidays and major planned sporting, cultural and entertainment events) and comparing it with previous years, comparable past situations and/or weather forecasts.
Implementation involves specific stages:
The task requires painstaking attention to detail in collecting and analysing data, particularly keeping logs. It is vital work and helps improve the management of the road network – thereby decreasing the number of unplanned incident and emergency response situations.
The purpose of a procedures manual is to define the operating actions of all roadway partners and guide their implementation. A procedure manual consists of listing all tasks to be performed and all resources required to carry out the task specified for each event or incident scenario. Procedure manuals can be produced for roadworks, mobile traffic patrols, traffic monitoring and traffic management plans. The production of procedure manuals is a good subject for initiating and fostering cooperation with partners.
The events to be handled and their consequences will sometimes differ slightly from the scenarios studied. Although procedure manuals need to be detailed, they can and should leave room for some initiative by those at whom they are aimed.
Since procedures manuals are tools common to many partners, it is important to ensure that the reference framework and vocabulary are understood by all. The design of manuals that link to various plans – must be consistent and support cross-referencing. They must be periodically updated and the updates to all documents must be distributed. The provision of procedure manuals on-line may be the best way of keeping them current and available.
There is a twofold objective in tracking the performance of the operating measures:
Monitoring methods must be developed to quantify the impact of the measures implemented and detect dysfunctions or serious variance from anticipated results.
This approach relies on information gathering that must be a systematic and a planned part of routine documenting procedure (logs, fact sheets and other reports).
A small number of basic performance indicators must be defined case-by-case and changes tracked over time. To define these indicators without overlooking key points, the following factors can serve as a guide:
The purpose of updating the operating procedures is to plan for, and justify, the resources appropriate to the context. Resources can include hardware, software and documents as well as personnel organisation and training. The context will cover the traffic situation, incident response infrastructure, organisation of other services, user needs and available technologies.
Updating procedures and operating methods extend to physical assets as well as documentation and service organisation. It specifically requires:
This work requires effort that is rarely spontaneous – and ultimately may highlight needs for specific resources (studies and production of documents). The outcome may be elimination of unnecessary or out-dated working methods. It is also fairly common for objectives and strategies that are initially defined – to be revised in light of experience gained.