Road Network Operations
& Intelligent Transport Systems
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Traffic Control Centre Functions

A Traffic Control Centre’s functions vary according to which agency operates it. The functional “separations” between motorway and urban network control are not rigid distinctions; and, ideally, the two would merge to enable fully integrated Management and Operations. Some countries, states or regions have moved in this direction, but it can involve considerable effort and expense.

The organisational and operational responsibilities of TCCs for different types of network varies:

  • TCCs for urban networks are typically operated by local governments and public transport companies. Increasingly ITS devices traditionally associated with motorways – such as CCTV and variable message signs – are being deployed. Public transport priority and Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) facilities may be present – in some cases on exclusive lanes or roadways
  • TCCs for regional highway networks are operated by road authorities (national or state agencies) and toll road operators – and tend to focus on managing congestion and incidents and maintaining road safety (for example at work zones)
  • TCCs for secondary inter-urban routes and rural networks are focused strictly on the route itself, for example toll-road operations, with generally no traffic signal operations

There are no clear technology differences between these three groups and they often overlap in function, but the institutional differences are more distinct. Advanced ITS applications provide the means for regional and local TCCs to work together, coordinate activities and share information when the need arises. (See Integrated Operations)

In many countries a growing number of local agencies have, or plan to develop, local fully functional TCCs, which are organised and operated to support the responsibilities of local agencies. On a daily basis this allows each TCC to effectively carry out its core mission.

The various services provided by a TCC can be grouped according to high-level functions, such as those shown in the diagram and described below:

Example of Traffic Control Centre Activities and Services (Source: Highways England UK)

Collection of Network and Traffic Information

The TCC needs decision support information on the network including a database of road network characteristics, information about incidents and other events (roadworks, accidents), traffic flow and journey times, and weather conditions.

This requires the TCC to adopt systems for:

1. the network description and location referencing (See Basic Info-structure)

2. obtaining information about:

  • planned roadworks on the network
  • unplanned events as soon as they occur
  • planned events that will have an impact on traffic conditions, such as major cultural or sporting events
  • planned roadworks on the network

3. continuous monitoring of:

  • traffic conditions
  • weather conditions

(See Data and InformationTraffic & Status Monitoring and Weather Monitoring)

Response to Events

The TCC needs to develop traffic management response plans that support its control strategies and the choice of information to be provided during incidents that affect traffic on the network. When incidents occur the TCC will implement these plans and analyse and update those plans on the basis of experience.

This requires:

  • off-line development of strategic responses
  • on-line selection and implementation of strategic responses
  • off-line evaluation of implemented strategic responses
  • hosting inter-agency Traffic Incident Management Teams

(See Integrated Strategies)

Public Information Services

These are the means by which a TCC provides information to media organisations, road users and the travelling public . They may include providing VMS at key locations on the road network, providing an internet site for public information – and use of social media and an interactive telephone service. 

Specifically the TCC core services will be:

  • provision of information via VMS
  • provision of information to the public via media organisations

(See Travel Information Systems and Traveller Services)

Network Operations Support

These are activities that enable the TCC to provide information and take action that will improve the ability of other organisations (operating partners) to perform their duties in managing the traffic and operations on their networks. The TCC needs to establish links with the traffic controllers for site that generate traffic or are major destinations. Examples might be a ferry port or airport, shipping container terminal, mineral extraction sites, major sports or entertainment centres, retail parks and shopping malls

They include:

  • assistance with planning roadworks, road closures and the movement of abnormal loads
  • the preparation of network management and statistical information
  • assistance to traffic police, emergency services and mobile Safety Service Patrols
  • assistance to other TCCs, passenger transport network operators

(See Planning and Reporting,  Public Transport Operations & Fleet Management and Operations & Fleet Management)

TCC Management Services

Management services relate to the day-to-day operation of the Traffic Control Centre and any additional operations that are required, specifically:

  • staffing, operating and managing the control centre
  • tours, visits and presentations
  • staff training
  • administration of other support services (for example conference room and operations support in emergencies

(See Traffic Control Centre Administration)

Toll Road Operations

For a TCC that covers toll road operations the ITS traffic systems and the electronic tolling systems are usually completely separate. They are not permitted to integrate, at least electronically, to protect the integrity of toll revenues. Toll-road TCCs generally manage incidents in the same way as their non-tolling counterparts. The fact that they operate facilities whose users are paying in real-time increases the pressure to clear incidents quickly. In some locations, such as Santiago, Chile, various toll roads use the same transponders to identify all vehicles passing through the toll gantries.

(See Toll Collection)


Reference sources

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