Traffic Control Centres (TCCs) are directly or indirectly involved in most RNO operating strategies to some extent. For example TCC managers and operators can use Advanced Travel Information Systems (ATIS) to help mitigate the impact of non-recurring congestion in various ways. The objective is to deliver an as near as possible congestion-free network through the use of direct control measures and maximising the dissemination of traveller information using all available channels, particularly VMS, telephone information services (511 in USA), Highway Advisory Radio, internet web sites and social media. (See Traveller Services)
Traffic Control Centres (TCCs) are known by different names in different regions of the world. Even in Europe, where the term TCC is common, some cities also have multi-modal Travel Information Centres (TICs). Some of the core activities for a TCC are to issue traffic information, which makes the term confusing.
In North America and Australia the term Transportation (or Traffic) Management Centre (TMC) is commonly used. Some USA centres and most in South America are called Traffic Operations Centres (TOCs). In the USA, “traffic control centre” is often used for (usually local) centralised traffic signal system control centres.
To avoid confusion, this website uses TCC to cover all such centres, unless otherwise stated.
The primary focus of many TCCs tends to be on supporting traffic management activities on major roadways, including incident response. While this may remain their primary function, a growing number of centres are finding ways to interact, share information and collaborate with partners in the overall management of the road system. Snowplough and ice mitigation operations are examples.
One of the key elements in planning for Road Network Operations is to ensure the successful design, implementation, operation and maintenance of the Traffic Control Centres (TCCs). This planning should be based on completed ITS studies and initiatives for the region such as a regional ITS architecture, strategic deployment plan, a “Concept of Operations” for the TCC – and operations and management plans. (See How to Create an Architecture)
The Concept of Operations for a TCC is a high-level description of system capabilities that are based on a vision, goals, identified needs and high-level requirements that are mutually agreed between the leading stakeholders. This forms the basis for defining the detailed requirements and for producing a high-level design. The Concept of Operations will also identify other major stakeholders, planned network coverage and operating hours and required resources (for example, hardware, software, facilities and personnel).
Guidance on how to develop the Concept of Operations for a TCC has been prepared by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in the USA (see below). A Concept of Operations document will form a solid basis for establishing TCC operations and maintenance procedures, acquiring and utilising resources and interfacing with TCC stakeholders. The stakeholders include other public entities, private-sector companies, the general public and the media.
A video depicting various scenarios in a futuristic TCC, the TMC of the Future, can be accessed in ITS America's Knowledge Centre under "Featured Videos" at http://itsa.org/knowledgecenter/knowledge-center-20.
The video runs for about 45 minutes. It was produced by the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITSA) for the 2008 ITS World Congress in New York City. Using actors, various traffic and incident scenarios were “performed” to live audiences. The TCC featured the more advanced features of a modern TCC and stressed the interagency activities in response to the “incidents” occurring. This video captures one performance.
It features the future use of what in 2008 was called "Vehicle-Infrastructure Integration (VII)" – but is now referred to as "connected vehicles" in the USA and “Cooperative Vehicle Highway Systems (CVHS)” elsewhere. The CVHS programme globally is still largely in the Research and Development (R&D) stage, so its use in the TCC is largely futuristic, although one of the key elements is the use of Floating Vehicle Data for traffic flow characteristics, which is becoming commonplace (See Probe Vehicle Monitoring and Probe Data).
The video shows this TCC also operates traffic signals on the arterial network and Integrated Corridor Management - which are increasingly being implemented across the world. It also addresses integration with other transport modes and services, such as public transport and parking and congestion pricing.