Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Example of cloud-based software to manage and analyze traffic count data.
Given the importance of vehicle traffic count data to a transportation planner or traffic engineer's business we are constantly amazed that many agencies still rely on paper to manage this vital data.
Traffic count data is omnipresent in the professional life of a traffic engineer. It is used to validate travel demand models. It is used in the design of new roadways and in the upgrade of old roadway and traffic safety improvements. Traffic count data, presented either as raw counts or as annual average daily traffic (AADT), is critical to nearly every program a public sector planner or engineer works on.
So why do so many public sector traffic or transportation agencies continue to rely on paper files or electronic copies in .pdf format? Software that utilizes the best in geographic information systems (GIS) mapping and database features is commercially available as an off-the-shelf (COTS) product.
With the increased popularity of GIS over the past 20-years some agencies have forged ahead and created very functional traffic count layers in their GIS or created powerful databases using MS Access or SQL Server database management systems. But it seems most state and local agencies either don't have the staff experience to use these tools or they don't have the time, money or the focus to create their own traffic count database systems in-house. For these reasons, agencies should take a hard look at vendors who specialize in the design and hosting of COTS traffic count database systems.
MS2, in Ann Arbor, Michigan is a provider of a COTS traffic count database system used by over 200 cities, counties, MPOs and state DOTs. These users started their relationship with MS2 because they were struggling, as many do today, with traffic count data on paper, in .pdf formats or in various spreadsheets or legacy databases spread throughout their office. The MS2 software allows users to upload raw count data from their counters directly into the hosted database. The user can query the database to quickly find answers to questions that would otherwise take hours of shifting through paper to find. Using ArcGIS Server, MS2's software maps all count locations on a Google map. The MS2 software automatically calculates AADTs, filters count data through numerous QA/QC routines, and processes and stores short count data and continuous count data including volume, classification, weigh-in-motion, speed, gap and vehicle length data.
Example of vehicle volume count data tables from MS2’s traffic count database system.
MS2's software is cloud-based. That means MS2 hosts the agency's data in their servers provided by Amazon Web Services. It also means the user does not have to buy new hardware or software to manage traffic count data. As a software-as-a-service, MS2 charges a one-time license fee and an annual support fee. The user can cancel the service and get their data back at any time. In the private sector, according to Gartner, Inc.. "worldwide cloud services revenue is on pace to surpass $56.3 billion in 2009, a 21.3 percent increase from 2008 revenue of $46.4 billion. The market was expected to reach $150.1 billion in 2013." But the public sector appears to be slow in responding to the trend. According to Government Technology, "in state and local government, senior-level managers who aren't in IT are holding the organization back from adopting cloud services."
Whether the transportation agency is a large state DOT, a small city or COG, the use of paper and spreadsheets to manage large volumes of traffic count data is now out of fashion. With the advance of GIS and COTS database management systems, cloud-based software provides a newer more efficient way for traffic engineers to map, manage and analyze vehicle traffic count data.
Contact Lev Wood at (734-995-0200 or firstname.lastname@example.org) .
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