Helping to build the
transportation system of the future

The Virtual Coordination Center: Enabling Integrated Corridor Management

Managing the region transportation system— particularly during major roadway incidents — is a complex, multi-agency responsibility involving state and local transportation agencies, transit providers, law enforcement, and emergency responders. Currently, siloed information systems and legacy communication channels limit agencies’ ability to provide an effective, coordinated response that fully leverages the region’s collective resources and capabilities. Agencies often wait for information before they can act and have little visibility into each other’s decisions. The traveling public is often confused by missing, out-of-date, or conflicting traveler information.

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and its partners have submitted a proposal to the Federal Highways Administration for funding to deploy a cloud-based Virtual Coordination Center (VCC) to enable real-time data sharing and coordinated response to quickly clear roadway incidents and reduce congestion.

The VCC will pull in real-time data from seven public agencies responsible for transportation management in the greater Seattle area. The data will be shared in a common dashboard that will allow responders across all agencies to see incidents as they happen, make more informed decisions, collaborate in real time to coordinate response and distribute a unified public message. By creating a robust pool of shared data, the VCC will also harness advances in data analytics, machine learning, and predictive modeling to improve regional planning and operations. The VCC is critical to enhancing regional mobility and safety and is supported by leadership from WSDOT, Washington State Patrol, Seattle Department of Transportation, Seattle Police Department, Seattle Fire Department, King County Metro Transit, and Sound Transit. In 2018, these agency leaders executed a charter establishing the Seattle Area Joint Operations Group, committing to work together to advance the VCC.

Facilitated by the University of Washington Center for Collaborative Systems for Security, Safety & Regional Resilience, critical user-focused design work is complete. Now technology partners and agency stakeholders are working to develop, operationalize, evaluate and implement the VCC to ongoing operational status.

Preliminary Visual representation developed for VCC Dashboard

Develop: the team will use a participatory, iterative process to deliver the technological capabilities that have been identified by regional mobility managers. In addition, this process will achieve community adoption, buy-in, use, and ownership of the VCC.

Operationalize: Regional mobility managers will use the VCC capabilities within the context of a shared concept of operations. These operational plans will clarify how operators from multiple agencies, working together within the VCC, will leverage the region’s assets - smart signals, transit vehicles and routes, ramp meters, electronic messaging, text alerts, incident response units, traffic officers - to keep the region moving. In addition, detailed governance agreements among State, city, and county leadership will provide joint governance of the VCC and address policy issues, such as data security and privacy. These elements of the VCC will provide real-time information about a specific incident on or off the roadway that is affecting traffic. Data from multiple Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) sources will be integrated and combined with information from first responders at the scene to provide all agencies with map-based situational awareness of the incident and response as it unfolds. An alert system will quickly ensure all key agencies are notified of incidents and their potential impact on operations.

Evaluate and Implement: The team will formally evaluate the use of VCC capabilities to meet the goals of improved agency coordination, congestion management, and responder and public safety. The team will complete all activities (contractual, funding, maintenance) necessary to transition the VCC to permanent operational status by the “go-live date.” The team will also begin the process of expanding the VCC to serve other regions across Washington state and the nation.

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