Smarter Work Zones are EASY

Thats right. The funding is there for you. Heres how easy it can be.

1. PCMS for Smarter Work Zones are just PCMS

They are the same PCMS you spec in for any construction project. There is nothing special about them. They need to be NTCIP, a standard protocol, and they need to have cellular modems. Thats it. They are a commodity, and you likely already know how much they typically rent for in your State/District/Region from your backpage pricing or past bid tabs. Just spec them in with cellular modems if you don't already, and tell the contractor where to place them. Including them as part of the smart work zone "system" is just asking to pay more.

2. Get some Sensors

Sensors are what scare a lot of people. They're seen as "expensive" and "finicky" and "you need a laptop to configure them". Even worse, they are outside the wheelhouse of most local traffic control contractors, which means they'll need to bring in some outside expertise, thereby adding cost. While all of that is true for some sensors, but unless you're doing a volume count study, you don't need those kind of sensors. Just use dopplers, which anyone can deploy with ease. Every type of Smarter Work Zone uses speed as the mechanism to determine congestion - dynamic merge, travel times, alternate routes, and queue warning systems. All use speed and only speed. So why pay more for data that is not needed? If you'd like volume, classification, and occupancy data, by all means place a microwave sensor where you need to do your traffic study - they're great for this application. But when it comes to the "heavy lifting" of running a smart work zone, dopplers are the tried and true best option and also the most cost effective.

Heres a run down of sensor costs across the country, averaged across 2014 and 2015:

Looks to me like Oklahoma is getting a great deal. Fun fact, Oklahoma has been using dopplers for their ~5-10 smart work zones they do each year and their systems work great. Oklahoma's efficiency and low cost smart work zones are another post, but suffice to say they are doing a lot of things right.

Though not always an option, the most cost-effective way is to use existing sensors you already have installed. Your permanent ITS can become work zone ITS by having your software vendor utilize the public output feeds your ATMS already has and only supplement with temporary sensors as needed.

3. Know who to call for software.

Arguably the most important component of the smart work zone is the software that ties everything together. This is what aggregates the individual pieces of field hardware and turns it into a cohesive and valuable system. Pricing from some software vendors is low enough to qualify as a micro-purchase transaction, meaning you don't need to go through the lengthy change-order process and potentially be taken advantage of. Of course it is my hope you'd call us.

4. (Optional) Funding is available!

The Every Day Counts initiative, the AID grant system, and the SWZ deployment initiative are all great sources just waiting to fund smart work zones in the US. The EDC in particular is on a march to have every state try smart work zones.

Thats it. Easy.