5.3.1 Operations and Maintenance – A National Problem
It is the CSC/PBFI Team’s position, and increasingly it is the position of traffic management practitioners nationally, that the biggest problem facing those who own and operate systems is that of adequately providing funding for O&M support. While government agencies routinely commit major funding programs to the design, development, and installation of traffic signal, freeway management, and other specialized ITS applications, few agencies have committed the funding required to maintain those systems in high states of readiness for the long term. The CSC/PBFI Team has carefully evaluated the situation for MDSHA, and has identified several approaches to long-term Operations and Maintenance that it feels will suit MDSHA’s needs well.
As noted above, the insufficiency of funding and support for O&M is a national problem. This is the case for a variety of reasons, including:
New Operational Skills Required. The technologies applied to modern ITS systems are new and unique, and therefore there is not a reliable "learning curve" for agencies to rely upon as guidance in making O&M decisions. ITS applications include both systems and physical infrastructure facilities, and are therefore hybrids of things government is experienced in owning and other things which are new to government. MDSHA has an advantage in this respect having developed the existing CHART system. Considerable experience exists to guide the CHART II development and deployment.
Staffing & Procurement Policies. When procuring the resurfacing of a major roadway, government agencies have a long history of how to design, contract, and maintain the physical facilities. Sophisticated information processing system such as CHART and CHART II require a more flexible procurement policy because of the constant evolution of requirements and technology. The CSC/PBFI Team has the experience to provide guidance to MDSHA in the methodologies that will minimize future maintenance concerns.
- Evolving Technologies. One of the greatest challenges of dealing with today’s advanced traffic management systems is the pace of change with new technologies, particularly those dealing with communications, surveillance, and information processing. The CSC/PBFI Team proposes comprehensive configuration management to address this issue. Our open system design and architecture will be compatible with evolving technologies allowing future enhancements to be incorporated in a less disruptive manner.
Based on the information gathered to date the CSC/PBFI Team has taken the O&M issues into account in the overall system design. The team also feels that since the MDSHA has identified in its RFP a flexible approach to dealing with the challenge, continual evaluation of the several alternative approaches in seeking a solution to the challenge should be done throughout the project. From the team’s perspective, therefore, the key to success is to work with MDSHA to identify approaches that directly addresses each unique challenge that is presented as the system evolves.