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Inside this Issue:

Message from the President
ITS Assists in Managing Traffic in Houston Flood

Nominations of ITS Texas Annual Awards Program

Coming Soon!  The ITS Texas Annual Meeting
Is Gigabit Ethernet coming to a traffic signal near you?
Communication Training Seminar
ITS America Call For Presentations and Papers
CITE: Consortium for ITS Training and Education

Want to Submit an Article?

Issue 7          The Newsletter of The Intelligent Transportation Society of Texas 

August 2001


Message from the President

There is a lot going on in the arena of ITS nationally.   At the ITS America Annual Meeting in Miami Beach, Florida, there were eight separate sessions on the National ITS 10-Year Program Plan and Research Agenda.  The development of the ITS Program Plan and Research Agenda is a joint effort of USDOT and ITS America.  As initial deployment of ITS strategies have already demonstrated their value, the ITS Program Plan has two major objectives:

(1)          To state, motivate and explore the premise that investment in ITS research, development and deployment is good policy for both public and private decision-makers.  Such policy will result in substantial savings of lives, time and money; in improved mobility and access to transportation systems; and meaningful improvements in environment quality and energy usage.  It will improve the overall quality of life and enhance customer satisfaction.

(2)          To outline the policy and research activities that need to be undertaken by public agencies at multiple levels, by private industry, by research establishments and by the transportation profession in order to meet the promise of ITS.

We will get additional insight into this important topic at our own Annual Meeting in November.  The preliminary results of the development of this plan can be found on the ITS America web site, http://itsa.org.  ITS America is still accepting comments at this time.

In addition, the USDOT has partnered with a number of associations to host a National Dialogue on Operations.  Traditionally, state DOTs and Metropolitan Planning Organizations have been organized to manage construction projects.  Now that the Interstate System is complete and very few additional lane miles are being added to the highway system, the transportation community must begin to focus much more effort on effectively operating the infrastructure to get the most capacity out of what we have.  This is a fundamental change for many transportation agencies and one which requires a new mind set – managing and operating the existing transportation system so that its performance meets or exceeds customer expectations.   The USDOT held five listening sessions across the country, one of which was held in Dallas in June.  There are still several opportunities to participate in the dialogue either through the National Summit on Operations in Washington, DC in October or through the Electronic National Dialogue.  You can reach the e-dialogue at http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/ND_action_plan/edialogue.htm.   If you haven’t yet had a chance to participate, please consider doing so.  The USDOT would like your input on identifying both barriers and opportunities to enhance the way we manage and operation the Nation’s transportation system.

Hope to see all of you at the ITS Texas Annual Meeting in College Station, November 14 – 16, 2001.

If you have any questions about ITS Texas, please feel free to contact me at TMSAMS@dot.state.tx.us.

Terry Sams

ITS Texas President

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ITS Assists in Managing Traffic in Houston Flood

Now known as the Great Flood of 2001 in the Houston area, Tropical Storm Allison dropped an unprecedented record amount of rainfall on Houston causing homes and businesses near bayous, freeways and even the world renowned Texas Medical Center to flood. The ravages of Tropical Storm Allison and the impact it has had on this region has provided a new sense of awareness to the devastating potential of such a storm, but moreover how vitally important Houston TranStar is to the greater Houston region. Opened in April of 1996, Houston TranStar, the Transportation and Emergency Management center for the greater Houston region, is the only such center of its kind in the nation. Its is a unique partnership comprised of the City of Houston, Harris County, METRO and the State of Texas. Together these agencies combine their resources and expertise to provide a greater level of service to the citizens of the greater Houston region.

For the past 5 years it has functioned quietly in the background providing safe and efficient transportation and emergency management services 24 hours a day 7 days a week. However, during Tropical Storm Allison Houston TranStar played a major role in identifying heavy flooded areas, marshalling resources, communicating with citizens and assisting other local, state and national agencies address the devastation that was Tropical Storm Allison. During Tropical Storm Allison, Houston TranStar served as a one-stop shop for all agencies charged with addressing the demands of the region while ensuring that minimal loss of life and property is achieved. From the Emergency Operations Center housed at Houston TranStar, representatives from various government and private sector agencies served the greater Houston region with diligence, professionalism and an unwavering commitment to ensuring the greater Houston region was informed about and equipped for Tropical Storm Allison.

The mere fact that Houston TranStar was able to communicate with citizens, marshal local, state and national resources and minimize the impact on the region is a true testament to how effective this unique partnership is for the greater Houston region. 

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Nominations of ITS Texas Annual Awards Program

All ITS Texas members are invited to submit nominations for the ITS Texas Annual Awards Program. The awards program will recognize any individual or group (e.g., a city, agency or company) for a project or other contribution in the fields of ITS policy, planning, design, deployment, research or education. The nomination should identify the ITS Texas member making the nomination (name, phone number, and e-mail address), identify the individual or group being nominated, and should describe the unique innovation, distinctive service or outstanding leadership making the nominee worthy of statewide recognition. Members are encouraged to keep nominations brief (200 words or less.) The Awards Committee will evaluate all nominations and select nominees to receive awards. Awards will be presented at the ITS Texas Annual Meeting. Please submit all nominations to Dave Davis (davisd@ci.farmers-branch.tx.us) no later than Friday, October 19, 2001. 

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Coming Soon!  The ITS Texas Annual Meeting

Mark your calendars.  The ITS Texas Annual Meeting is just around the corner.  This year the Annual Meeting will be held November 14-16 in College Station, Texas.  On Wednesday, November 14, Grant Zammit, a ITS Technology Specialist with Southern Resource Center of FHWA will be conducting a one-day workshop entitled "An Introduction to Applying TSIS 5.0."  Technical tours of the TransLink Research Laboratory, the Driving Environment Simulator, and other research facilities will also be available.  The meeting begins Thursday, November 15 at 8:00 a.m. in the George Bush Conference Center with the Products Show followed by the the Opening / Plenary Session which features Mr. Larry Yermack, Chair of ITS America, and Ms. Shelley Row with FHWA speaking on ITS in America:  A National Perspective.  Immediately thereafter is the Kickoff Luncheon at noon with the technical sessions resuming on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning and covering the following topics:

A reception is planned for Thursday evening from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in the Rotunda of the George Bush Presidential Library.  The meeting concludes on Friday, November 16 with the annual Business and Awards Luncheon.  

Don't miss the chance to learn more about the ITS activities occurring in the state, renew old friendships, learn about new products, and have just plain old FUN!!!

All Registration will be on-line, so keep watching the ITS Texas Web Page for registration and other information.

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Is Gigabit Ethernet coming to a traffic signal near you?

A new high-speed communications network, commonly referred to as Gigabit Ethernet or GigE is taking shape in College Station, Texas.   The network will be capable of supporting more than 200 live-motion camera feeds at the same time.  GigE is the next generation of the computer network that runs in most office buildings today.  Fully standards compliant, and with a capacity a hundred times greater the most current networks, the solution is scalable, easily managed, and highly cost effective.  It is believed that this is the first roadside implementation of Gigabit Ethernet for a traffic operations capability in Texas.

The key to reducing costs for this solution is embracing standard communication technologies and migrating away from more proprietary solutions.  Although GigE is an emerging solution for traffic applications, it has seen substantial implementation by firms in other market sectors looking for high-bandwidth communications solutions. 

Faced with a need for a scalable communications system for a project need, the City of College Station  and the Texas Transportation Institute examined several solutions for a variety of factors, including ultimate capability, ease of management, security, interoperability, cost, standards compliance, and the ability to build out the system over time.  Solutions that were considered included, among others,  Sonet, FDDI, ATM, and various types of Ethernet.  From a traffic applications standpoint, Gigabit Ethernet was the leader in virtually every decision category.  The fact that an ever-increasing number of traffic vendors are supporting Ethernet communications is further testament to the long-term viability of this solution. 

When the Phase I build out is complete in December of this year, the network will connect multiple signalized intersections along a several mile stretch of roadway in College Station, Texas.  Multiple devices including video cameras and data acquisition computers will use the network for their communications needs.  The system is fully scalable to additional roadways as funding becomes available in future phases of the project.

The impetus for this network is the College Station Integration Project, a three-year effort aimed at improving transportation system operations and management near an active rail corridor, the focus of the project is on integrating information on rail movements with emergency services providers.  Application is also provided for improving the safety and coordination of traffic signal and pedestrian activities when a train event is in progress.

For more information about this Gigabit Ethernet system, contact Robert Brydia with the Texas Transportation Institute at (979) 845-8140 or r-brydia@tamu.edu.

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Communication Training Seminar 

ITS Texas is sponsoring a training seminar on Fiber Optic Basics and Wireless Communication such as CDPD.  The course will be on September 28 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the TxDOT TransVISION training facility in Fort Worth, TX.  The cost for this course will be $25 for members and $35 for non-members.   The course provides a brief introduction to fiber optics and wireless communication and is ideal for traffic engineers and technicians with limited experience in fiber optics and wireless communications.   The topics to be covered in the course are as follows:

Session A: Fiber Basics

Part 1.  Basic fiber.  Principles, connectors, single and multi-mode

·         Splicing methods and connections

·         Care of fiber, basics for handling in rooms, buildings, conduit, traffic equipment cabinets

·         Test equipment, common devices, costs, what an agency should own: OTDR’s, light meters, fault finders, etc.

·          Loss Budget for design.

  Part 2.  Basic fiber

·         Architecture

·         Devices: modems and components for a working system

Part 3.  Application and Use

·         Moving video around your WAN-city-state

·         How communication format impacts traffic systems, i.e. proprietary JPEG, MPEG 1/2  

·         Two basic systems

·         Fiber from traffic center to field device, one point to many points

·         Fiber from traffic center to traffic center

·         Agency options: install-operate-maintain or lease.

·         Sample device connection, hybrid systems.

 Session B: Wireless communication opportunities

·         Introduction to CDPD and comparison to other wireless options

·         Application to transportation for device to center

·         Occasional communication: school flashers, DMS signs…

·         Real-time intensive communication: traffic signals

Course announcements will be issued by email soon.  For more information on the course, contact Russ Wiles with the City of Fort Worth at  WilesR@ci.fort-worth.tx.us or at 817-871-7978.

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ITS America Call For Presentations and Papers

ITS America’s 12th Annual Meeting and Exposition is scheduled for April 29 – May 2, 2002 and will be held at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, California

ITS America invites you to submit presentations or papers to be considered for publication and/or formal presentation.  Recognizing that the pace of intelligent transportation systems technology development and deployment is accelerating, presentations as well as formal, in-depth papers will be accepted for consideration.  Papers and presentations should discuss and explore recent, significant and quantifiable ITS initiatives, technological developments or deployments in one of the following topic areas: 

 Suggested Subject Areas include:

Submission Deadline is August 24, 2001.  Submit 1) six paper copies of your paper, and 2) an electronic version on diskette.  If accepted, a final version will be due on January 25, 2002.  Format:   Papers should be double-spaced, single-sided, left-justified in 12-point Times New Roman font.  While there is no page minimum, please write succinctly.

For questions, contact the ITS America Meetings Department at 202-484-4847 or sfitzgerald@itsa.org. 

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CITE: Consortium for ITS Training and Education

CITE is a unique organization of universities, associations and private sector members focused on providing comprehensive ITS training and education.  CITE has developed a number of interactive web-based courses geared to graduate students and current professionals who wish to enhance their knowledge and skills in ITS.  Graduate level for-credit courses developed by CITE are offered through CITE member universities.  Training courses for continuing education units are available directly through CITE.

CITE is offering all ITS America State Chapters and their members a 25% discount on all courses.  This is a great benefit that State Chapters can offer their members.  When registering for the course, chapter members just need to provide the name of their employer and the Chapter that their employer has joined.

Outlines and more information on all of CITE’s courses can be found at http://www.citeconsortium.org/ or contact Kathy Frankle at 410-414-2925 or via e-mail at kfrankle@chesapeake.net.

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Want to Submit an Article?

To submit an article for consideration to be included in the next ITS Texas Newsletter, please send your article to Kevin Balke at k-balke@tamu.edu or call at (979)845-9899.

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