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Inside this Issue:

Message from the President
Coming Soon!  The ITS Texas Annual Meeting

TRANSGUIDE:  Technology in Motion

ITSA 2002 Annual Meeting a Success
METRORAIL Construction Underway
Communication Seminar
ITS Goes Off-Road
Traffic on Cable TV

Video Over Twisted-Pair:  Experiences in the City of Fort Worth

Automatic Enforcement Update
ITS America 2003:  Call For Presentations and Papers
Nominations of ITS Texas Annual Awards 
Thanks for Your Support!! 

Want to Submit an Article?

Issue 8          The Newsletter of The Intelligent Transportation Society of Texas 

August 2002


Message from the President

The ITS community is having a productive year. In January, ITS America unveiled its "National Intelligent Transportation Systems Program Plan: A Ten-Year Vision," which a product of the national dialogue begun in 2000. Details are available through www.itsa.org. The theme for the 2002 ITS America Annual Meeting, held in Long Beach, CA, from April 29 to May 2 was "Securing our Future" and included former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger and others speaking to ITS and Homeland Security.

Regarding future meetings, 2002 is your opportunity to attend an ITS World Congress without needing a passport. This year it will be in Chicago, IL, October 14-17 (www.itsworldcongress.org).

Closer to home, ITS Texas will be hosting another mid-year telecommunications seminar similar to last September's meeting in Fort Worth. Look for more information on this seminar elsewhere in this newsletter.

At last year's ITS Texas 9th Annual Meeting, we exceeded our goal of 100 paid members and nearly achieved the goal of 150 participants . . . and with round-off error, those 147 participants sure looked like 150 people!

A primary goal this year is to interact to a greater extent with university student groups in Texas. Consequently, I am calling on ITS Texas members to go beyond just a willingness to speak to student chapters. Our next generation of ITS professionals needs us to initiate contact with them. University students are always on the lookout for speakers and for interesting technical tours. Therefore, I ask you to contact me if you can either make yourself available to a student chapter as a speaker or provide them with a tour of an ITS facility/installation/project/etc. I will put you in touch with a student chapter/group; typically, these are at TAMU, UT, UTA, but can also be at TSU, UTEP, UTSA, etc. Just as we recognize the need to plan for future ITS projects, we must also plan for the future ITS professionals. This is your opportunity.

Finally, if you have not yet renewed your membership for this new year, I encourage you to do so early to allow you to receive membership benefits throughout the year. Please check out ITS Texas at itstexas.tamu.edu.

Andy Ballard

ITS Texas President

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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 13-15 in San Antonio, Texas. On Wednesday, November 13, technical tours of the TransGuide operations center and other regional facilities will be available. The meeting begins Thursday, November 14 at 8:00 a.m. at the DoubleTree Airport Hotel with the Exhibit Hall and Products Show followed by the Opening / Plenary Session. Neil Schuster, President and CEO of ITS America will be the keynote speaker at this year's annual meeting. Immediately thereafter is the Kickoff Luncheon at noon with the technical sessions resuming on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning and covering the following topics:

An event for attendees is being planned for Thursday evening. The meeting concludes on Friday, November 15 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!!!

On-line registration and full conference details will be available soon at www.events-made-simple.com/its_meeting.htm.  Keep watching the ITS Texas web page for more information.

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TRANSGUIDE:  Technology in Motion

TransGuide is the Intelligent Transportation System that was designed by the San Antonio District of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).  This "smart highway" system provides information to motorists about traffic conditions, such as accidents, congestion, and construction. With the use of cameras, dynamic message signs and fiber optics, TransGuide can detect travel times and provide that information to motorists, and rapidly responds to accidents and emergencies. TransGuide recently added 7 miles of coverage on IH 37 on the south side of San Antonio. The system currently covers 77 miles and will cover 87 miles by the end of 2002.  Normally, the public gets traffic information by watching the news or listening to the radio before leaving their home or the office.  TransGuide has made receiving traffic information easier than before and all it takes is a television and a computer.  The Low-Power Television Station (UHF Channel 54 and Cable Channel 21) shows live TransGuide live video feeds that the local media broadcasts during newscasts. TransGuide is expanding its video sharing with the media through the implementation of an external access video switch.  This will allow them to choose the camera they want to broadcast during their newscast, especially if there is a major accident or weather related situation.  The TransGuide web site provide traffic information that includes camera images, access to the dynamic message signs, travel speeds, lane closure data and incident data.  Other TransGuide expansion projects in the future include a Highway Advisory Radio and the Center to Center project with other traffic management centers. Partners in the TransGuide project include TxDOT, the City of San Antonio (police/fire/EMS/traffic) and VIA Metropolitan Transit.  To learn more about the TransGuide system, click on www.transguide.dot.state.tx.us.

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ITSA 2002 Annual Meeting a Success 

The ITS America 2002 12th Annual Meeting and Exposition was held at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, California April 29-May 2.  The theme of this year’s meeting was “Securing Our Future”.  Conference highlights include:

Although attendance was down at this year’s meeting, participants experienced over 100 technical presentations, telecommunications training, technical tours and numerous social events including the annual awards banquet and gala.  Numerous task forces, subcommittees and state chapter’s meetings were also part of the busy schedule.  Two other prominent items of discussion were the newly-formed bipartisan ITS Congressional Caucus and the restructuring of ITS America.  Infostructure played a significant role in this year’s meeting with firms like MicroSoft taking a more active and visible role in the proceedings. 

Next year’s meeting will be held May 19 – May 22, 2003 at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  The theme of next year’s meeting is “Real World, Real Results.”

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METRORAIL Construction Underway

Construction of Houston’s first light rail transit project began in April, 2001 and is scheduled to be complete in early 2004.  METRORail is a 7.5-mile rail line that extending from Downtown Houston to south of Reliant Park (Astrodome), linking Downtown with the renowned Texas Medical Center, the Museum District, and the Reliant Park complex.  The train will stop at 16 stations, travels at average speeds of about 18 mph and can move up to 8,000 people an hour.  The rail should eliminate about 1,200 daily bus trips from busy downtown streets.   

The electrically-powered rail shares street right-of-way with vehicles and interfaces with over 100 signalized intersections and pedestrian crossings.  The signal timings have been modified to provide signal priority to the train.  This was accomplished by modeling the rail line using Synchro, Transyt-7f and finally VISSIM, a sophisticated program that incorporates light rail transit and 3-D imaging and downloads signal timings directly into the traffic signal controllers.  METRORail is expecting nearly 40,000 boardings a day.  What currently takes about 45 minutes to drive will be covered by the rail in under 30 minutes, offering patrons ease and comfort on their trip.

For more information, go to www.ridemetro.org.

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Back by Popular Demand!

Communication Seminar

Yes it is back by popular demand and from a limited engagement only -- the Communication Seminar --  September 20, Houston, Texas.   ITS Texas will sponsor a training seminar similar to last fall’s successful event in Fort Worth.  Basic details are:

Cost:                      ITS Texas Members $25, TexITE Members $25, non-members $35

           Lunch and refreshments provided by GDI Communications LLC and ITS Texas.

Location:                Houston County Appraisal District, 2800 North Loop West Houston, Texas.

Date/Time:            Friday Sept 20th. Registration 8:30-9:00am, seminar 9am-4pm.

 

Focus on Technologies in ITS: Communication – Fiber Basics and Wireless

This seminar will present 1) theory of basic fiber technology and practical discussions for use in the transportation industry and 2) a presentation of wireless communication technologies.

For more information regarding the seminar and a registration form, please see the ITS Texas website at http://itstexas.tamu.edu/ or contact Tim Kelly at Metro at tkelly@hou-metro.harris.tx.us (713) 881-3033, Duane Hartmann at PB Farradyne, Hartmann@Pbworld.com (281) 558-7273, or Russ Wiles with the City of Fort Worth at WilesR@ci.fort-worth.tx.us  (817) 871-7978.

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ITS Goes Off-Road 

ITS continues to reach beyond highways and streets, becoming mainstream in many “off-road” facilities such as airports, border crossings, ports and parking facilities.  What were once research and demonstration projects are now core ITS infrastructure for varying transportation facilities.  Just a few of the examples in Texas include:

These “off-road” projects, and others, are successful, cost-effective, yielding significant benefits and are getting the attention of the traditional ITS community.  In many cases, these projects are locally, and even privately, funded.  As ITS continues to evolve, it’s “off-road” influences appear to be growing also.

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Traffic on Cable TV 

The City of Fort Worth began broadcasting live freeway traffic views onto the city’s cable TV municipal access channel in November 2001.  Citizens of Fort Worth that subscribe to local cable TV can tune into views of traffic flow on area freeways from their televisions at home, and also listen to the National Weather Service audio feed as well.  A 10 second view from each of 35 freeway cameras is continuously cycled.  Commuters can check on up-to-the-second status of their route to work.

To make this possible, TxDOT Fort Worth District freeway camera images are sent to the City’s Traffic Management Center over a fiber-optic ATM link.  The images are then forwarded to the City’s cable TV office for insertion into the local programming channel.  The traffic cameras are broadcast daily from 5 am to 8:00 am.

This system is a benefit of the CMAQ grant projects designed to improve traffic flow for the motoring public.  This project was accomplished by the Texas Department of Transportation and the City of Fort Worth.

For additional information, feel free to contact Russ Wiles, City of Fort Worth, 817-871-7978.

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Video Over Twisted-Pair: Experiences in the City of Fort Worth 

The City of Fort Worth recently installed a new traffic camera system in the CBD area.  Five cameras were placed on buildings and traffic signal poles.  The video images and camera control commands transmit over existing spare pairs of traffic signal interconnect cable.

 The system design is based on a June 1999 FHWA report on DSL technologies for ITS.  Each field camera is connected to a CODEC and a DSL modem, then via one pair of twisted-pair inter-connect cable, to a matching CODEC and a 12 port DSLAM (talks up to 12 DSL modems) located in the TMC.  The video is transmitted at about 2Mbps resulting in an excellent color image displayed on monitors in the TMC. 

 The City next plans to install the TxDOT Dallas District’s “TMS Software” to provide one software package to control our new cameras, video switch and ATM switch.

 

For questions, feel free to contact Russ Wiles, ITS Manager, (817) 871-7978 WilesR@ci.fort-worth.tx.us.

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Automatic Enforcement Update

The status in Texas of automated enforcement systems for the much-awaited red light running camera devices and photo radar systems will be in the hands of the 2003 session of the Texas Legislature.  Proponents of automated enforcement systems are watching the November state elections to determine which elected officials will be available for bill support.  After the elections, support and sponsors will be established, a bill hopefully will move through the legislature with sufficient backing, and then be ratified sometime in 2003. The Senate passed a bill 3 sessions ago and last session the house bill ended in a tie vote.

It is desired to modify the state law to allow a civil offense to be established for these types of violations. In February 2002, the Texas Attorney General provided a statement clarifying state law.  His ruling was that agencies can issue criminal rather than civil citations from systems based on automated enforcement.  However, many cities desire a lesser civil offense to be authorized before employing automated enforcement.  A civil citation is an offense similar in charge to a parking ticket and issued to the owner of a vehicle, whereby the driver does not have to be identified.

For additional information, please contact Walter Ragsdale, City of Richardson, 972-744-4320.

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ITS America 2003: Call For Presentations and Papers

ITS America’s 13th Annual Meeting and Exposition is scheduled for May 19-22, 2003 for Minneapolis, Minnesota.  The theme for this year's meeting is "REAL WORLD, REAL RESULTS."  This year's meeting is focused on tangible examples of ITS deployment and ITS America is interested in receiving papers that relate to this them and correspond to one or more of the following topic categories:

While technical and research papers are welcome, submissions do not have to be highly technical in nature.  Paper submissions can be articles or narratives providing lessons learned in the deployment of ITS in an informative and easy to understand manner. 

Submission Deadline is September 17, 2002.  For your convenience, the exclusive way to submit a paper is via the ITS America website (www.ITSA.org).  Click on the ITS America 2003 icon to access Submit Papers Online, where you will find help submission guidelines.  

Questions about the online submission process should be directed to ITS2003@mirad.com.  For program-related questions, contact Tim Diffley at Tdiffly@itsa.org. or at 202-484-4847. 

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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 18, 2002. 

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Thanks for Your Support!! 

The following companies and agencies specifically identified the ITS Texas Chapter as their local chapter affiliate.  This has resulted in a total of $2,400 being returned to the local ITS Chapter to support our local programs.  Thanks for your support.

If you would like to find out more about this program, contact Andy Ballard at andrewb@sanantonio.gov or (210) 733-4540.

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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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