Road Management & Engineering Journal
Road Management & Engineering Journal
December, 1999
TranSafety, Inc.
(360) 683-6276
Fax: (360) 335-6402

Travelers Choose the Best Route Before They Hit the Road

(This article is reproduced, with permission, from the Fall/Winter 1999 Edition of Minnesota Guidestar, a publication of the Minnesota Department of Transportation's Office of Advanced Transportation Systems.)

One goal of the Office of Advanced Transportation Systems is to offer those traveling throughout the State of Minnesota access to information to make decisions about their travel route and mode of choice through a variety of services. Through Advanced Traveler Information Systems (ATIS) technologies and services, travelers can decide how to get to their vacation spot, where to stay, and what sort of traffic they will have along the way.

Travelers in the Twin Cities area have long had a variety of sources for travel information. Now travelers in the rest of the state will have the opportunity to obtain real-time travel information. Travelers will be able to choose travel mode or to select a route before beginning a trip by using real-time traffic, construction, and road surface condition information along with current weather conditions and forecasts. The growth in congestion, the concern about safety on the road, and the emergence and sophistication in communications technology makes for a unique and growing time for ATIS.

OATS is partnering with other Mn/DOT offices and several private traveler information service providers to facilitate ATIS development for Greater Minnesota. Offices within Mn/DOT include the Office of Maintenance, the Office of Electronic Communication, and the Office of Information Resource Management. The Office of Maintenance facilitates road surface data collection and entry. That office also operates a road condition telephone system. The Office of Information Resource management has devised a means for providing road condition information databases that are housed inside Mn/DOT "firewalls" to private information service providers.

OATS has entered into partnerships with the private sector, to provide information through a variety of access types: telephone (cell, land line, pager, push and pull), kiosks, and Internet sites. Two cable television stations in northwest Minnesota are testing the feasibility of providing road condition information via public access channels. Each access type is associated with specific features and targeted at specific customers. In addition, each access type varies by the information available, the geographic area of coverage, the service area, and the access conditions.

The information available through these services includes road conditions, tourist information, current weather, weather forecasts, and maps of areas. Travelers can interactively select specific regions, routes, or interest depending on their trip plans.

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