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43 to deliver traveler information. However, responders indi- challenge, especially considering inclement weather. cated that a larger challenge is funding to purchase or deploy However, because field devices are often used for other existing technologies. Also, based on the comments added purposes beyond traveler information (e.g., loop detec- by responders, public agencies are challenged by rapidly tors are also used for ramp meter control and long-term changing technologies and the need to "keep up" with new data collection for planning purposes), the maintenance trends. costs are often shared or deferred by other projects. Maintenance of the traveler information system Technologies used for 511 phone systems to answer calls hardware and software. This includes the hardware automatically, support voice recognition, and deliver infor- and software that collectively operate the information mation using a quality voice product require considerable assembly and dissemination portions of the system. costs, in addition to the telecommunications charges of long Warranties on hardware and "off-the-shelf" products distance and phone port use. often help defer these costs. However, regular mainte- nance and replacement of equipment is necessary. One Part of the problem posed by technology changes is the challenge is the availability of funding to build sys- traveling public's interest and demand for services that match tems compared with the common lack of funding for their latest technologies. According to the Pew Internet and ongoing maintenance. Some agencies find it is easier to American Life Project (2008): acquire funds during the design and build phase of the project (e.g., more sources of funding can be used for 58% of adult Americans have used a cell phone or PDA building systems than for maintaining systems). to do at least one of ten mobile nonvoice data activities, Maintaining the systems at the current state of the such as texting, e-mailing, taking a picture, looking for art. One aspect regarding traveler information main- maps or directions, or recording video. tenance is the need for periodic updates to the systems 41% of adult Americans have logged onto the Internet as travelers' expectations change based on the state-of- as they travel--that is, while away from home or work the-art practices. For example, as travelers have grown with either a wireless laptop connection or a handheld accustomed to high-quality full-zoom maps, they now device. expect such enhancements on traveler information system map displays. Similarly, as the number of web- With a population that is increasingly comfortable with enabled mobile devices has increased, travelers now accessing data "on the go," it is not surprising that the demand access from mobile devices. Another form of demand for mobile and personalized access to traveler infor- maintenance is the need to maintain compatibility with mation is increasing. current Internet browsers and related Internet software. For example, a new version of Java software may cause With advances in technology, there are also benefits to older web systems to malfunction with newer versions public agencies operating traveler information systems. In of browsers. Therefore, even the most well-designed recent years, a number of systems have migrated to the use traveler information system should plan for periodic of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technologies for han- upgrades and enhancements as part of the maintenance dling 511 phone costs. Feedback from systems administra- of the system. tors in California alone has suggested annual savings of 511 Maintenance of manual data entry and reporting. call costs of several hundred thousand dollars each year. Finally, maintenance of traveler information systems must include regular maintenance of the reporting In addition, information dissemination (both Internet and procedures and training aspects that result in the data 511 phone delivery) reduce the manual operations that pre- being entered properly into the entry systems. Without viously were required to answer and respond to calls from regular review of these agreements, even properly travelers. functioning hardware and software will no longer pro- duce quality information delivery, if the manual data System Maintenance Challenges Facing Public entry is no longer adequate. Agencies The maintenance and upkeep of traveler information sys- Examples Of Cost-Sharing Business Models tems is another challenge facing information providers. Maintenance of traveler information systems can be catego- This study has identified several examples of business mod- rized as follows: els that either are being attempted or are successfully in operation. These examples were selected to present some Maintenance of field devices (e.g., data collection examples of different business model approaches and are not devices). Maintenance of any device in the field is a an exhaustive list of business models.

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44 Jacksonville, Florida, Traveler Information Business Based on discussions with ODOT, the relationship is Model beneficial. The system generates approximately $15,000 per year in revenue to ODOT (approximately 20% to 25% of FDOT operates a traveler information system in and around the gross revenue generated by advertising sales for Trip- the Jacksonville, Florida, area. The business model for the Check spots) to help offset some portion of the TripCheck traveler information system is based on a public coalition operating costs. The placement of the traveler services is of local agencies that includes FDOT, the local law enforce- on a portion of the TripCheck site called Travel Services. ment, the Florida Highway Patrol, the Jacksonville Met- Users who select Travel Services view a map with icons ropolitan Planning Organization, and the local city traffic allowing them to click metropolitan areas and view details engineer's office. Currently, the systems interconnect to of services offered by paying supporters. Therefore, it is not the extent possible; therefore, all agencies are aware of the banner advertising, but rather geographic representations of activities and operations of the other agencies. The coali- services for travelers, who may then access details about the tion is in the process of designing a new facility that will hotel, restaurant, or gas station. house law enforcement, transit, the city of Jacksonville traffic office, and emergency (fire and rescue) response, ODOT estimates that the number of website visitors access- and that will be interconnected with the Jacksonville air- ing the Travel Services averages about 14,400 visits per month, port authority. with the maximum monthly visits being in January (43,000 visits in January 2008) and the minimum monthly visits being The business model for traveler information is based on in April (7,000 visits in April 2008) (McGill 2008). assembly of all information to one location and the operation of one central traveler information system. Traveler informa- A challenge to this business model is that the information tion 511 systems (phone and web) are used to disseminate available in the Travel Services portion of TripCheck is lim- information such as traffic speeds, incidents, airport infor- ited to the number of businesses who are paying customers. mation, transit information, construction, and congestion. Therefore, the site does not offer as comprehensive a set of At this time, the coalition is not seeking any form of rev- travel services as other private sites would offer. The benefits enue generation for traveler information services; however, of this business model is that ODOT does not have to per- the economies of scale of centralizing all information has form any advertising sales or customer relations and account allowed them to operate a successful traveler information collections, because all account relations are performed by system. The variety of information has helped them estab- the Oregon TIC in a role they were already performing for lish a good relationship with the media, including consider- the Interstate logo sign sales. able airtime announcing the 511 phone system. St. Louis, Missouri, Example of Privately Operated Oregon Department of Transportation/Travel Traveler Information System Information Council Business Model Another example of a unique and successful business model ODOT operates the statewide traveler information system for traveler information operations is the Missouri DOT (commonly branded as TripCheck). In Oregon, another pub- (MoDOT) approach to traveler information. MoDOT has lic agency called the Oregon Travel Information Council partnered with a private sector company (Traffic.com) to (TIC) is responsible for maintaining highway traveler infor- provide traveler information services. Under this arrange- mation signs (e.g., Interstate logo signs describing services ment, Traffic.com operates the 511 phone system as well as at the exits), rest areas, and welcome centers. Beginning in a traveler information website branded as the Gateway Guide 2000, ODOT and the Oregon TIC began to cooperate and website used by MoDOT. Traffic.com operates this service have since developed a partnership in which customers of without any operating costs to MoDOT. The services offered the Oregon TIC can advertise their hotel, restaurant, or gas by Traffic.com are similar to traveler information services station on a special travel services portion of the ODOT operated in other cities throughout the United States (and TripCheck website. include personalized information delivery and alerts and notices of incidents); however, in St. Louis, callers dial- The advantage to this business model is that the Oregon ing the three-digit 511 number are connected directly to the TIC has a network of sales staff selling Interstate logo signs Traffic.com operated system. Unlike other 511 phone systems, placements to the businesses and has an established relation- callers to the St. Louis system may hear advertisements or ship with businesses throughout the state. Therefore, busi- sponsorship messages, because these announcements gener- nesses are offered the option to be promoted on TripCheck ate the revenue that allows Traffic.com to sustain the service. for a marginal increase in costs (reported as $150 per year). The St. Louis operation is an example of minimizing direct ODOT receives a portion of the revenue generated by the costs to government agencies and benefiting from the success- Oregon TIC each year by the TripCheck option. ful technical and marketing services of the private sector.