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23 CHAPTER FOUR INSTITUTIONAL ASPECTS INTRODUCTION were available during this time for consultation without addi- tional cost (the costs of these services are usually included in The deployment of an ATCS can be a powerful tool, and it the installation package). The estimated person-hours for the requires an agency's commitment to staffing for operations and initial training might be taken with some reservation because maintenance. ATCSs are often presented as a way to reduce some respondents could not provide an accurate estimate. labor required for repetitive development of signal timing Also, the level of initial training depends largely on users' plans. However, these systems cannot be considered hands- budgets for ATCS deployments and the size of their systems. off types of systems. This chapter identifies institutional requirements for a successful deployment of an ATCS. In In general, approximately 77% of ATCS users stated that addition, the chapter reveals agencies' perceptions on opera- they received adequate training. Of those who believe that tional problems with ATCSs. The final section of the chapter the training was inadequate, 2% reported that the vendor/ provides insight into the way agencies perceive maintenance consultant was not interested in providing the training. of ATCSs. Another 2% reported that the training was too expensive and the costs were the major reason that the agency did not pur- sue the full training. The remaining 19% of the interviewed TRAINING agencies reported that the training was inadequate for other It is critical that an ATCS agency acquire a level of knowl- reasons, which are mostly associated with the lack of interest edge that enables proper deployment, operations, and mainte- on user side to pursue the training. nance of the system. Without proper knowledge and technical expertise to operate an ATCS an agency can find itself in a Understanding the working principles of an ATCS is the hardware and software technology bind. If the agency does major requirement to having an operationally successful not have sufficient expertise, it needs to hire external consul- ATCS. ATCS users do not find that the working principles of tants for any operational problems or the system will suffer. their ATCS are difficult. Some (18%) found that the working If there are no financial resources available to hire external principles were difficult, but most of the ATCS users consider consultants, or if the consultants are not readily available, the the principles to be easy. Figure 5 shows the detailed responses ATCS can go into a "hibernating mode"--it operates, but its on the level of difficulty of ATCS working principles. performance will slowly degrade. In the long term, such hiber- nating systems may be left alone until they are replaced by con- These results provide a somewhat unbalanced picture of ventional traffic signal control systems. Therefore, to acquire how understandable ATCS working principles really are. and retain the proper level of knowledge to operate ATCSs, Most ATCS vendors do not provide comprehensive training to agencies need to: enable their users to fully utilize their ATCSs. They usually explain generic principles of each system in a highly aggre- Receive proper initial training at the time when the ATCS gated way during the initial days of ATCS deployment. In addi- is initially deployed, tion, users are usually given a level of training that supports Acquire continuous training and support to resolve oper- only common every-day operations; customizing and opera- ational issues, and tional reconfiguration of the system are beyond their level of Retain the expertise (personnel) during the life of ATCS expertise. In this way, ATCS users are inclined to hire vendors operations. and/or consultants for any challenging problems (e.g., addition of a new intersection or reconfiguration of the existing system ATCS users stated that, on average, their vendors spent of an intersection). From that perspective, ATCS users are usu- approximately 25 person-days to provide the initial training ally given an opportunity to perceive only the end user's side to enable the users to operate their system. However, this of the system. The real difficulties in operating many of the number varies considerably among ATCS users. Some of the available system's bells and whistles are often not perceived users received only a few days of training, whereas others by the users; hence, the bias reflected in the reported answers. were receiving vendor support for the first 3 to 4 months. In the second instance, it did not mean that the vendors needed Once the ATCSs are in place and initial validation of the that much time to train their users, but primarily that they systems is complete, approximately 62% of ATCS users rely