Georgia DOT wins prestigious traffic management award with innovative data use


The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has been selected as the 2020 NOCoE (National Operations Center of Excellence) TSMO Awards Overall Winner.

The awards celebrate the expanding discipline of transportation systems management and operations (TSMO), which aims to get the most out of the existing transportation system by managing and operating networks in an efficient manner that emphasizes safety and mobility and provides a clear benefit to the traveling public.

The announcement was made by Jim Tymon, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) on 24 September 2020.

Georgia DOT was selected from among 46 entries and four finalists, each of whom had previously been selected as a category winner in the annual awards. Georgia DOT won the “Best Use of Data to Improve TSMO” category before becoming the programme’s Overall Winner.

GDOT’s entry, titled “Improving TSMO in Georgia Using Data,” highlighted GDOT’s development of a traffic data management and reporting system built around automated traffic signal performance measures (ATSPM) that saves the state hundreds of hours in staff time and US$250,000 per year.

A more expansive analysis conducted by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) found that utilizing these data tools provides over US$12 million per year to Georgia citizens.

“I’ve often said we have the best operations team in the nation, and so this award is really the result of their passion and their brilliance,” says GDOT chief engineer Meg Pirkle. “We’ve got to make the most of the system we have … Georgia is definitely a growing state. So many vital sectors depend on safe, efficient and reliable transportation. TSMO is always going to be the focus of how we make the most of our system because of the limited dollars we have to expand.”

GDOT worked with the FHWA to develop its own Automated Traffic Signal Performance Measures (ATSPM) and built upon the work already accomplished by Indiana and Utah departments of transportation with Purdue University to develop performance measures that characterised flow rates and quality of traffic signal timing coordination. Launched in January 2018, GDOT’s Measurement, Accuracy, and Reliability Kit (MARK 1) automated the reporting system, replacing manual procedures that had been in place for five years.

NOCoE’s Managing Director Patrick Son believes GDOT’s program has implications for other agencies. “Georgia DOT’s approach to build upon solutions from peers demonstrates the value of NOCoE’s mission to transfer knowledge amongst industry practitioners,” he says. “The analysis and decision making capabilities their solution is enabling, are crucial to the efficient management of traffic. Their collaboration with Utah is exactly the kind of knowledge transfer we’re committed to at NOCoE.”

GDOT was also runner-up in the category “Agency Improvement: Use of Capability Maturity Model (CMM)” for the entry “Georgia’s TSMO Maturity Drives a Safer and More Reliable Commute.”

The NOCoE awards emphasize empowering the workforce with the knowledge, skills and abilities to consistently improve the transportation system. Case studies of outstanding work, like this award- winning Georgia DOT project, assist in the effort to share knowledge.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).