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West Virginia Gets a New, 10-Monitor Look at Traffic

West Virginia needed technology-based solutions to make measurable improvements in the state's highways.

West Virginia needed technology-based solutions to make measurable improvements in the state’s highways.

Now the state’s Department of Transportation has a new, state-of-the-art transportation management facility running round the clock, disseminating information to road users, creating a seamless management response to help transportation interests and coordinating with state emergency responders.

The West Virginia Department of Transportation recently began using a new OpenTMS Enterprise System that runs round the clock to provide transportation and road info. “We needed a smart solution that offered multiple capabilities for deploying technologies, such as closed circuit TV and variable message signs, as well as enabling us to communicate effectively with our partners in emergency response, the traveling public and commercial transportation companies,” said Transportation Management Center Manager Jim Lambert.

To help bring these objectives to life, the WVDoT Division of Highways selected Open Roads Consulting, a technology integration company headquartered in Chesapeake, Va. The company supplied its OpenTMS Enterprise System, a scalable and modular transportation and management system that encompasses data gathering, information dissemination and real-time decision-making in a single interface.

The center officially launched in November 2008 and became fully operational 24/7 in April 2009.

“One of the most unique features about what we integrated into the new facility is the CubeX video wall, which not only proved to be an economical video solution that would work well with the software, but also one that would provide for a visually appealing presentation,” said Project Manager Richard Beckwith.

One of the key reasons the CubeX system complemented the space was its narrow-bezel design. The sides of the monitors have only a half-inch bezel, and, when put together, they take only an inch out of the screen area. These high-definition, color-match 46-inch monitors are grouped in two rows of five and span 19 feet. The wall is enclosed in a custom-built cabinet that contains indirect lighting, temperature controls, cooling fans, along with the software server.

The CubeX video wall contains 10 high definition monitors that are grouped into two rows of five and span 19 feet. According to Beckwith, beyond its eye-catching appearance, the video wall works extremely well with Open Roads’ Video Image Control and Display System (VICADS), which provides a video over IP solution to control and monitor video cameras. “The system includes software that takes video streams from multiple cameras and displays these streams on one monitor,” he said. “This enables facility operators to play up to six different video streams on one monitor. With 10 monitors, that means images from 60 cameras can be displayed simultaneously.”

An additional benefit to the CubeX system, according to Beckwith, was the wide view angle the system offered.

At all hours, the facility is run by two operators who have three Dell workstations from which they receive incoming calls, disseminate information, and post wording for roadway signs. Operators can also manipulate the video being received so they can zero in on traffic problems captured by various Cohu field cameras.

In addition to the video wall, the facility features 24-hour 911 Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) alerts. Software filters emergency calls that involve roadway incidents from all 911 calls and only forwards alerts of this nature to the facility. From this, incident reports can be generated and roadway message signs can be updated.

“Before the facility was built, we used a simple radio room in which we would receive calls from various interests for road treatment and other incidents,” said Lambert. As a result of the facility, the Highway Division has been able to effectively partner with emergency responder agencies, provide visual alerts on traffic-related incidents, and coordinate radio communication to help those in the field respond to events, such as accidents or reports of debris in the roadway. “The new facility definitely helps us to maintain good situational awareness, and in the next phase of the project, we’re going to continue to expand to other counties in the state,” he said.

This next phase also involves the addition of Hazard Radio Announcements and the integration of the system into a conference room scenario that will feature computer, data and TV hookups and enable key players to hold strategy sessions.