NH Department of Transportation
Transportation Management Center (TMC)
Incident Planning and Operations Center (IPOC)
By GSA Marty Wagner, Comfort Inn Class of 2011
To say the TMC/IPOC was a fascinating place to visit is just the tip of the iceberg when describing this operation run by the NH Department of Transportation. Two different groups of GSAs had the privilege of visiting the center on January 11th and 18th for a one hour tour, conducted by Nicholas King, TMC Operations Supervisor, and Susan Klasen, who is the Administrator who oversees the TMC and much more.
Entering the center with its 2-story ceilings and massive screen had us all feeling like we had walked into a NASA command center. Their huge screen which shows various traffic camera locations across the state was mesmerizing to watch, but hearing more about what we were looking at piqued our interest and resulted in more questions asked and answered. Nicholas and Susan have experienced it all, as have their handful of staff who keep this operation going 24/7.
They share this building with other agencies such as Homeland Security, E-911, Marine Patrol, and State Police Headquarters. The ‘Briefing Room’ overlooks the TMC. It would be used during state-wide emergencies where the Governor and multiple agencies might be involved in decision making and response plans.
Below are just some of the highlights about what goes on at the center.
- One of TMC’s primary data sources available to the public is the New England 511 traffic information system, which is shared with Maine and Vermont. Camera transmissions from this system are real time. This information is shared with state agencies and the public, and is shared with routing systems such as Google Maps and Waze.
- TMC staff are monitoring and tracking incidents that are in two broad categories: unplanned such as auto accidents and slowdowns due to weather; and planned such as road construction or bridge maintenance closures.
- There are currently 97 traffic/highway cameras in New Hampshire.
- The jumbo screen in the TMC shows 32 locations at once, with constant scrolling to cover all cameras.
- The center is monitoring them all 24/7 for traffic conditions and incidents occurring on NH’s roads and highways.
- There is also a section on the video wall that displays traffic speeds provided by TomTom data. They are a detection system which also can determine the speed of the traffic and the amount of traffic (density) in any location.
- The traffic speeds are segmented by Corridor and display either Green, Yellow or Red reflecting the current traffic conditions. If one changes color based on the data gathered by the system, one of the TMC Operators in the center then zeroes in on the problem area to see if more information is available visually. Once an incident is confirmed, they notify the public immediately. They are required to get word out to the public within a 10-20 minute window (depending location) for each incident.
- The NH State Police and the TMC are in constant contact as things occur on the highways. If an accident has been reported they coordinate efforts to confirm the event either through use of the cameras or their Troopers in the field.
- The TMC also serves as a coordination point when other state agencies and utilities may be involved in an incident.
- Weather data is also critical for the TMC staff to have. There is a weather provider screen that they use, but they can also make weather report requests which is particularly crucial when weather conditions are changing rapidly. When they make a weather request, the on duty meteorologist is require to respond within 15 minutes.
- Drones have replaced work buckets to help determine the best placement of new highway cameras. For instance, in selecting a spot for the new camera near the Canterbury Welcome Center, a drone was flown along that section of highway to determine where the best view of the highway was, and also to determine how high the camera needed to be to maximize the camera’s use.
- The TMC is responsible for posting the messages seen on all highway message boards throughout the state. Those include not only travel times used particularly during rush hours, but also for incident management, road weather information, and public service announcements which are provided by the Department of Safety,
- For much more information on the TMC, including a quick link to the 511.org traffic maps, go to www.nhtmc.com
- For a direct link to real-time traffic reports, go to: www.newengland511.org
- To see their reports on the number and types of incidents they’ve followed and more, go to:
- Susan spent some time explaining how the use of smart cars and other technology will be constantly changing the needs and purpose of the TMC in coming years. She stressed to us that it’s not 20 years away, but starting to happen right now.