Transportation system managers in Georgia use a wide array of intelligent transportation solutions to improve the safety and efficiency of our roadways and improve mobility. Thousands of sensors and cameras monitor the roadways for issues affecting traffic flow. Data from traffic sensors, cell phones and Bluetooth devices create maps for transportation managers and motorists. Here are some numbers.
NaviGAtor is Georgia’s Advanced Traffic Management System and the backbone of the state’s Intelligent Transportation System (ITS). NaviGAtor was developed and is managed by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT). It was first activated in April 1996, just before the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
NaviGator collects data, analyses the data, distributes traffic information and controls devices.
NaviGAtor’s Video Detection System (VDS) is the primary source of real-time information about current travel conditions.
Approximately 1,645 VDS stations are installed approximately every 1/3 mile along most major interstates around Atlanta. These VDS cameras provide continuous speed and volume data to the TMC and allow the system to generate travel times for the Changeable Message Signs (CMS).
NaviGAtor also uses about 500 full-color Closed-Circuit Television cameras, positioned about every 1 mile on most major interstates around Atlanta. The CCTVs have tilt, pan and zoom capabilities and serve as traffic cameras sending real-time footage to the operators at the TMC monitoring the roadways. The information collected from these cameras allows them to confirm incident details, dispatch HERO units and request appropriate emergency resources.
For more than 20 years the Georgia Department of Transportation’s Transportation Management Center (TMC), has been ground zero for mobility in the state and the nerve center for our world-class intelligent transportation system (ITS). From the Olympics, to Super Bowls to Snow Jams, top state officials and the news media gather on the Ops Floor to get the latest information on traffic and watch operators dispatch and manage resources.
Located in Atlanta, Georgia, the TMC is the headquarters and information clearinghouse for NaviGAtor – Georgia’s Intelligent Transportation System. Operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the TMC is committed to enhancing travel safety and transportation efficiency by managing incidents, controlling traffic, and providing accurate information to the traveling public.
TMC employees work behind the scenes to provide statewide incident management through a three phase process.
Phase 1: Collecting Information The TMC monitors the roadways and collects real-time information from Video Detection System (VDS) cameras along the interstates. Operators also gather information taking 511 calls from travelers regarding traffic congestion and roadway incidents.
Phase 2: Confirm and Analyze Information TMC employees must then confirm each incident by identifying the problem, the cause and the effect it will have on the roadway. The proper authorities, such as police, fire or HERO, are notified so they can respond to the incident.
Phase 3: Communicate the Information The third step is communicating this information to travelers, allowing them to make informed travel decisions, through changeable message signs (CMS) on the roadways, the NaviGAtor website, media relations, audio messages from 511 calls and the new 511 Georgia smart-phone app.
10 Years of Service
ITS Georgia marked the 10th anniversary of the opening of the TMC with a panel of ITS pioneers who built the state’s intelligent transportation system.
20 Years of Service
In the spring of 1996, the Georgia Department of Transportation opened the TMC and launched the NaviGAtor intelligent transportation system. For the past 20 years the TMC has been the symbol and substance of the ever-expanding and improving ITS system in Georgia.
June 29, ITS Georgia and the pioneers of the TMC gathered with more than 100 transportation professionals around the southeast to mark the occasion.
20 Year Upgrade
So, after 20 years of watching over millions of daily commuters, the TMC earned a facelift – and it’s not just cosmetic. To accommodate the expansion of electronic toll lanes on I-75, both north and south of the city, the State Road and Tollway Authority is moving and expanding its operation to the TMC. The expansion will allow make room for 36 operator pods, up from 19. Each pod will focus on one aspect of managing the expansive Interstate ITS system and to work with city and county-level control centers to manage surface streets.
ITS Georgia members got an exclusive behind the scenes look at the renovated TMC in January 2016.
Pods will also be assigned to the Georgia State Patrol, Atlanta region traffic specialists, 511 operations and HERO dispatchers.
Since the new I-75 toll lanes are reversible, their operation will be controlled from the TMC along with the variable pricing. HERO units will be on hand to make sure each day’s lane reversal goes smoothly.
ITS Georgia member firm AECOM is the designer of the $2.7 million project. Chapter Board member Mark Demidovich, who is assistant state traffic operations engineer, is providing engineering leadership.
In addition to the TMC in Atlanta, there are a number of smaller Transportation Control Centers (TCC) and another TMC, located in Macon, Georgia. These satellite centers are also run by the counties and cities to manage the arterial road systems. Close coordination of hardware, software and staff, between the Georgia DOT and these agencies, provides for seamless real-time traffic information in these areas.
Almost 150 Changeable Message Signs (CMS) are located on most major interstates around throughout the state. They relay up-to-the-minute information to drivers.
CMS are capable of automatic message generation but operators also have access to create custom messages when necessary. The signs display two primary messages:
Travel Time is calculated from average speeds over a stretch of roadway through information collected from the VDS cameras. The CMS inform drivers of travel times between major points along the interstate system. Travel time information is provided between 6am and 9pm.
Incident Messages inform travelers of accidents, stalls, construction and other problems that may cause delay on the roadway. The CMS relay the incident location and specify which lanes are affected. During smog season in metro Atlanta, the signs may also contain information regarding air quality conditions and air friendly options available to commuters.
The NaviGAtor system also includes High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lane CMS. These primarily provide information specifically for express lane commuters.
CMS allow motorists to make informed decisions for them by providing a clear and reliable picture of the road ahead, resulting in minimized commute times and frustration levels.
The Georgia Department of Transportation operates nearly 1,500 cameras across the state to monitor traffic and detect incidents that affect traffic. Live video from these cameras is routed to the Transportation Management Center and to local Transportation Control Centers. They are also made available to the public and the media to help commuters make better choices when traveling. Visit www.511ga.org to view the cameras on your route.
Providing travelers with information about traffic and transit conditions makes then active participants in improving the safety and efficiency of our transportation infrastructure. Several Traveler Information Systems (TIS) are at work assisting Georgia Travelers.
Georgia 511 Program
Georgia was one of the pioneers in providing up-to-the-minute travel information when it created Georgia NaviGAtor. Today, Georgia 511 makes traffic, travel, tourism and transit information accessible through your phone.
Georgia 511 is a free phone service that provides end-users with real time traffic and travel information, or allows commuters to request assistance 24 hours a day. Georgia 511 can be accessed from anywhere in Georgia, by simply dialing 5-1-
1 or using the smartphone app. 511 also can provide you with the following travel information:
Accurate, up-to-date information on statewide traffic conditions
Current and planned road and lane closures
511 Offers Important Connections
Accident reporting and HERO request
MARTA & Transit options
Rideshare (Carpool or Vanpool)
Atlanta and Savannah international airports
Neighboring state 511 systems (Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee)
In addition to 511, GDOT supplies information to local TV and radio stations and to mapping services such as google and Waze.