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Masoud Atefi & Associates Inc., Florida Board of Professional Engineers License # 34237

Traffic Management

Intelligent Traffic Management Systems (ITMS)

Essential Need For Traffic Management Systems in Every State and For Every Urban Setting

In general, traffic engineers do a pretty good job of initially designing proper lane configurations and traffic signal phasing at all urban intersections.  The problem is constant increase and changes in demand and unavailability of a sustained monitoring process, aka Traffic Management System.  Some of the problem stems from many of non traffic engineering industries such as IT or different planning agencies hack into federal and state transportation funds without true understanding of urban traffic engineering needs.  In the 1990’s the Federal Government (DOT and FHWA) made several unsuccessful attempts to make States and major cities develop and maintain traffic management systems. But with rapid growth of the telecom industry, more and more funds were allocated to all sorts of hi Tech hardware and software which are great but helpless to do much, without addressing lack of traffic management systems.

Today, there are hundreds of what are being called as “Traffic Management Centers” (TMC) in America – yet majority of them while being equipped with state of the art live traffic monitoring, vehicle detection cameras and automatic traffic signal timing adjustment software – they lack simple traffic management systems, and are hence not able to detect roadway network needs.  

For years, we have been advocating for traffic management systems.   Traffic Management Systems have a basic task of comparing roadway supply to existing and changing demands and identify irregularities and needs and raise flags based on pre-defined queries.

Our advocation of traffic management systems has been somewhat successful in Palm Beach County where officials agreed to fund the design and development of the Traffic Performance Standards (TPS) Database.   This is a unique traffic management tool, allowing the County to manage developments and traffic growth. The TPS Database is the only traffic management system/model in the Country which can forecast future peak hour traffic demand for every movement at intersections, and has now evolved into a highly useful tool for the County Five Year Roadway program.

To prove the need for Traffic Management Systems, over the past few years we have formulated and devised several system queries which all tested successfully.

Another major obstacle why our industry is lagging in traffic management systems is the fact that government entities are full of veterans with years of experience in implementing a procedure they assume to be best. These individuals usually settle into comfortable government positions, get in tunnel-vision modes unwilling to do anything to “rock the boat”, make changes or adapt new systems.  It has been decades since most engineering fields have adopted computer programming and systems into their functions, yet with traffic engineers, and especially in the public sector the love affair with old “spreadsheets’ continues and is still quite evident.

Good news is that all technology and hardware needed to create Intelligent Traffic Management Systems (iTMS), are currently in place in just about every urbanized areas in the world.  Only missing part is the system software, for which we offer unique expertise to define, devise, scope and develop systems tailored to local needs.

Finally, we also see potential for the private sector to tap into this essential need in modern urban settings, fund development of traffic management systems and market them globally.

-Masoud Atefi