Traveler Information Websites

  • Third-Gen Web

  • Next-Gen Web

  • LB Web

  • LB-Flex

Third-Gen Web is replacing Next-Gen Web as the primary public-facing website for our clients. Improvements include a modal image/info viewer.

This new modal viewer draws on the latest advances in web development to allow users to see information and images in a larger, more streamlined and modern user interface.

Third-Gen Web

The Full-Feature CARS-Web site is a statewide traveler information web site that runs off of the CARS database. As of Spring 2013, the Full-Feature website uses Google Maps API v3 as its primary map background.

Full-Feature CARS-Web displays roadway-based event icons based on traffic/travel event data received from CARS. When a user clicks on of these icons, a text bubble will appear containing a description of the event, including any public comments or detour attachments that a CARS operator may have added to the event.

Users can also switch from the main map view to a list view, in which lists of highway reports are organized by route number, route section, and route direction.

Next-Gen Web

LB (Low-Bandwidth) combines the breadth of information currently available on Next-Gen CARS-Web with the streamlined user interface of CARS-Web 3G, while also being designed to fit on a standard web browser screen.

It requires no more than a 56 kbps Internet connection for use.

LB Web

LB-Flex aims to combine the features and functionality currently found in the CARS-Web LB and CARS-Web 3G sites in a single site that provides 511 traveler information to members of the public that access the site on mobile devices/smart phones, tablets, and with full browsers on low-bandwidth Internet connections.

LB-Flex

Personalization of Traveler Information

  • Twitter / Alert B

  • Alert D

  • Routes

  • Vox

CARS-Alert B (Broadcast), formerly known as CARS-Tweet, utilizes the popular social networking service Twitter to distribute traffic updates automatically from the CARS system.

Increasingly, people turn to Twitter for real-time updates and news about breaking events from a wide variety of sources.

Twitter / Alert B

CARS-Alert D (Direct) is a public messaging and notification module that makes personalized traffic alerts available to the public.

Users can sign up for personalized text and/or email messages containing real-time traffic alerts affecting the routes and areas they have saved to their CARS-Routes account. Alerts include events that are entered or updated in CARS during the time period(s) and day(s) of the week specified by the user.

CARS-Alert D is dependent on CARS-Routes, although CARS-Routes can be deployed independently of CARS-Alert D.

Alert D

CARS-Routes is the foundation upon which personalized 511 information is implemented in the CARS software suite.

It allows users to create "511 accounts" that are used to personalize information on the CARS-based web sites and 511 phone systems. Within the system, users can identify the routes they use and would like to recieve 511 information about.

Both CARS-Alert D (the messaging service) and CARS-Vox (the crowd-sourced road information module) are dependent on CARS-Routes.

Routes

CARS-Vox integrates "crowd-sourced" winter driving condition information into the CARS-based 511 traveler information services.

CARS-Vox enables members of the public to submit winter driving conditions for publication in the 511 system. Using an enhanced CARS-Routes sign-in screen, public users check a box to indicate interest in submitting CARS-Vox reports, and to create a screen name.

The CARS-Vox design builds upon already-operational CARS/511 modules. This approach enables the agency to situate its crowd-sourcing functions within the existing 511 system, rather than re-building it as a separate stovepipe system that partly overlaps and/or duplicates it.

This also allows for the easy advertisment and promotion of the crowd-sourcing program to 511 users already familiar with the existing system. It paves the way for further expansion of citizen input into the 511 system, should the program expand in the future.

Vox

Telephony Services

  • 511

  • Smart 511

The Next-Generation CARS-511 module uses a route-based reporting structure that allows callers to request condition information for a specific route or section of a route.

A roadway and roadway segment-based menu allows virtually all caller inputs to be numerically coded, rather than remaining dependent upon city name recognition.

A city region-based menu option is also included. This city/region menu option differs from the city radius-based option in the First-Gen CARS-511 system in that only a small number of major cities are covered using a menu-based city selection method.

511

The existing Next-Gen CARS-511 system, like many classic 511 designs, is built upon a highway-based menu structure, where callers can request condition information for a specific highway or for named sections of the roadway. The Smart 511 module takes this concept further by tailoring 511 reports to a user's individual routes, from origin to destination.

Using Google maps location features, users may choose any location on the map as to set as starting and ending points-- essentially, any address, city, intersection, or landmark that Google maps recognizes. An initial route suggestion is generated by Google, but users can click on the map to select an alternative route, or to add a destination.

When the 511 phone system recognizes the caller via caller ID, Smart 511 plays lists of current events affecting their custom routes.

Smart 511

Operator Entry Modules

  • Cars-4.3 / 5

  • CARS-CAD / Imports

  • CARS-Times

  • Segment

  • Segment Definition Tool

  • CARS-Amber

CARS 4.3 is the current version of the core CARS operator data entry software: the original CARS 4 module, utilizing Google Maps API v3.

This lastest version improves upon previous versions by using Google Maps API v3 as the map background, allowing for better usability and helping to facilitate the reporting of events on local roads and state routes.

Cars-4.3 / 5

CARS-CAD/Imports uses Google Maps to display event locations as they are imported from external systems. This is useful because many third-party systems have poor location information. High-resolution maps with local road details can assist operators in homing in on the exact location of the incident.

The CARS-CAD software initially places incoming reports at the nearest point on a roadway in CARS using whatever information the external system can provide. Operators can then click and drag a pointer to adjust event location(s), or use milepoints and/or named locations (intersections, etc.) to set the location of an event.

Using the same event-editing screen that was developed for CARS, operators can edit other details such as descriptors and priority level before finally committing the event to the CARS database.

CARS-CAD / Imports

CARS-Times, also known as Travel Times, was developed for the New York State Thruway Authority (NYSTA) to import real-time traffic speeds and estimated travel times from an external system called TRANSIT.

CARS-Times

CARS-Segment is a web-based data entry tool that supports winter condition reporting by roadway segment, typically defined in relation to snow plow routes used by maintenance operators.

Using a simple and intuitive web-based data entry interface, operators can quickly and easily enter winter road conditions for roadway segments throughout the state.

CARS-Segment also supports area-wide event entry, if desired, through which operators can simultaneously enter road conditions for all segments within specified areas such as districts, regions, or even statewide.

Operators can also group together segments on the fly, allowing geographically-related roadway stretches to be merged or separated as conditions change. As a result, CARS-Segment substantially reduces the time required for individual entry of winter road conditions on each roadway segment.

Segment

In 2011, three CARS-Segment states (Iowa, Idaho, and Minnesota) decided to develop a CARS-Segment configuration management tool to manage and maintain their predefined roadway segments for winter driving conditions, frequent closures, and chain controls in-house.

The CARS-Segment Definition Tool is now fully developed and deployed in each of those three states. The GUI, illustrated here, includes simple, web-based controls that allow the operator to define and update reporting segments for all roads in the CARS-Location database.

The GUI also includes special handlers for dealing with "jumps" along roadways. It helps ensure that there are no gaps or overlapping portions of roadway in the segment definitions.

Segment Definition Tool

The CARS-AMBER module was developed to help disseminate AMBER Alert messages to the public through the 511 phone system and associated website.

Operators can add details about the child, suspect, vehicle, and other key alert information. They can also upload a photo of the missing child (or suspect) that will be displayed to public users who click on an AMBER Alert in the CARS-based web sites.

Next-Gen CARS-AMBER also uses the new CARS-511 text-to-speech engine to generate an audio version of each AMBER Alert, rather than requiring operators to record the message separately. Operators can listen to a preview of the audio message before committing it to the CARS system.

CARS-Amber

Transit

  • Modes-Web

  • Modes Update

Modes is a software module used to manage and present transit information, such as schedules and routes for buses, trains and light rail, to the public.

Although the operator interface is modeled after the CARS interface, Modes is designed specifically to bring multi-modal transit information to 511.

Modes-Web

The Modes software module is driven by a General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) database. GTFS formatting was developed by Google as an open standard for exchanging transit information, including routes, fares, stops, and schedules.

However, GTFS has proven difficult and costly for many transit agencies to maintain without in-house specialists or expensive software packages.

Modes-Update addresses this issue by allowing operators to maintain their own GTFS datasets using a simplified web-based user interface that requires no specialist GIS skills or detailed knowledge of GTFS data structures.

Modes Update

Mobile Solutions

  • App

  • 3G

  • LB-Flex

Castle Rock's mobile application, CARS-App, is expected eventually to have three primary components, ShowMe, TellMe and HearMe. The base component of CARS-App is "ShowMe," which includes a dynamic map, CARS event reports, winter road conditions, Google traffic speeds, still-image cameras, and GPS location services.

TellMe, an upcoming enhancement, will automatically download 511 phone system audio files and play available audio as the user approaches an event's location. Between event announcements, the app goes quiet, so it can sit on the seat and be ready to help the driver as soon as things change. The concept has been described as "having a personalized highway advisory radio in the car."

HearMe, another planned feature, will allow drivers to share reports and updates about traffic and weather events they observe. Building off the CARS-Vox module, which enables users to post winter driving condition updates, HearMe will invite users to give their input in real time, as major events are observed. To address safety concerns, inputs to HearMe will be primarily driven by voice prompts and audio responses.

App

Current functions of CARS-Web 3G include access to route reports, camera images, weather station data, DMS sign data, AMBER Alerts, and statewide floodgate messages. With funding from the Iowa SIMS project, Radio menus are being added.

As other agencies deploy this module in their own states, the software can be expanded to include additional features. Possible enhancements include: CARS-Routes/My Reports logins, scalable maps for displaying regional views, links to 511 audio text for individual events, transit routes and schedules, a future date selection calendar, and Spanish or French versions.

3G

LB-Flex aims to combine the features and functionality currently found in the CARS-Web LB and CARS-Web 3G sites in a single site that provides 511 traveler information to members of the public that access the site on mobile devices/smart phones, tablets, and with full browsers on low-bandwidth Internet connections.

LB-Flex

Utilizing Imported Data

  • Signs

  • Traffic

  • RWIS

  • CARS-CAP

  • CCTV

  • Camera Tool

  • Radio

  • Mayday

Next-Gen CARS-Signs facilitates the viewing of dynamic message sign (DMS) messages.

In CARS 4 and on the public website, signs are represented by clickable icons that can be added to, or removed from, the map as a layer. When clicked, each sign icon reveals a text bubble containing a graphical depiction of the current message displayed on that sign.

Signs

CARS-Traffic imports speed and volume data from traffic detectors, and processes the data for display in CARS 4 and Next-Gen CARS-Web.

The software performs smoothing and averaging functions across adjacent detector stations in order to determine which color to paint a given section of roadway: red for stop-and-go, yellow for slow, and green for free-flowing. Roadway coloring changes dynamically as updated speed information is received.

Traffic

CARS-RWIS integrates Road Weather Information Station (RWIS) data with CARS, facilitating the display of RWIS information to the public via the CARS-driven websites.

On the website, RWIS stations appear as icons superimposed on the statewide map. Clicking on one of the RWIS icons opens up a tabular display of the current data for the selected station.

RWIS

CARS-CAP Level 1 currently allows CARS to import NWS Warnings from the National Weather Service (NWS) using Common Alerting Protocol (CAP).

CAP is a standardized XML format that uses a predictable set of phrases. It therefore can be used to report the event on CARS-511 and other systems, producing a more natural-sounding spoken report similar to those already developed for other highway event reports.

CARS-Cap

CARS-CCTV integrates agency CCTV cameras into the CARS 4 operator GUI, and enhances the display of camera images on the public CARS-driven web sites.

Each camera location is plotted on the CARS map using a distinctive icon that can be clicked to reveal a current image or video feed from that camera, now in the CARS "album" viewer.

Where multiple views are available, as in Idaho, the user can either scroll through these images automatically or select the desired view (e.g. "Facing West") from an integrated drop-down menu.

CCTV

CARS 4 operators also have the ability to manage a database of cameras for their state. The CCTV Inventory Tool allows these cameras to be directly edited, added, or removed from a statewide database.

Camera Tool

CARS-Radio is an integrated HAR/Low-Power FM solution that includes an operator GUI for reviewing, coordinating, and delivering content to stations in the state.

Radio

The CARS-Mayday module allows operators to review OnStar crash reports and enter them into CARS. A goal of this deployment is to enhance highway safety by streamlining communications between emergency dispatchers and on-the-ground responders.

Mayday

System Monitoring

  • CARS-Calls

  • CARS-Log

  • Data Warehouse

  • Hub

The Verizon IVR platform offers only limited call statistics for calls operated on the platform. Some CARS-511 agencies have expressed an interest in collecting more detailed 511 call statistics that go a beyond the simple statistics that the Verizon platform is capable of collecting and reporting.

These statistics would enable agencies to monitor the number of calls, as well as the frequency of main menu selections, on a monthly basis using a simple web interface.

CARS-Calls

CARS-Log addresses the need for CARS operators and TMC managers to review the incidents and events that occurred on a given day in CARS, the response activities carried out by persons and systems in response to the incident or event, and the details of how the incident or event concluded.

CARS-Log

The CARS-DW (Data Warehouse) module, currently in development, will be a separate data warehouse for the longer-term storage of CARS-Log event data.

This database will be entirely separated from the CARS-Log database. The specific CARS-Log data to be stored in this data warehouse are CARS events of any type.

The other types of data in the CARS-Log database, such as operator actions, logging in/logging out, and CARS module log activity, will not be stored in CARS-DW.

Data Warehouse

CARS-Hub is an ITS standards-based data exchange tool that allows participating agencies (including both CARS and non-CARS states), approved media outlets, and other authorized users (such as Google) to share data.

The Hub was initially developed for the purpose of letting CARS states share their traffic event data with Google, in exchange for receiving a free Google Maps enterprise license.

State-to-state data exchanges (e.g. for neighboring states who wish to display each other's events) are also made possible through the Hub. As additional agencies and vendors join the Hub, its architecture is intended to eliminate the need for separate, costly data links between each data-sharing entity.

Hub

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