Traffic operations agencies take on a lot of responsibilitysuch as congestion management, planning and improving infrastructure, and promoting public safety. The challenge to improve success metrics while staying within the limitations of budget is ongoingThis is why leaders must perform operational assessments from time to time to gauge the value and effectiveness of the agency, part of which involves analyzing the total cost of ownership (TCO) of existing solutions and identifying potential opportunities for future growth and value.

ATSPM observed costs

Agencies are looking for ways to proactively monitor and measure the performance of their signals, and have begun investing in infrastructure-based, automated traffic signal performance measure(ATSPM) systems to provide dependable information. ATSPM systems are reliable and accurate, but costly. For example, an agency performing a cost analysis of ATSPM systems would need to consider the following:

  • Upfront costs of the installation of physical hardware 
  • Ongoing costs of maintenance and repair 
  • Costs relating to calibration, including field data collection or floating car studies 
  • Signal performance measure data storage, management, analysis, and reporting

ATSPM unobserved costs

As TCO encompasses all costs—both direct and indirect—agencies need to think about additional factors that don’t necessarily have a physical price tag. A major unobserved cost of ATSPM systems can be found in lost opportunity. For instance, a network of physical hardware is a dependable source of information, but it cannot give agencies high-level awareness of where the most underperforming signals exist across the entire network. Without the ability to identify and prioritize them, poorly-timed signals can go months or even years until their scheduled maintenance dates, which contributes to control delay, carbon emissions, and a general sense of public frustration. 

Along a similar vein, many agencies that follow a regular maintenance schedule will go to the effort of pulling data from an intersection and producing reports only to find that the signal was already performing perfectly. Although the resulting impact isn’t quite the same as leaving a poorly-timed signal unaddressed in the field, the loss of opportunity is. Agencies generate the most value when they can direct their time and resources to where the most good can be done.

How vehicle probe solutions compare

ATSPM systems have been a useful tool for many traffic operations agencies, but there are options for those looking to improve their systems even further. INRIX Signal Analytics is a vehicle probe-based, cloud solution that maps out entire transportation networks virtually. This gives users insights into traffic signal performance without the reliance on physical hardware—meaning no installation, maintenance, or repair costs. 

In addition to helping agencies skirt material costs, Signal Analytics provides high level awareness of the entire signal network. Information arrives in daily reports and gives traffic operations managers insight into overall network performance and emerging issues. Taking the digital approach benefits agencies in the following ways:

  • Rank and prioritize maintenance projects based on where the most value can be created 
  • Perform before-after performance analysis without dependence on field operations 
  • Completely avoid spending time and resources on signals that are already performing well 
  • Faster response times to underperforming signals or other events that disrupt traffic flow 
  • Reduce community frustration while improving network performance and air quality

When taking TCO into consideration, the majority of overall value often comes not just from cutting material costs but by considering the big picture of opportunity. Digital solutions improve upon the existing value of ATSPM systems, and Signal Analytics is great for agencies looking to add a cost-effective tool to their existing toolbox or overhaul their systems entirely.

This blog post is part of a content series explaining the value of Signal Analytics. INRIX is a pioneer in location intelligence solutions. To see how INRIX Signal Analytics can help your agency, schedule a free demo here.