2016 Data+ Editors' Choice Awards

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

The state's Intelligent Transportation System keeps roads safe in extreme weather. 

State flag of Kentucky
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2016 Data+ Editors' Choice Awards

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Kentucky transportation officials found themselves in a tough spot after back-to-back extreme winters. Average winter costs almost doubled when unforeseen storms hit. They needed better insight into fleet management and the ability to deploy resources more quickly.

Toward that end, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet developed a system that uses real-time and crowdsourced data about road conditions to give crews the insight they need to respond to situations more quickly. To build what it calls its Intelligent Transportation System (ITS), the agency first partnered with the makers of the crowdsourced traffic app Waze, which lets drivers report what they're seeing on the roads in real time. Next, it enlisted mapping software vendor Esri to incorporate the real-time data into existing GIS applications. The beta system added data from official state weather stations and traffic sensors, as well as information about the location and status of snowplows.

Today, the system aggregates 15 million live records daily from multiple real-time data feeds. "The ability to process the information in real time rather than a month later to find out what we did right or wrong is a huge win," says ITS technical lead Chris Lambert.

Vineet Kumar, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's big data architect, says learning new technologies, like open-source systems, and winning acceptance for them was challenging at first, but "it's easier when you have a problem to solve."

The agency also shares data with partner agencies and sends residents email and text alerts before, during, and after weather events.

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