Smart call box field operational test evaluation : summary report

Smart call box field operational test evaluation : summary report

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  • Abstract:
    Smart call boxes are an enhanced version of devices used as emergency call boxes in California. The overall system consists of a microprocessor, a cellular communications transceiver, solar power sources, data collection devices, maintenance computers, and data recording systems. The Smart Call Box Field Operational Test (FOT) evaluated the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of using smart call boxes for five data processing and transmission tasks: traffic census, incident detection, hazardous weather reporting, changeable message sign control, and video surveillance. Evaluation focused on cost-effectiveness, with effectiveness understood to include both functional adequacy and reliability and costs to include capital costs, telephone charges, and maintenance costs. Due to schedule slippage it was impossible to evaluate reliability and maintenance costs. The smart call box concept was found to be feasible but not necessarily optimal. Functional systems for traffic census, hazardous weather reporting, and video surveillance were produced. Due to high wiring installation costs, these will often be cheaper to deploy than hardwire systems but are not necessarily superior to other wireless options. Significant system integration problems were encountered. Systems produced by the FOT should be subjected to further testing and development to provide design enhancements, and to evaluate reliability and maintenance costs. Agencies considering deployment of smart call boxes should prepare detailed deployment plans to resolve such issues as ownership, financing, and provision of maintenance services. Institutional problems encountered in the FOT itself included inadequate involvement of the sponsoring agencies and potential users in system development, delays due to a lengthy vendor-selection process, and cumbersome contracting procedures; some of these might have been avoided by including of all major participants as partners in the FOT proposal.
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