Maintenance Decision Support System: Pilot Study and Cost-Benefit Analysis (Phase 2.5)
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Maintenance Decision Support System: Pilot Study and Cost-Benefit Analysis (Phase 2.5)

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    Final Report
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    This project focused on several tasks: development of in-vehicle hardware that permits implementation of an MDSS, development of software to collect and process road and weather data, a cost-benefit study, and pilot-scale implementation. Two Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) systems were developed at UNR for NDOT: one for rural Nevada and one for urban environments where cellular phone data is available. For rural areas a system was developed that relies on the statewide Enhanced Digital Access Communications Systems (EDACS) radio system for sending/receiving data. The system developed for urban areas currently use a Droid cell phone to transmit data. No driver interaction is needed in either system, which avoids distracted driving concerns. Both systems communicate with a central server located at UNR. Using both snow plows and light duty trucks, a total of 37 vehicle installations were completed (not including two installations at UNR). A survey of other DOT’s experiences with MDSS and interviews with 3 MDSS service providers was also completed. Most DOTs have one of two goals for their MDSS: 1) to increase the level of service while using the same resources or 2) maintaining the same level of service using fewer resources. Our conclusion is that if Nevada DOT were to aim for maintaining the same level of service it can expect to see substantial savings if they chose to implement MDSS. With an annual salt/sand budget of about $2.6 million, NDOT can expect to save between $520k to $1 million annually. Our research has also identified several potential impediments to implementing an MDSS in Nevada. The most pressing issue is related to data communication in rural Nevada. It is envisioned that two types of AVL systems will be needed, one that makes use of the Statewide radio network and another that uses mobile (cellular) data. An AVL system that seamlessly switches between modes would be desirable. Both systems will need to safely provide snowplow drivers with updated treatment plans without distracting the operator. The pilot-scale systems developed can serve as templates for eventual vendor RFPs. The second issue that could hinder implementation of an MDSS is Nevada’s Material Management System (MMS). Because it is currently difficult for NDOT personnel to accurately report where along the route material is being used, it would be difficult to determine where MDSS benefits/losses are being realized. Thirdly, building trust by NDOT personnel in MDSS recommendations may be difficult. Nevada’s many microclimates in the northern region of the state are attributed to making it difficult for making accurate weather predictions. If the MDSS has inaccurate weather forecasts, then the treatment recommendations it provides will not engender any trust in the supervisors consulting the system. Finally, the MDSS community, which includes many state DOTs and private vendors, have to deal with intellectual property (patent) issues. Our analysis indicates that NDOT/UNR is not infringing on any of the claims in any of the seven patents reviewed. However, the group of patents issued to Concaten and Iwapi remains a concern for all DOTs using an MDSS and all providers of MDSS solutions. Nevada cannot proceed to implement an MDSS without developing a plan to address the intellectual property issues.
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