Washtenaw Countywide Interconnect System Upgrade

Washtenaw Countywide Interconnect System Upgrade

Project Summary

Washtenaw County Road Commission (WCRC) maintains over 260 traffic signals of which approximately 75 key intersections are interconnected into a wireless communications network managed by advanced traffic management software.

As WCRC expands on the number of signals that are interconnected and have real-time PTZ video surveillance to improve the coordinated traffic signal system, they looked to implement the best tools available in Traffic/ITS technology to reduce motorist’s congestion, increase stability of the traffic network, improve cybersecurity, and have a solid foundation that allowed for future growth.

Based on the size of the traffic signal network, ITE recommends a staff of over 7 technicians to regularly maintain the system. However, with a current field staff of 3 personnel, WCRC needed to leverage technology to support their staff in maintenance and operations, providing them the tools to be more effective, mobile, and responsive. These tools also increase the stability and robustness of the network through automatic redundancy through routing and network performance monitoring and reporting.

With the support of Integral Blue, a turn-key ITS firm that specializes in integration, maintenance, and network design; WCRC was able to reduce network bottlenecks, re-architect the IP infrastructure, create network redundancy, implement new video management software, network monitoring software, integrate new video displays for their head-end engineering staff and conference rooms, implement a new VPN for mobile management and monitoring, and overall provide a more robust, scalable network for emerging technologies and future growth.

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Integral Blue’s Role on the Project

In the planning phase, Integral Blue (IB) was brought in as a consultant to provide the concept of operations, proposed network architecture, and planning guidance including equipment recommendations, wireless network improvements for redundancy, and other end-user enhancements. As an experienced integrator and maintenance firm with hands-on knowledge of the equipment and a large team of network engineers focused on traffic/ITS, IB was able to perform additional tasks during the planning phase above and beyond the typical scope of a consulting engineering firm including:

Wireless Survey: IB’s certified tower climbers performed tower inspections of proposed licensed wireless backhaul radios and line of sight photographs at the proposed heights to ensure optimal backhaul radio placement.

In-Lab Network Mockup (Proof of Concept): IB’s network engineers worked with WCRC to obtain spare cameras and other traffic/ITS equipment, configuring them in IB’s lab for a live demonstration of the recommended routers and ethernet switch equipment

IP and Routing Scheme Development: IB consolidated existing and proposed devices into a comprehensive new IP scheme that utilizes intelligent VLANs, routing for path redundancy, future scalability of the network, and improved network security.

Video Display Collaboration: IB collaborated with WCRC and their Video Display provider, AVI Systems, to develop a cohesive video display user experience that was incorporated into the new network’s video distribution system, IP scheme, and new Video Management System (VMS).

Video Sharing Experience: With extensive experience in CCTV video sharing and distribution, IB provided design recommendations in the network and new VMS that allows for WCRC’s cameras to share video streams at multiple destinations, via mobile applications, and for future sharing with partner agencies.

Connected Vehicle Readiness: By specifying equipment that supports the latest C-V2X and DSRC standards for IPv6 and related cybersecurity, WCRC’s network was built at its foundation to support emerging connected vehicle applications.

For the Construction Phase, WCRC designated IB as the firm for project support to work with the contractor which included:

Configuration: Network routers, firewall, backhaul radios, Network Monitoring Software (NMS), and Video Management System (VMS)

Migration: Reconfiguration of all existing network devices to new VLAN architecture and routing scheme with minimal network downtime. Migrating existing device connection to new switch equipment.

Integration: Integrate new routers, project end devices, firewall, backhaul radios, NMS, and VMS, and video displays at head-end.

Testing: Systems Engineering based Acceptance Testing including local, subsystem, and final system testing with traceability to the system requirements to ensure all user requirements were successfully delivered.

Training: Training of new software systems for end users.

Role of Other Consultants Participating in the Project

Kimley Horn: Upgraded the existing KITS Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS) at WCRC including modernization to newest traffic controller standards and integration of new battery backup monitoring for traffic controllers.

AVI Systems: Provided and Integrated three new video displays at WCRC with network connectivity, data sharing, and conferencing features.

Uniqueness and/or innovative application of new or existing techniques

With a focus on real-world usability and to leverage the latest best practices in traffic and ITS design, WCRC and Integral Blue implemented multiple innovative applications on this project.

Hands-on approach during the Planning Phase: The equipment mock up with actual user traffic equipment was conducted prior to the development of special provision. A radio survey was conducted with tower climbers and bucket trucks prior to plan development to obtain a specific backhaul design prior to plan development.

Collaboration with multiple stakeholders and team members: Integral Blue with WCRC met with Kimley Horn for ATMS software, AVI Systems for video displays, and Washtenaw County’s IT departments so that all of these new systems were implemented in coordination and delivered on the needs of the user in concert with the new field Traffic/ITS network IP architecture, VPN, and video distribution system.

Mobile user management: The project had a focus on being able to provide the traffic engineers and technicians with the ability to remotely manage the traffic network while at the office, at home, or in the field. A new internet circuit with VPN was installed, the new VMS allowed for optimized web and remote viewing, and KITS traffic management made available for secure remote access.

Implementation on Live Network: Field devices were reconfigured with new IP interfaces, multicast video distribution, SNMP monitoring information, and updated security credentials while on a live network environment without significant impacts to daily operations.

Future value to the engineering or surveying profession and enhanced public awareness/enthusiasm of the role of the engineer or surveyor

Today, traffic engineering can leverage the latest technological advancements to greatly improve the daily operations, remote connectivity for signal timing optimization, and ongoing maintenance of the traffic signal system. These improvements include improved optimization of travel time to motorists through coordinated and connected signal systems, increased efficiency of maintenance staff utilization by leveraging monitoring software that can quickly identify network disruptions and provide this information to technician’s mobile devices, and the ability to share data including intersection video streams with multiple stakeholders including first responders.

Along with the great value provided to the traffic signal owner-operators today, once a solid network is established with robust bandwidth, redundancy, and routing, additional applications can be added to provide even greater value. WCRC has plans to implement many of these applications soon including an adaptive traffic management system, emergency vehicle preemption, transit signal priority, and connected vehicle applications. These current and future applications serve the motorist public through increased mobility, air quality, and vehicle safety.

Social, economic, and sustainable development considerations

WCRC with this project has optimized the traffic flow of their signal system, increased system uptime, while reducing their maintenance level of effort. The motoring public will experience improved mobility, including in the traffic networks that provide access to downtown Ann Arbor which services the University of Michigan campus and hospital. With increased mobility the community experiences reduces emissions and improved air quality.

Motorists and businesses also benefit from other traffic system improvements including the faster emergency response time from emergency vehicle preemption, transit signal priority, and engineering is underway for connected vehicle applications which will provide real-time county down to green controller information via phone app.


Modernizing traffic and ITS networks for bandwidth demanding video distribution, real-time traffic controller connectivity, and a remote and agile user interface is increasingly complex. Further, considerations are needed for cybersecurity, future growth, future technologies, and maintainability all need to be considered in context of the cost-benefit ratio of new equipment and the physical limitations of building out an entirely wireless backhaul network which is limited by line of sight between locations.

Integral Blue worked with WCRC to balance out these needs and leveraged extensive hands-on experience with integrating and maintaining networks. Layer 3 switches that support OSPFv3 requirements in CV equipment were installed at each logical node location. OSPF routing was implemented for fast, automatic rerouting to redundant paths in the event of an outage. Four new wireless backhauls links were implemented which created a ring topology to provide redundant paths and allow for data load balancing.

A Virtual Local Area Network (VLAN) IP architecture was developed that intelligently routes data traffic to logical nodes, while eliminating cross-segment data transfer where not required. Particularly complex in this project was the planning for the reconfiguration of all network devices and migration of equipment to new switches on a live network with minimal downtime. Routers were configured with new and existing network parameters to allow for data to pass during the migration process so that devices only experienced downtime of minutes or at most hours during the migration process, and never for longer than 1 day. Traffic operations were able to continue largely uninterrupted due to the careful and methodical approach to the network migration work, leveraging the new Network Monitoring Software to monitor the entire network in real-time.

Successful fulfillment of owner/client needs

After the successful implementation of this project the WCRC staff have a much more robust traffic/ITS network that is more stable with greater uptime and with additional expansion capabilities. Since they can monitor traffic signal status and view and PTZ video cameras remotely, they are more flexible and agile in their signal optimization and maintenance/operations efforts. Examples include regular reporting of network monitoring software that reports the health of network radio links and the automatic failover of redundant paths, so that if one backhaul radio fails the network will automatically reroute communications so that there is no loss of operations and the repairs can be scheduled efficiently. The enhanced system delivered on the project needs provided tremendous value by allowing a small operations and maintenance team, without the benefit of a dedicated Traffic Operations Center, to provide industry leading traffic services for the Washtenaw County community.

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