Skip to main content

Road Weather Message System – A Solution For Efficient Communication to Manage Safe Winter Travel

Winter storms can make driving hazardous, and managing the roadways is a frenetic buzz of activity for MnDOT Operators.  Traffic operators monitor the weather and operate a vast network of roadside Dynamic Message Signs (DMS) while facing a constant stream of crashes and changing traffic conditions.

SRF partnered with MnDOT to make this process vastly more efficient.  By creating an automated interface between the national Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) system and MnDOT’s Intelligent Roadway Information System (IRIS) software messages automatically generated from National Weather Service data. Operators can now focus on high-value management tasks while the public receives the most accurate, up-to-date information.

Here’s how it works:

  • IPAWS continually aggregates data from a variety of government agencies.  The data is distributed to various “disseminators,” ranging from the Emergency Alert System to public websites.
  • The National Weather Service provides its alert information to IPAWS.
  • IPAWS formats the data into a Common Alerting Protocol or ‘CAP’ message.
  • CAP messages are published through services called Pathways.
  • IRIS connects to a pathway every 30 seconds and downloads the CAP messages.
  • IRIS identifies all message signs in the alert area.
  • IRIS then determines if a message is needed and composes appropriate text.  The system can post messages automatically or prompt an operator to review, modify, and publish them as desired.
  • When the alert expires, messages are automatically removed.
  • The Road Weather Message platform is extremely flexible, and can be adapted to any information delivered by IPAWS, such as Amber Alerts, evacuations, fire warnings, or floods.

Sophisticated, flexible automation systems like the Road Weather Message System leverage existing data sources and allow staff to focus on the highest value tasks, resulting in safer and less stressful travel for everyone.

About SRF’s DMS Technology Expert

Mark Gallagher has 25 years of experience in ITS planning, design, and implementation. He has extensive experience designing and delivering ITS hardware and software solutions. In addition to management systems like IRIS, Mark has delivered solutions, such as Automatic Vehicle Location, train/rail applications, wildlife detection systems, wide area network design and IoT/Embedded solutions.

Prior to joining SRF, he worked as a planner for the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission, where he conducted research and public facilitation for numerous projects and at Smart Route Systems as a Regional Director of Operations, where he managed a real-time traffic monitoring and operations center.

Contact Mark with your DMS project need.