Emergency/incident management


Emergency/incident Management is normally handled through the CAD/AVM system. In general, the strategies for emergency/incident management are developed at a broader organisational level, and involve many stakeholders including the CAD/AVM system.

Emergency/incidents can be clustered in three levels, which have differing levels of response:

  • Individual vehicle or location
  • Impacting only the public transport services
  • Impacting the urban area and utilities, of which public transport is one

Emergency/incidents cover the following scenarios:

  • Breakdown of vehicle or collision, requiring technical assistance or replacement
  • Collision, illness or other non-criminal incident requiring medical support
  • Assault, aggressive or security incident, requiring police/security response
  • Pre-advised diversion or restriction due to road construction/repairs or other cause
  • Unplanned diversion or restriction
  • Weather-related events and restrictions
  • Events, requiring diversions and/or additional services

For the most part, when such incidents occur, the Operations Management is achieved through the CAD/AVM system, and the Route Condition Monitoring and Schedule Adherence applications as described above. Procedures are developed for various incident types, and activated as required.

Specific ITS supports for emergency/incident management include:

  • Alarm/alert initiated by the driver. This can override the normal communication protocols and get priority alert to the dispatcher.
  • For known disruptions (e.g. planned road work, events) temporary route diversions, temporary schedules and adjusted sectional running times can be pre-programmed into the CAD/AVM system and activated for the period of the works
  • For occasional disruptions (e.g. key street unavailable), alternative plans can be stored within the CAD/AVM system, and activated whenever a trigger event occurs (e.g. weather alert, demonstration).
  • Data exchange among the transportation and security agencies
  • Traffic signal adjustment in the vicinity of the disruption areas

In some CAD/AVM systems, there is a dedicated or nominated workstation which takes over the management of specific categories of emergency/incident. This ensures that appropriately-trained personnel handle the incident. At the same time, it allows the other dispatchers to remain focussed on the normal operations. In a few cities, there is a dedicated incident response facility for all transportation modes or the entire urban area. When specified or major incidents occur, the CAD/AVM system hands the emergency/incident over to the specialist unit.

Technologies, data and resources

Most emergency/incident functionality is handled through the standard CAD/AVM system. Specific ITS-related technologies include:

  • Open and hidden alarm buttons are usually installed in the drivers’ cab to enable them communicate the situation to the dispatcher centre
  • Driver consoles frequently have pre-set buttons for specific emergency/incident types

Data used for emergency/incident management include:

  • Vehicle location data, alarm status
  • Alternative routes, schedules and running times for various incident types
  • Alternate traffic signal and priority configurations

Advantages and Cautions

The primary advantages of Emergency/Incident Management modules are to:

  • respond quickly and effectively to emergencies and incidents
  • assure the safety of personnel and passengers
  • hold alternate plans and schedules with the CAD/AVM system for activation at planned time or in response to trigger events
  • facilitate a consistent response by all layers of the organisation

The principal cautions in relation to Emergency/Incident Management are:

  • response procedures for various emergencies and incidents need to be designed and documented, and all personnel need to be trained
  • responses need to be tested, reviewed after incidents, and revised if necessary. This requires a structured approach
  • integration of approach is required with external agencies including the traffic authorities and the police

Relevant Case Studies

Florence, Prince William County, Zurich