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ConnectSmart: Bringing Active Transportation Demand Management (ATDM) Vision to Deployment

Figure 1

  ATDM Overview (Source: FHWA)

Efficiently managing congestion is a multifaceted challenge that demands innovative solutions to optimize existing infrastructure while providing travelers with seamless mobility choices and information on their travel.

Enter ConnectSmart, a groundbreaking program spearheaded by the Texas Department of Transportation Houston District (TxDOT HOU) and funded through the USDOT Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment (ATCMTD) grant in 2016, revolutionizing how we approach transportation management.

ConnectSmart is more than just a program, it's a strategic initiative designed to bring FHWA’s vision of Active Transportation Demand Management (ATDM) closer to reality.

At its core, ATDM focuses on dynamically managing decisions along the entire traveler trip chain (consisting of stopovers, drop-offs, pickups, and various mode uses), empowering travelers to make informed choices in real-time. ConnectSmart aims to achieve ATDM’s vision through a sophisticated blend of technology, data analysis, and proactive strategies, all aimed at enhancing the safety, reliability, and efficiency of our regional transportation system. 

Key components of ConnectSmart include:

  • Integration of advanced mobility technologies and data sources to provide predictive trip information

  • Promotion of sustainable mobility options to reduce congestion

  • User engagement through behavior-changing techniques

  • Strengthening partnerships among regional transportation agencies

ConnectSmart’s Congestion Management System (CS-CMS)

At the heart of ConnectSmart lies its Congestion Management System (CS-CMS), a deployment focused on implementing user-centric Active Demand Management (ADM) strategies. The CS-CMS is a complex engine that ingests and analyzes various data sources, including traffic data, incident reports, live camera feeds, and transit alerts among others to generate actionable user communications (through the ConnectSmart app) that help to mitigate recurring and nonrecurring congestion.

Figure 2

ConnectSmart’s Congestion Management System (CS-CMS)

ConnectSmart’s regional data sources include:

  • TranStar - traffic incidents, live traffic camera feeds, and traffic message signs

  • City of Houston - on-street and airport parking availability

  • Houston METRO - transit schedule and alerts

  • 3rd party data - travel times, off-street parking availability, and school zone alerts

Once ingested into CS-CMS, the data sources can be easily accessed to support user’s personalized and contextually relevant travel alerts and mobility recommendations, regional safety and outreach campaigns (e.g., Don’t Drink and Drive, Earth Month) as well as regional programs such as the Tow & Go™ and Commute Solutions.

Central to the CS-CMS is the ConnectSmart mobility app. ConnectSmart transcends the traditional Mobility as a Service (MaaS) concept by integrating:

  • A robust behavior engine to promote alternative mobility options

  • An innovative mobility wallet with dual currency to promote seamless payments across Transportation Service Providers (TSP)

  • An expansive Intermodal Engine to support trip planning and navigation for various transportation modes

  • Safety features such as integration with school zones and Tow and Go

  • An Advanced Traveler Information System (ATIS) to communicate personalized alerts and mobility options directly to the individual user

By harnessing the power of technology and collaboration, ConnectSmart is paving the way for a more efficient and sustainable transportation future. Together, we're navigating towards a future where transportation is smarter, safer, and more accessible for everyone. Join us on this journey towards a better-connected tomorrow.


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