Task Force Partners Introduce New App for Traffic Incident Responders
OAKLAND, CA — The Bay Area Incident Management Task Force (IMTF) — a multi-agency partnership that includes the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Caltrans, the California Highway Patrol, Federal Highway Administration, local law enforcement and fire departments, county coroners, the American Automobile Association, tow truck companies and others — today released a first-of-its-kind mobile application to streamline the critical exchange of traffic incident information between emergency service responders from Caltrans and other agencies.
Designed especially for use by first responders in the Bay Area, the new iPhone app, known in the App Store as Responder Incident Report, was developed by MTC in partnership with Monsoon Company and staff from Caltrans District 4’s Maintenance section and its Transportation Management Center to harness existing technology to promote real-time data sharing from responders at an incident scene. An initial field test of the $25,000 system was successfully completed in March 2015.
“The system empowers responders with an easy-to-use tool to improve interagency coordination and motorist and responder safety,” explains James Province, Chief of Emergency Toll Bridge Services for Caltrans District 4. “The app is designed to streamline the communications process by providing responders with accurate, real-time descriptions of an incident scene.”
The Responder Incident Report aims to prevent miscommunication between responders and to reduce the time spent on the roadway by ensuring appropriate equipment is dispatched quickly to the scene. Each minute saved in clearing an incident saves an estimated four minutes of traffic delay, reducing the time responders and motorists spend in harm’s way, while also easing congestion, limiting the risk of secondary incidents, and reducing tailpipe emissions.
The mobile application allows responders to snap a simple photo of an incident scene, quickly add key details and instantly send to a pre-defined group through a secure server. The application automatically captures the GPS location and arrival time for each responder and participants receive customized alerts when new information is ready for viewing.
“A picture really is worth a thousand words,” notes Radiah Victor, Transportation Management and Coordination Principal for MTC, who emphasizes the operational and safety benefits of providing response agencies a visual assessment of the incident scene. “This is a simple and inexpensive way to use existing cell phone camera and map technology to ensure responders have a common operating picture to support quick response and safe clearance of incidents.”
On average, 80 first responders or tow-truck operators are struck and killed each year, with another 20,000 injured annually, while responding to accidents on U.S. roads and bridges. At least 24 responders have been killed since 2010 in California alone. The Responder Incident Report app has the potential to reduce the duration of an incident by at least 10 minutes, reducing related delay and time that responders are exposed to unsafe highway conditions by up to 40 minutes. Because the likelihood of a secondary crash increases by 2.8 percent for each minute the primary incident continues to be a hazard, even modest reductions in incident duration can yield significant safety benefits for motorists.
MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. Caltrans owns, operates and maintains the state highway system, including seven Bay Area toll bridges. Oakland-based Monsoon Company designs, develops and markets mobile & web applications. For more information about the Responder Incident Report app, please see the project fact sheet at http://timbayarea.org/page/projects.
Myeast McCauley, Caltrans: (510) 286-5522
John Goodwin, MTC: (415) 778-5262