North/West Passage
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Project 10.3
Evaluate Effectiveness of Citizen Reporting

Typically, state DOTs operate a road condition reporting system that inserts information and road conditions from a variety of manual and automated feed sources. The information is then disseminated to the traveling public through a variety of mechanisms including websites, 511 phone systems, and mobile applications. For example, DOT maintenance staff may enter a report into a road condition reporting system that a section of road is icy. The report is then disseminated to the public.

Many of the North/West Passage states (Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington and Wyoming) face challenges with providing frequent and updated road condition reports through their reporting systems, especially in rural areas. To address this challenge, some states are utilizing citizens as reporters to enhance the frequency of road reports which continues to be of interest to the North/West Passage members.

The focus of this project was to conduct an evaluation to document the benefits, costs, and lessons learned of agencies using citizen reporters to enhance the information sources that feed road condition reporting systems. The final report summarizes the experiences of multiple states that utilize citizens for road reports. For this evaluation two different citizen reporting approaches were reviewed.

  • State DOT Operated Citizen Reporting Programs — DOTs that developed a citizen reporting program in-house and operate and maintain the system. This includes recruiting and training citizens, developing an input mechanism for citizens to input reports, and displaying reports on DOT traveler information dissemination systems.
  • State DOT Data Sharing with Waze for Citizen Reporting — Waze is a third party data provider that allows drivers to share real-time traffic and road information that is then posted on their navigation app. DOT post selected information gathered by Waze to supplement road condition information on their traveler information websites through an agreement with Waze. In exchange, DOTs provide real-time traffic data to Waze.

In order to evaluate the benefits, costs, and lessons learned of agencies utilizing citizen reports to enhance DOT provided traveler information, states with DOT operated citizen reporting programs as well as states with data sharing agreements with Waze were interviewed through phone calls or email exchange.

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Site Updated: Jan. 5, 2024
North/West Passage