PennDOT Response Time Project

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Project Overview

The dissemination of information following a highway incident is a complex process involving several agencies, including but not limited to PennDOT. However, PennDOT is not currently privy to all of the information pertinent to each accident. Of particular interest is the time that elapses between incident occurring and PennDOT's knowledge of the event, and how that delay impacts PennDOT's ability to promptly respond. a highway incident

The premise of this research project is to resolve this problem and provide PennDOT with data describing the incidence response time-line including such statistics as the average response time to an incident. This will be done by determining the data necessary to understand the incident response time-line, which has thus far taken the form of incident records provided by PennDOT and the 911 call records from a number of Pennsylvania counties which have replied to our requests for information.

The first step in the project was to retrieve all the necessary records from the counties. Though these records are in the public domain, it was very difficult to obtain these records, even after we filed right to know requests. Worse, the data was returned in many different formats and lacked reliable GPS data. Hence, the records had to be manually paired with PennDOT's data.

There are several difficulties in pairing the data that arise mainly because key elements of the data, such as GPS coordinates, were missing. Also, the due to the way the data is entered by human operators, it is often difficult to completely resolve matches. An example of this is two incidents from the county records occurring within the same county at around the same time, with the same mile marker, but on different highways. If the corresponding PennDOT record describes the mile marker, but not the specific highway, it is impossible to tell which of the two county records is the correct match. This is why we focused our efforts on retrieving county 911 call center data with GPS coordinates included, as we can compare county GPS coordinates with those provided by PennDOT to resolve many otherwise ambiguous cases. Unfortunately, many counties could not extract GPS coordinates from their data.


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