RALEIGH — State transportation officials hope a new way for travel apps to receive data will make driving in North Carolina work zones safer.
Travel apps that warn drivers of work zones can now get the information more efficiently from the N.C. Department of Transportation under a federal initiative.
The department is partnering with one.network, a transportation technology provider of real-time work zone, road incident and event information, to more fully automate the data that popular apps, such as Google and Apple, receive to update their maps.
The company has translated NCDOT’s work zone information into Work Zone Data Exchange standard, which sets a standard way of sharing work zone data to third party apps. The Federal Highway Administration is spearheading the exchange to help make traveling safer through a more efficient way of accessing data on work zone activities across the nation.
“This improvement will lead to more timely updates for travelers using third-party map apps, making our work zones even safer,” said Kelly Wells, NCDOT’s traveler information engineer who oversees the department’s DriveNC.gov website. “And while it may seem a long ways off, this new functionality will be needed for us to better communicate with autonomous and connected vehicles in the future.”
There are currently about 300 work zones for NCDOT construction or maintenance projects across North Carolina.
Right now, various states have their own way of communicating information about road work. In some cases, third-party apps must manually update this information. States even have different ways to describe road conditions. For example, some states say “breakdown lane” when referring to the “shoulder,” and others say “blocked” lane when referencing a lane that has closed.
The Work Zone Data Exchange makes all of that data uniform. While the NCDOT has joined a handful of other states that have implemented the exchange, North Carolina has become the first to take it statewide. This improvement is possible through the partnership with one.network, which has created and will maintain the data exchange feed for the third-party apps.
“We’re thrilled to be working with North Carolina and their innovative traffic management group,” said James Harris, one.network’s founder and chief executive officer. “Making work zone data available in real-time is crucial to saving lives and reducing congestion and NCDOT is putting a stake in the ground.”
The NCDOT’s mobile-friendly website for travelers, DriveNC.gov, has not changed through this federal initiative. It functions the same for the public.