Transportation Safety Advancement Group (TSAG) Annual Public Safety Research Assessment and Knowledge Transfer Report

Transportation Safety Advancement Group (TSAG) Annual Public Safety Research Assessment and Knowledge Transfer Report

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TSAG logo - Transportation Safety Advancement Group - Promoting Technology for Public Safety

Transportation Safety Advancement Group (TSAG) Annual Public Safety Research Assessment and Knowledge Transfer Report

July 28, 2021

Two logos - ITE logo (Institute of Transportation Engineers - A Community of Transportation Professionals) on the left and Pat Noyes & Associates logo on the right.


Transportation Safety Advancement Group (TSAG) Annual Public Safety Research Assessment and Knowledge Transfer Report

July 28, 2021


This document summarizes recent research and publications related to improving the safety of responders and the public at traffic incidents. This work contains elements which are either directly or indirectly relevant to the emergency response community and TSAG Communities of Interest. The references cited are intended to support TSAG's 2021 Roadmap for Advancing TSAG Recommendations. Many of the advancements in transportation safety and the emergency responder community have been through the enhanced instrumentation of emergency vehicles and transportation infrastructure, the development of connected vehicles and vehicle automation, and enhancements to communication technology and applications. They include enhanced data gathering capabilities for the roadway environment in areas such as traffic and weather conditions to provide emergency responders with enhanced decision-making capabilities to reach the site of a crash, disaster, or medical emergency more efficiently. They also touch on emerging research, looking at the application of big data analytics, collaborative information sharing among vehicles deploying automated driving systems, and the use of data available through Smart Cities, Cloud computing, and the Internet of Things. In the past few years, greater attention has been given to increasing the safety and situational awareness of emergency responders once they have left a vehicle, and to enhance safety in the more complex environments in which these individuals operate. The research presented here supports recent TSAG project topics and recommendations, and includes research initiatives in various federal agencies.

TMC-PSAP Integration

In 2020, TSAG looked at the opportunities and challenges of integrating traffic management center (TMC) and public safety answering point (PSAP) data and information systems. This included interviews with five agencies that had worked to integrate information between traffic operations and public safety, and was summarized in the 2020 TMC-PSAP Integration White Paper (TSAG, 2020) In February 2021, the FHWA Office of Operations published Integrating Computer-Aided Dispatch Data with Traffic Management Centers (FHWA Office of Operations, 2021). This report serves as a primer for integrating data from public safety computer aided dispatch (CAD) systems and traffic operations systems to improve incident response, responder safety, and the safety of system users. It includes case studies of data-sharing partnerships and discusses practices to advance data sharing between public safety and transportation agencies. The document includes discussion on the benefits of and methods for sharing data, making the case for CAD-TMC integration, the challenges to implementation, and strategies to advance CAD data integration.

Connected and Automated Vehicles

TSAG published a white paper on CV/AV Needs Specific to Emergency Response in May 2020 (TSAG, 2020). This work was based on a literature review and survey sent to the TSAG communities of interest to identity issues associated with public safety response related to connected and automated vehicles. The following research and publication outlines work in this area available after the development of the white paper.

The Police Executive Research Forum and the RAND Corporation convened a workshop in July 2019, on behalf of the National Institute of Justice to address law enforcement needs related to autonomous vehicles. The workshop explored public safety scenarios involving autonomous vehicles on roadways and law enforcement. It looked at four categories of law enforcement interactions: traffic stops, collisions, emergencies, and tangential interactions such as autonomous vehicles as a source of evidence. The workshop participants identified and prioritized law enforcement needs in each of the categories. The needs were summarized in the following areas: cybersecurity and a means of communicating with the autonomous vehicle, owner, or remote operator; stakeholder communication and collaboration; and standard procedures, guidelines, and training for law enforcement on interactions with autonomous vehicles. Recommendations from this work include research, demonstrations, and model guidance in these areas. (Goodison, 2020)

In 2020, the Automated Vehicle Safety Consortium issued a best practice document to provide a framework of recommended procedures and protocols that automated driving system (ADS) developers and manufactures can use to address first responder interactions in a variety of situations. It recommended development of a first responder interaction plan to support development of responder protocols, procedures, and plans for interactions with ADS vehicles. The Best Practice for First Responder Interactions with Fleet-Managed Automated Driving System-Dedicated Vehicles (ADS-DVs) includes definitions of roles in emergency situations; descriptions of expected interactions between first responders and ADS; recommendations to improve first responder interactions with ADS; and a first responder interaction plan framework. (Automated Vehicle Safety Consortium, 2020)

Recent research looked at the use of virtual emergency lanes by automated vehicles reacting to emergency vehicles to eliminate human indecision and error, and reduce response times. Local response data was used to model the effectiveness of virtual emergency lanes under three levels of connected and automated vehicle CAV scenarios: 0%, 50%, and 100% and under varying roadway configurations. The model showed that response time savings would increase with automated vehicle market penetration. In addition to the response time savings with automated vehicle technology, the study determined that connectivity can also reduce response time. (Obenauf, 2019)

Research in Wyoming looked at how connected vehicle (CV) technology can be used to communicate timely road and traveler information messages (TIMs) to highway patrol troopers, to reduce the frequency and severity of crashes. The Wyoming Highway Patrol investigates more than 7,000 vehicle crashes a year, often acting as first responders and driving at high speeds in difficult road and weather conditions. The Connected Vehicle Training Framework and Lessons Learned to Improve Safety of Highway Patrol Troopers looked at research on a first responder-specific training program on the safe interaction with the technology and an in-depth assessment of how these new technologies are perceived by the troopers. The training program developed in this research includes an e-training module and a hands-on driving simulator training module. The program presents various CV warnings and notifications, including forward collision warning (FCW), spot weather warnings, work zone warnings, and other TIMs. It includes scenarios to familiarize troopers with simulated driving, mastering the two warnings (FCW and variable speed limit), and multiple-alert scenarios to train the troopers to drive in a comprehensive connected environment. (Biraj Subedi, 2020)

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) has initiated NCHRP 20-102(16): Impacts of Connected, Automated Vehicle Technologies on Traffic Incident Management. A request for proposal was issued in June 2021 for this project. The objective of the project is to develop guidance for emergency responders in preparation of deployment of connected, automated vehicle technologies. It will look at the impact of connected, automated technologies on incident response, effective practices to address emergency responder needs, and recommendations to incorporate the perspectives of emergency responders in the development of connected, automated vehicle technologies.

US DOT continues to lead research in connected and automated vehicle technology and cooperative driving automation. FHWA's CARMA program "uses a multimodal approach to encourage collaborative research on the technology, open source tools, and frameworks poised to improve transportation system mobility, safety, and efficiency." The program focuses on cooperative driving automation (CDA) to advance research and development of CDA concepts. One of CARMA's three research tracks is reliability, which looks at CDA applications in nonrecurring congestion, including traffic incidents. (FHWA, 2021)

Responder Connectivity and Communications

The National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) published Emerging EMS Technology: Use Case Analysis of Broadband Capabilities to Support Operations and Patient Care in 2020. This report focuses on benefits and challenges of emerging technology and its impact on emergency medical services (EMS). These technologies include sensor-based alert and automated detection technologies, new methods of interacting with 9-1-1 callers including data and video feeds, enhanced situational awareness through sensors and imagery data, applications to enhance patient care and scene management, real-time data and artificial intelligence solutions to support patient transport decisions, and aggregation of EMS data. (Joint Working Group on EMS Communications and Technology, NPSTC and NASEMSO, 2020)

The working group identified five high priority recommendations to accelerate development and adoptions of technology applications in EMS. These include:

  • Collaboration between EMS and industry to ensure technology applications are designed for mission critical response and patient care;
  • Regional collaboration among EMS responders and care providers;
  • Research to identify high value data elements in technologies that transfer data;
  • Collaboration between EMS agencies and hospital emergency departments to examine how incident data flows between responders and the hospital, how it should be shared and stored, and who the custodian of the data is; and
  • Caution among EMS agencies in the adoption of new technology to understand all aspects of purchasing, installing, and managing the systems.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) Usability Team conducted a multi-phase, mixed-methods research project to gain greater understanding of the experiences and technology needs of public safety responders. Findings suggested that greater access to affordable devices, data, email, and mapping/navigation applications is needed. The researchers also determined that technology that addresses the needs of daily incident response should be the focus, which will also help responders during larger events. Figure 1 summarizes key findings of the nationwide survey of public safety responders. (Dawkins, 2020)


Graphical layout of the NIST Survey Results entitled Voices of First Responders - Nationwide Public Safety Communication Survey Findings - Mobile Devices, Applications, and Futuristic Technology - NIST Usability Team. The survey results are organized in a layout of four primary sections, one on top of the other. The first part has the following items and text: An icon of a stadium and a tornado next to the text: 80% use the same technology for day-to-day incident response and large events, planned and unplanned. Then an icon for email next to the text: 90% frequently use email. Then an icon of a smartphone next to the text: 70% frequently have smartphone problems with battery life, price, or coverage, and 2X more use personal smartphones than work smartphones. Then an icon of emergency services. Then an icon of a person with a padlock next to the text 50% think one login (single sign on) for their devices would be useful. The next section has three boxes with icons for Emergency Medical Services with the text 50% think technology to auto-send patient vitals to hospitals would be useful, and 80% frequently use EPCRs. Another box with Fire Service icons has the text 50% think automatic vehicle location would be useful, and 80% use mapping/navigation, hydrant location. Another box with Law Enforcement icons has the text 40% think facial recognition would be useful and 90% use criminal databases, electronic policies/laws. The next section has a series of boxes about 9-1-1 Call Takers and Dispatchers with the text 70% think automatic caller location would be useful, 90% frequently use CAD, 75% think receiving texts would be beneficial, 50% think receiving pictures/videos would be beneficial, and 75% think NG9-1-1 would be helpful. The bottom section is a footer with the text Data based on a nationwide US survey of the first responders conducted by the NIST PSCR Usability Team. Survey results available at - Published Sept 2020. NIST - National Institute of Standards and Technology - US Department of Commerce.

Figure 1: NIST Survey Results

Infrastructure to Responder

Infrastructure to responder (I2R) uses information available through the digital infrastructure, technology, and applications to push warnings and information to responders through handheld or worn devices and to response vehicles. It connects the Internet of Things (IoT), Smart Communities, and geospatial data to provide scene critical operations and responder safety. TSAG published an Infrastructure to Responder (I2R) Technical Memo (TSAG, 2019) in January 2019, and an Infrastructure to Responder (I2R) White Paper (TSAG, 2019) in February 2019. More recent and ongoing related research is discussed here.

The NPSTC Public Safety Internet of Things (PSIoT) Work Group developed the Public Safety Internet of Things: Outreach Report to Public Safety in 2020. This report was developed to complement the Public Safety Internet of Things (IoT) Use Case Report and Assessment Attributes, published in 2019. The outreach report provides guidance to public safety and information technology agency leaders and technical staff considering adoption of PSIoT technology to transform raw sensor data into actionable intelligence for first responders. This actionable intelligence is aggregated from a virtually unlimited number of connected devices and provides benefits across all public safety disciplines. These benefits include increased situational awareness, enhanced common operating picture, improved responder health and safety, improved access to lifesaving patient data, and efficiency and cost-saving benefits. The report notes that these benefits come with related challenges and provides information and resources to help agencies navigate through the PSIoT planning and evaluation process. It provides key success factors for applying PSIoT technologies. (NPSTC, 2020)

The Roadway Worker Protection Secondary Warning Device and Employee in Charge Software System (EICSS) report looks at the performance and results of the use of a secondary warning device for roadway workers. This system provides a visual and audible warning alert to train operators of workers ahead, as well as advance visual and audible warnings to track workers of an approaching train. In this research, Sacramento Regional Transit District partnered with Protran Technology to demonstrate a software system that uses smartphone technology to track roadway workers along the transit track alignment. This application has implications for public safety responders located along the alignment as well. (Cormiae, 2021)

An upcoming NCHRP project, NCHRP IDEA 20-30/IDEA 226: A Smart IoT Proximity Alert System for Highway Work Zone Safety, will develop and validate a smart IoT proximity alert system for proactive safety warnings in roadway work zones. This work is focused on roadway workers and would also apply to public safety responders at roadway incidents. The project will develop and prototype a warning system including both personal and equipment protection units. It will also develop a mesh network and server system for connectivity and to collect and analyze data. The prototype will then be tested in real-world field conditions for effectiveness. The results will be used to initiate beta testing and commercialization planning. (TRB, 2020)


TSAG looked at the benefits, challenges, and opportunities for AACN in its April 2019, Advanced Automatic Collision Notification (AACN) White Paper. (TSAG, 2019) The following references are more recent work in the area of AACN.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published the Advanced Automatic Collision Notification Research Report in 2019. The report describes recent progress made by NHTSA to understand the safety potential and technical considerations of post-crash technologies such as automatic collision notification (ACN) and advanced automatic collision notification (AACN). The research looked at target populations who may benefit from AACN, injury prediction algorithms used by AACN systems, and estimates of costs and benefits potentially realized with AACN. The report includes recommendations on a test procedure to evaluate AACN system performance, focused on the equipment and methods needed for detecting the presence of communication with a telematic service provider (TSP) or public safety answering point (PSAP). This research is important to advancing the use and acceptance of AACN by the public safety community. It provides general information on how AACN works and the lifesaving benefits from its application. It also outlines a framework for testing AACN systems, essential for advancing its use and improving the technology. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2019)

A 2020 publication, Emergency Response to Vehicle Collisions: Feedback from Emergency Medical Service Providers, reports on a study to identify emergency medical technicians' (EMT) perceptions of the most pressing issues experienced when responding to motor vehicle collisions. The study recorded their opinions about the information needed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of patient care. The study included one-on-one structured interviews about the EMT's experiences responding to motor vehicle collisions and collected feedback on dispatching procedures and protocols, travel to and from the scene, and the response process. Issues reported included difficulties resulting from the lack of or inaccuracies in information, interactions with traffic, incompatibility in communication technology, scene safety, resource management, and obtaining timely notifications of motor vehicle collisions. The study found that early and widespread availability of information related to the vehicle and its occupants would aid emergency responders in coordinating necessary resources, optimize service in situations with multiple motor vehicle collisions, and improve on-scene responder safety. It also notes that ACN/AACN systems would improve response time, which may reduce fatalities and decrease the severity of non-fatal injuries. The study looked at current near-real time information applications for motor vehicle crashes and determined a need for additional information and data elements that are relevant to EMTs. (Valente, 2020)

Other Related Publications

FHWA's current Everyday Counts program (EDC-6) includes a project on crowdsourcing for operations, which looks at how crowdsourcing uses information collected from transportation system users into real-time sensors on traffic conditions. This data can be combined with traditional data to help agencies implement a range of real-time management strategies to improve safety, reliability, and efficiency. This data can be used to support traffic incident management and enhance situational awareness for public safety responders. (FHWA, 2021)

A recent study presented at the TRB Annual Meeting in 2021 looks at emergency vehicle priority control based on connective vehicle technology with consideration of current traffic, including the presence of freight vehicles in the dilemma zone on an opposing movement. This is important to minimizing potential conflicts between emergency response vehicles and freight vehicles unable to clear an intersection safely during an emergency signal preemption. This research has implications for connected vehicle-based priority control systems and responder and driver safety. (Das, 2021)

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) published its 2021-2022 NTSB Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements. These include requiring collision-avoidance and connected-vehicle technologies on all vehicles, which can warn a driver of an upcoming hazard and to take avoidance actions if the driver does not respond. This would enhance the safety of emergency responders on scene and those responding to an incident. This recommendation suggests the need for comprehensive performance standards and inclusion of this information in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) vehicle safety rating program. (National Transportation Safety Board, 2021)

A 2019 NCHRP study looked at the opportunities to use big data to improve traffic incident management. The study looked at 32 sources of data to determine the maturity and usability of the data for big data analytics. Data collected from statewide crash records and from emergency medical system, traffic management center, and connected vehicle data was studied to identify opportunities to use the information in big data analytics. Big data analytics uses data differently from traditional data analysis. It collects and stores data in its original form and runs analytics designed specifically for big data to explore the data for trends and relationships. The analytics can be repeated as new data becomes available and is designed to produce actionable information. The report explored the opportunities to use big data to enhance traffic incident management (TIM) practices and the challenges facing the use of big data in TIM. Some of the challenges identified include data silos, interoperability, privacy, public records laws, data retention, proprietary data, issues associated with emerging forms of data, security, technical expertise, and concerns with cloud usage. The final report developed guidelines on the use of big data for TIM to overcome challenges and improve TIM. (Pecheux, Pecheux, & Carrick, 2019)

Works Cited

Automated Vehicle Safety Consortium. (2020). Best Practice for First Responder Interactions with Fleet-Managed Automated Driving System-Dedicated Vehicles (ADS-DVs). SAE ITC.

Biraj Subedi, e. (2020). Connected Vehicle Training Framework and Lessons Learned to Improve Safety of Highway Patrol Troopers. Journal of the Transportation Research Board, 447-463.

Cormiae, M. (2021). Roadway Worker Protection Secondary Warning Device and Employee in Charge Software System (EICSS). Washington: Federal Transit Administration.

Das, D. e. (2021). Traffic Signal Pirority Control Strategy for Connected Emergency Vehciles with Dilemma Zone Protection for Freight Vehicles. Transportation Research Board 100th Annual Meeting. Washington: TRB.

Dawkins, S. e. (2020). Voices of First Responders—Nationwide Public Safety Communication Survey Findings: Mobile Devices, Applications, and Futuristic Technology, Phase 2, Volume 2. NIST, US Department of Commerce.

FHWA. (2021, April 22). CARMA Prgram Overview. Retrieved from CARMA:

FHWA. (2021). FHWA EDC-6 Crowdsourcing for Operations. Retrieved from

FHWA Office of Operations. (2021). Integrating Computer-aided Dispatch Data with Traffic Management Centers. Washingon: US DOT FHWA.

Goodison, S. E. (2020). Autonomous Road Vehicles and Law Enorcement: Identifying High-Priority Needs for Law Enforcement Interactions with Autonmous Vehciles within the Next Five ears. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation.

Joint Working Group on EMS Communications and Technology, NPSTC and NASEMSO. (2020). Emerging EMS Technology: Use Case Analysis of Broadband Capabilities to Support Operations and Patient Care. National Public Safety Telecommunications Council.

National Highway Trafffic Safety Administration. (2019). Advanced Automatic Collision Notification Research Report. Washington: US DOT NHTSA.

National Transportation Safety Board. (2021, April 6). Require Collision-Avoidance and Connected-Vehicle Technologies on All Vehicles. Retrieved from 2021-2022 NTSB Most Wanted List of Transporation Safety Improvements:

NPSTC. (2020). Public Safety Internet of Things: Outreach Report to Public Safety. NPSTC.

Obenauf, A. W. (2019). Impact of Self-driving and Connected Vehicles on Emergency Response: The Case of the USA and Implications for Italy.

Pecheux, K., Pecheux, B., & Carrick, G. (2019). NCHRP 17-75: Leveraging Big Data to Improve Traffic Incident Management. Washington: TRB.

Transportation Research Board. (2018). Transportation Research Board. Retrieved from NCHRP 20-102(16) [Anticipated]:

TRB. (2020). NCHRP IDEA 20/30 IDEA 226. Retrieved from A Smart IoT Proximity Alert System for Highway Work Zone Safety:

TSAG. (2019). Advanced Automatic Collision Notification (AACN) White Paper. Washington: ITE.

TSAG. (2019). Infrastructure to Reponder (I2R) White Paper. Washington: ITE.

TSAG. (2019). Infrastructure to Responder (I2R) Technical Memo. Washington: ITE.

TSAG. (2020). CV/AV Needs Specific to Emergency Response White Paper. Washington: ITE.

TSAG. (2020). TMC-PSAP Integration White Paper. Washington: US DOT ITS-JPO.

Valente, J. T. (2020). Emertency Response to Vehicle Collisions: Feedback from Emergncy Medical Service Providers. Safety, 48.


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