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4.7 Common Agency Systems Engineering Activities



This chapter describes agency systems engineering activities, that impact ITS, currently practiced. These activities exist in some form within most agencies. The intention is that this Guidebook will leverage these activities, to complement and not duplicate, or be in conflict with these processes. The following is a description of some common agency activities that can be leveraged for the systems engineering processes.

Configuration Management [CM] activities

Agency level configuration management is a function that is responsible for monitoring and approving changes to the hardware in the field, for example, signal controllers and communications. In some agencies this may come from the Information Technology department, or it may be called asset or resource management. This could be leveraged to perform configuration management for Intelligent Transportations Systems [ITS]. Their processes and procedures would need to be augmented to manage ITS systems development and operations & maintenance. If these procedures are not in place, a configuration management capability at the agency level will need to be developed.


Applicable agency standards from the Information Technology department should be leveraged for the systems engineering process. These standards may constrain the developers on technology choices, such as databases, software applications, workstations, and servers. This may be of great benefit when purchasing software licenses, workstations, or choosing a database and operating systems. It also may have a disadvantage in that ITS applications will be constrained to these choices and preclude better or more efficient solutions for the designers.

Feasibility process

Agencies often evaluate alternative solutions to choose the best cost/benefit solution and justify the business case for a project. These activities may have a strict internal processes defined. If available they will be used for their ITS projects during the early planning stages. For example, the State of California uses the Feasibility Study Report for the justification of IT and ITS projects. The products from this process may be used for the system engineering process for the project, such as the goals and objectives, vision, stakeholder lists, and key performance measures. Again these processes may need to be tailored to satisfy agency policy requirements.

Information Technology process and guidance activity

The Information Technology [IT] department of an agency may have resources that can be leveraged for Intelligent Transportation System developments. Most IT departments have development processes in place that focus on similar information technology applications. These same processes may be adapted for ITS. Since systems engineering integrates different disciplines, the leveraging of Information Technology processes needs to be evaluated using other domain expertise such as traffic operations. It is critical that domain expertise is involved with the tailoring of these processes.

Systems engineering capabilities for small and large agency organizations

For a small local agency implementing a single ITS project, systems engineering may be minimal [See Ch. 4.10]. It may be adequate to have the system’s owner take some training in systems engineering fundamentals and then tailor, implement, and manage the SE processes by themselves. Another option is to hire a consultant that is experienced in systems engineering [See Ch. 4.9] to perform these activities, or get available assistance from the State DOT and/or the FHWA resource centers. This support environment may be temporary and only needed for a specific project.

Larger organizations, for example an MPO or State Transportation Agency, will benefit from an established systems engineering support environment and leveraging from the existing agency activities across all of the projects. This "umbrella" systems engineering experience within an agency can lead to the following services:

  • sharing of appropriate skills needed to carry out the roles and responsibilities of each project
  • sharing experiences through lessons learned
  • independent technical reviews
  • established common approach, sharing technology, tools, and re-use of project products
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