T3 Webinar Overview

Go Ahead. Rain on My Parade: Best Practices for Developing an Integrated and Effective Road Weather Information System (RWIS)

View Webinar: link to this webinar's archive materials

Originally presented under the title: Best Practices for Developing an Integrated and Effective Road Weather Information System (RWIS): Developing an RWIS Concept of Operations

Date:   October 13, 2009
Time:  1:00 PM – 2:30 PM ET
Cost:  All T3 webinars are free of charge
PDH:  1.5   View PDH Policy

T3 Webinars are brought to you by the ITS Professional Capacity Building Program (ITS PCB) at the U.S. Department of Transportation's (USDOT) ITS Joint Program Office, Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA). Reference in this webinar to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public, and does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by U.S. Department of Transportation.


Road Weather Information Systems (RWIS) can assist transportation agencies in determining current and impending road conditions, especially as they relate to the approach of weather events. This information has many uses, with one of the most important being interagency use to assist in scheduling and deploying winter maintenance activities. This information also gives roadway agencies the ability to provide real-time roadway condition information to the traveling public as weather events approach, occur, or have passed through.

RWIS consist of the hardware, software, and communications interfaces necessary to collect and transfer road weather observations from the roadway to a central location, for instance a DOT maintenance garage. While the original purpose of RWIS was to address winter weather conditions, applications have been developed to detect and monitor a variety of road weather conditions impacting road operations and maintenance. Most RWIS now consist of several meteorological and pavement condition monitoring stations strategically located near highways to help transportation managers make more informed operational decisions concerning when to conduct road maintenance operations in a safe and efficient manner. RWIS collect atmospheric, pavement surface and subsurface information, and video data to provide the most accurate pavement-specific weather information available. An Environmental Sensor Station (ESS) is considered the "collection" component of an RWIS and consists of the equipment and sensors installed within or along a roadway.

A 1991 TRB modeling study compared the benefits of using road weather information systems (RWIS) with the costs of reacting to prevailing weather conditions and found that RWIS technologies could reduce snow and ice control costs by as much as 10 percent. A 2007 Utah DOT study showed that staff meteorologists — stationed at a Traffic Operations Center providing detailed weather forecast data to winter maintenance personnel — reduced costs for snow and ice control activities, yielding a benefit-to-cost ratio of 10:1.


As with any ITS deployment, the Concept of Operations (ConOps) serves as foundation document that frames the overall system and sets the technical course for the project. The RWIS ConOps allows RWIS stakeholders to reach a shared understanding of the system to be developed and how it will be operated and maintained. The ConOps also serves as the basis for the RWIS system requirements developed in the next phase of the Systems Engineering process. The following speakers will share their experiences and best practices for developing a RWIS ConOps:

  • Mike Adams (Wisconsin DOT) will provide an overview of technical assistance resources that are available for deploying RWIS and the importance of developing a ConOps.
  • Dave Van Stensel (Michigan DOT) will present on the importance of defining and understanding the scope of work, engaging stakeholders, identifying training needs and learning from the success or failures of other agencies.
  • Scott Greene (Michigan DOT) will talk about the importance of engaging the appropriate stakeholders.
  • Dawn Gustafson (Michigan DOT) will talk about the successful outcomes of effectively deployed RWIS in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and the benefits of co-locating RWIS with existing asset inventories, such as power and communication availabilities.

Target Audience

All stakeholders that would be involved in creating an RWIS ConOps, including:

  • State and local transportation engineers.
  • Planners in Metropolitan Planning Organizations.
  • Winter road maintenance providers at State, county, municipal agencies.
  • Traffic Management Centers (TMC) personnel.
  • Law enforcement, fire, emergency management, and first responders.
  • Information technology and data providers, including agency users of RWIS data and RWIS vendors.
  • Towing and recovery operators.
  • Individuals involved in travel information services, including 511 services and State police.
  • Weather Service Providers, including NOAA/NWS, private sector surface transportation weather services.

Learning Objectives

  • Gain an understanding of the approach used to develop a ConOps for an RWIS deployment.
  • Gain an understanding of the importance of stakeholder outreach in the development of the RWIS ConOps.
  • Learn about the schedule and cost benefits of co-locating RWIS devices next to existing communications and power sources.
  • Increase awareness among RWIS stakeholders of the benefits of using a ConOps for establishing a common understanding, baseline, and framework for system development.
  • Gain an understanding about how the RWIS ConOps paves the way for the subsequent Systems Engineering phases.


Morrie Hoevel, FHWA Michigan Division Office
Morrie is the Mobility Program Engineer in the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Michigan Division Office. Morrie has been with the FHWA for over 35 years and has held positions as Traffic and Safety Engineer, Area Engineer and Urban Planner during his 30 years of service in the Michigan Division Office. Morrie has a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Purdue University. He is active in the state chapters of ITS and ITE.

In his current position Morrie has primary responsibility for the Intelligent Transportation Systems Program in the state and is transitioning to a more broad-spectrum Systems Operations and Management focus which includes ITS, Traffic Operations, Work Zone Mobility and Freight Operations. Morrie has been the ITS Program Manager for FHWA in Michigan since the program's inception in 1991. He has been directly involved with the development of ITS Regional Architectures throughout the state, as well as advancing the requirements for using the Systems Engineering approach to deploying ITS and the development of formal Concepts of Operations for ITS deployments.


Scott Greene, Michigan Department of Transportation
Scott Greene works for the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) as the Marshall Transportation Service Center (TSC) Cost & Scheduling Engineer. Since joining the MDOT in 1999 after graduating from Michigan State University with a degree in Civil Engineering, he has served in many capacities in the fields of Highway Construction, Utility relocation, Permits, Traffic & Safety, and Design Project Management.

Michael J. Adams, Wisconsin Department of Transportation
Mike is a meteorologist who the RWIS Program Manager for Wisconsin DOT (WisDOT). He graduated from Penn State with B.S. in Meteorology in 1982.

He was in the Air Force for 12 years. He held various positions as a United States Air Force weather officer supporting both flying and ground operations. He supported an Army infantry unit, NATO flying operations, and Air Force worldwide operations, and managed a weather station supporting NATO flying training operations.

He was hired by Matrix Management Group, to fill the position of RWIS Program Manager for WisDOT in September 1995. In 2002, he formed his own company, Weather Management Solutions, and assumed the contract with WisDOT. His duties include overseeing contracts for forecasting and system maintenance, researching new techniques/technologies, integrating weather information into winter maintenance operations, providing weather training for maintenance personnel, management of weather information system in rest areas, and performing forecast accuracy analysis.

Mike is a past Program Chair for Aurora, which is an international consortium dedicated to RWIS research.

David Van Stensel, P.E., Michigan Department of Transportation
David Van Stensel, P.E. has worked at the Michigan Department of Transportation for 9 years and has helped to develop the MDOT Southwest Region ITS Architecture and Deployment plan as well as ITS and RWIS Concept of Operations.

Dawn Gustafson, P.E., Michigan Department of Transportation
Dawn Gustafson has been employed by the Michigan Department of Transportation since 1994. Her recent ITS work includes: Regional ITS Architecture, RWIS, and DMS. She is also a member of the Aurora pool funded group.