By Emily Gerson, Content Marketing Specialist

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Work zones have always been a challenging area for traffic and safety engineers, as work zones see 773 fatalities each year on average. Traditionally, work zones struggled with limited, real-time public information for roadway users. Modern technology offers ways to enhance work zone information.

The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) has developed the Work Zone Data Exchange (WZDx) Specification and is working with pilot Departments of Transportation (DOTs) across the nation via the Work Zone Data Initiative (WZDi). Here’s what you need to know about it:


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What is it?

The WZDx specification aims to build industry wide consistency by standardizing the way agencies collect, organize, and disseminate Work Zone Activity Data (WZAD) in the connected driving environment using a platform-agnostic, flexible, open, and rigorous data engineering specification. WZDi is the grant program from USDOT designed to get the specification deployed with pilot DOTs across the nation.

The WZDx program (and WZDi grant program) are companions to USDOT’s Data for Automated Vehicle Integration (DAVI) and General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS). These three programs are the USDOT’s primary organizing architecture for the rapidly expanding connected and autonomous driving environment in the United States.


How does it work?

The USDOT is creating the WZDx specification and WZAD data dictionary as a standardized machine-readable and human-readable language to define work zones, WZAD collection, and dissemination across the following work zone categories:

  1. Agency Work Zone Planning and Project Coordination
  2. Before and After Work Zone Impact Analysis
  3. Construction and Maintenance Contract Monitoring
  4. Real-Time Work Zone Management and Traveler Information Provision
  5. Motoring Public Safety and Mobility Performance
  6. Law Enforcement and Emergency Services
  7. Connected and Automated Vehicle System Readiness
  8. Mobile Wayfinding Applications
  9. Fleet Service Providers
  10. Work Zone Crew and Staff Safety
  11. Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety
  12. Real-Time Detour Routing

The WZDx specification aims to simplify work zone lifecycle processes by making WZAD consistent across all areas of the transportation network. The specification does this by establishing a uniform and repeatable data architecture. The specification is open which means there are several ways to achieve this; a work zone management software is a great way to address several areas at once.


What problem will it solve?

Most importantly, with the wide adoption of the WZDx specification, real-time work zone data will be available across the nation in a standardized format. It will be easier for stakeholders to get updates and monitor progress in safety-sensitive work zone areas in real time. The specification also enhances the safety of the motoring public in work zones where the human remembered alignment is gone or a new one is being constructed. In the current hybrid driving environment and future automated driving environment, WZDx will eliminate cross jurisdictional, technological, and human boundaries. Working to create a more systematic, consistent, and safer driving environment across the nation.

Do you feel more prepared to tackle WZDx? If you still need assistance with WZDx compliance, or joining a WZDi pilot program, check out this blog or email us at communication@navjoyinc.com.