• 05.19.16
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NTCIP is a suite of protocols that allow ITS field devices from multiple manufacturers to be controlled from a single Central system. One element of NTCIP that allows manufacturers and specifying agencies to clearly and precisely communicate the features that are supported by a field device is a Management Information Base, or MIB. A MIB is a text file that lists the objects and their supported ranges. It includes the functionality supported by the objects and is written so that it can be read by a Central system. Each NTCIP standard has a MIB that includes the mandatory and optional objects that are included in a particular standard. However, there are instances where a custom MIB is warranted.

Why create a custom MIB?

When a manufacturer has developed a new type of device or added a unique feature, one that is not standard, they often create a custom MIB. A custom MIB will accurately address the object and form the structure that supports the device’s feature. Many times, these MIBs include functionality that sets a device apart from the competition, or is a newly developed feature that is not able to be managed with a standard MIB.

Conversely, if an organization wanted to purchase a device that must include a particular non-standard feature, a custom MIB would allow them to clearly specify the functional requirements. By supplying a custom object to manufacturers, the company can communicate the exact unique functionality needed, rather than allow each manufacturer to create their own custom MIB.

A custom MIB can be written to increase the functionality provided by an existing standard MIB. In this case, the standard objects are not modified; the new custom MIB is written with objects that include the existing functionality as well as the expanded functionality. A custom MIB can also be created without reference to an existing NTCIP standard. This is typically the case when a device is not currently covered by NTCIP.

Formatting a MIB

MIBs are formatted in ASN.1 notation, which is a standard notation that describes the rules and structures of the MIB. The MIB provides information about the individual objects themselves and the object’s location within ISO Global Naming Tree. As an example, the standard dmsSignHeight object from the MIB for NTCIP 1203 – DMS is shown below.

dmsSignHeight OBJECT-TYPE
ACCESS read-only
STATUS mandatory
DESCRIPTION “Indicates the sign height in millimeters including the border (dmsVerticalBorder).
<Object Identifier>”
::= {dmsSignCfg 3}

This object allows the Central system to query a sign to determine its physical height. The SYNTAX field, along with the DESCRIPTION field, indicates that the heights available for selection range from 0 to 65.535 meters. The ACCESS field shows that the Central system can only retrieve this object; if this were an object that the Central system could change, the ACCESS field would be set to “read-write”.The last line of the example shows the object’s location within the ISO Global Naming Tree. All of the objects in NTCIP are organized in a hierarchical fashion similar to a tree, where the ISO node is the root of the tree, to which nodes are attached like branches on a tree. Each object is then positioned like a leaf on the tree. In the example, dmsSignHeight is the third leaf (the “3” at the end of the Object Identifier) of node dmsSignCfg (the “1” just before the “3”).Custom objects are organized on the ISO Global Naming Tree under the creating organization’s assigned identification number. For example, the National Electrical Manufacturer’s Association (NEMA) identifier is 1206, and the Delcan Technologies identifier is 26, so the node under which Delcan Technologies custom objects are found is

Creating a Custom MIB

From a timing perspective, a custom MIB can be developed in a few days, or a few weeks, depending upon the scope of the added features. The number and size of features is the primary driver of that determination, as a larger, more complex project would require substantially more work and coding than a smaller project.If you have a project that would benefit from the creation of custom objects, Delcan Technologies can offer a superior level of expertise in this area. Delcan Technologies, a Parsons Company, is a world leader in design and implementation of ITS solutions. We partner with our clients as consultants, developers, and contractors to support them at all levels of a project. For more information on how we can help, contact us here.

  • 04.21.16
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The Delcan Technologies embedded cards can be used either to perform as the controller in an OEM ITS device or to upgrade any existing ITS device to NTCIP conformance. They connect sensors or hardware to the device using analog or digital inputs. Data and proprietary protocols are converted to NTCIP and sent to the central system.

  • 03.03.16
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Testing a Variable Message Sign (VMS) for NTCIP compliance is a way for organizations to confirm the communication and functional elements of the sign are working properly. Section 1203 of the NTCIP standard focuses on dynamic message signs and is the data dictionary that defines sign functionality.

A successful test should confirm that information is transferred from the central system to the sign and that the sign returns a response. Once the information reaches the sign, the test should evaluate the sign’s action from an operational perspective. Common items that are reviewed during the test include:

  • Does the sign perform the action properly?
  • Did the message display properly?
  • Is the sign using the correct font?
  • Is the text centered as directed?

How are tests performed?

Typically, a sample sign is set-up in a shop environment, or a manufacturer’s facility, along with test equipment that simulates different test scenarios. Testing software (such as Device Tester) records the results of each test administered as it relates to features, functionality, and formatting. The number of scenarios to be tested is substantial and can take up to a week to be fully tested against the standard.

Why test?

Testing variable message signs is critical to ensure NTCIP compliance. Thorough testing gives a manufacturer the confidence and validation needed to guarantee compliance with the NTCIP standard. From the DOT perspective, valid VMS testing decreases the likelihood of major issues when the system introduced into an ITS environment. When all parties are working from the same NTCIP standard, the deployment process is much smoother and fewer errors are detected.

NTCIP 1203

NTCIP 1203, the library that relates to dynamic message signs, has undergone three major revisions, with each version adding more features and functionality.

  • Version 1, the initial standard, included the basic functionality to transfer a message to a sign, display the message on the actual sign and to receive information back from the sign. The standard included the brightness level of the sign, the adjustment of these levels, and the ability to set fonts.
  • Version 2 added some additional functionality, but primarily dealt with graphics and color. Graphics could be displayed on the sign up to its full size and the number of colors from which to choose was in the thousands. It also allows for centering of text and image display and the ability to create “mini signs” within the main sign space.
  • Version 3 added the ability to add formal test procedures. With more than 300 pages of formal test procedures, users can make their selection based on the features that need to be tested.

There is compatibility among versions of NTCIP between VMS signs. A Version 2 sign can successfully receive messages from a Version 1 control center; however, the combination would limit the functionality and features to whichever version is earlier. Upgrading to the newest version is ideal, but not required.

Delcan Technologies can help

Delcan Technologies, a Parsons company, is a world leader in the design and implementation of ITS systems and is involved in all stages of deployment as consultant, system developer and contractor. We provide support for manufacturers at any level. For more information on how we can assist you in your efforts, contact us here.

  • 02.18.16
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Delcan Technologies operates at the intersection of transportation and technology. We combine a diverse mix of hardware and software that works seamlessly together to solve complex transportation problems, reduce costs, provide greater efficiency and keep projects running smoothly.

We are focused on multiple technology fronts, including ITS solutions based on NTCIP (National Transportation Communication for ITS Protocol), Mobile Data Collection and Tracking (MDC) and our Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS), Intelligent NETworks.


NTCIP is a standard protocol for allowing traffic management systems to talk to intelligent transportations systems field devices such as: dynamic message signs, CCTV cameras, vehicle detection sensors, traffic signals, road weather information stations (RWIS), along with many other types of roadway devices. We provide solutions for the testing, upgrading and communicating with NTCIP compliant devices and central systems. We offer our comprehensive NTCIP expertise to manufacturers, agencies and transportation departments (DOTs) through:

  • NTCIP Testing services
  • Advising on software and NTCIP conformance issues
  • Designing NTCIP translators for existing field devices
  • Providing NTCIP specification compliance advice
  • Consulting for our hardware and software components
  • Training in NTCIP fundamentals
  • Evaluating legacy systems to ascertain their suitability for NTCIP conversion

Delcan Technologies has a talented, multi-disciplined team that is skilled in understanding ITS systems and software. We are a voting member of the Joint Committee for NTCIP standards and have been a leading member of the standards development process, playing an active role in the management and revision of the standards. Today DTI is generally acknowledged as the leading NTCIP expert in North America.

Mobile Data Collection and Tracking

Another arm of Delcan Technologies focuses on mobile data collection (MDC). One of the most expensive and labor-intensive operations performed by many states during the winter months is snow removal and roadway treatment. The mobile data tracking system by Delcan Technologies allows for the collection of real-time information on vehicle speed and spread rates, blade positions, roadway conditions and additional information on snow plow activity.

The MDC system increases safety and saves money by managing vehicle wear and tear and reducing overtime hours. It also lowers the number of road re-treatments and, in doing so, limits the amount of salt usage and reduces harmful emissions that are damaging to the environment.

A Mobile Data Collector (MDC) is placed on the vehicle you want to monitor, such as a snowplow. The MDC is configured to collect data from various sensors on the vehicle including plow blade position, road and air temperature, spreader rate, engine diagnostic information, and more. The data is then transmitted to the central system which processes the raw data and converts it into easy to understand information. Reports help provide a clear understanding of your fleet and the weather conditions in specific areas.

Delcan Technologies has the staff and expertise to manage the integration of MDC devices into your fleet. Our software team can customize the data collectors to work within your existing ATMS, and the entire installation can be modified to fit your unique environment.

Delcan is a world leader in design and implementation and is involved in all stages of deployment as a consultant, system developer, and contractor. For more information contact us here.

  • 02.04.16
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NTCIP is a widely deployed and accepted protocol for transportation communications within the United States and abroad. As the range of NTCIP continues to expand, protecting and securing transportation networks powered by NTCIP is becoming more important.

Why secure NTCIP?

There are multiple threats that every computer network faces. Automated programs and viruses frequently seek any system that is open to attack, regardless of whether it is a DOT system or not. These are not necessarily targeted attacks; they are simply individuals seeking to wreak havoc. Attacks on NTCIP based networks can also be premeditated. When a DOT system is compromised, and someone else gains control, the system can be shut down, sign messages can be manipulated, and driver safety is put at risk.

Four categories of security

The National Electrical Manufacturer Association (NEMA) Cyber Security Group has been tasked with exploring security concerns as they relate to ITS products. The group, headed by Delcan Technologies team member Russ Brookshire, is addressing standards for devices and the enclosures in which they are housed. Their goal is to establish prevention and mitigation techniques as well as to develop a method to rate security performance.

As NEMA works to identify all possible ways in which a system can be compromised, they are also looking at what steps can be taken to prevent those breaches in security. The standard is being created around four levels of security:

Physical Security

Physical security looks at the actual device to determine how well it is secured. Is the cabinet locked? Who has possession of the keys and is there a formal process when someone with key access is terminated? We assume that these safeguards are in place, but in order to create a secure system, these formal processes must be followed in every instance.

Local Access Security

Local access security addresses the field procedure once a person opens the sign cabinet. Is there immediate access or is there local password control? Is that level of security able to be bypassed?

Communication Security

Communication security deals with the method of information transfer. NTCIP offers basic security features, so it’s important to look for additional ways to secure the system. Are you passing data across a cellular network? Is it part of a public network or is it a private network? Is there a way to limit access?

Central System Security

Central system security includes the security of the actual application, which, among other things, controls the signs, monitors the cameras and reports traffic speed. This level deals with controlling access to the server and client computers, and ensuring that any security information kept on these computers is encrypted. In addition, this level of security addresses the system that controls the network of computers, and is normally handled by the IT department.

Is security a concern?

ITS security concerns are valid, but incidents are not a frequent occurrence. Occasionally there are instances of a breach, but security across any system is paramount. It’s important to have full control when you need to communicate or gather valuable information, whether that’s on an ordinary day or in a state of emergency.

  • 12.23.15
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The holiday season is upon us and we hope, among the hustle and bustle, that your home and your heart is filled with family, friends, peace and joy. May the wonder and blessings of Christmas be yours, and your celebrations be filled with laughter and happiness.

As 2016 arrives, we wish you a year full of hopes, dreams and big adventures and that it’s beauty and sparkle follow you throughout the seasons.

Have a very merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

  • 05.27.15
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The Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), the nation’s largest organization dedicated to advancing the research and deployment of Intelligent Transportation Systems, will be hosting its 25th Annual Meeting & Expo in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. More than 2,000 of the nation’s top industry business leaders, manufactures, investors, researchers, elected officials and policymakers, engineers and public sector participants will gather from May 31 through June 3, 2015 to explore the bridges to innovation through ITS technologies.

This year’s annual meeting program features keynote speeches and panels led by the transportation industry’s top innovators and government leaders. The program will cover all transportation modes, with more than 250 presentations across nearly 60 sessions and workshops, and offers more than 18,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space and nearly 100 unique exhibitors, five exciting technical tours, and networking events.

Delcan Technologies, a Parsons Company, is proud to be an exhibitor at the 2015 ITS American Expo. While you’re on the exhibit floor, be sure to visit us at Booth 327. We’d love the opportunity to meet and talk about what Delcan Technologies and Parsons can do for you!

For more detailed information on the 2015 ITS American Annual Meeting & Expo, download the program and exhibit directory here.

  • 01.29.15
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Adding touchscreen functionality to an AVL system provides an extra, dynamic level of sophistication. The technology allows operators to both view and input information versus passively transmitting data with no operator visibility.

The decision to utilize touchscreen features with an AVL system is dependent on the needs of your organization. If you only require the receipt of data points such as location, speed and engine codes then a basic AVL system might suffice. However, if you are seeking to communicate with the vehicle operator, or require operator input of data, then a touchscreen could be the right fit. Below are some of the items to consider regarding justification of a touchscreen on an AVL system.

Benefits of using a Touchscreen

Need for real-time communications with the operator– With a screen in the cab, operators can use the AVL system to both send and receive time critical information. Instead of downloading the information when they return, operators and administrators can view a wide variety of metrics as they are on the road.

Location Visibility– For the Delcan Technologies snow-plow application, buttons and interface elements on the screen can be minimized facilitating a GPS based weather map. Drivers have a full view of imminent weather in the vehicle. Vehicle status icons can be maximized at will. Having a custom map application, complete with geo-fencing data, helps ensure operators are in the proper zone and, in the case of snow, are applying the deicing material in the proper location.

Snow treatment and removal visibility- The Delcan Technologies Intelligent Snow Plow MDC system provides the operator with accuracy of blade position and material distribution. Additionally, with additional sensors, the operator can monitor when the gate is open and material is flowing. The MDC can monitor multiple sensors providing the operator with peace of mind of the job they are performing.

Delcan Technologies, a Parsons company, helps identify user needs and creates solutions that optimizes the investment in their MDC solution.

  • 01.22.15
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Automated Vehicle Location and Maintenance Decisions Support System Project

Tim Croze, P.E.
Region Support Engineer
Michigan Department of Transportation, Lansing, Michigan
Member, APWA Winter Maintenance Subcommittee

AWPW Reporter feature on Delcan Technologies Intelligent Snow Plow system for Michigan DOT Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) is a means of managing a fleet of vehicles using a global positioning system (GPS). Already in widespread use in the transit, trucking, and emergency response communities, AVL has recently been applied to winter maintenance operations. The goals encompass improving agency efficiency, reducing material usage and decreasing the time spent reporting labor, material and equipment usage.

AVL systems allow a manager to monitor the location of fleet vehicles at any given time and can be a resource management system for managing labor, equipment and materials used for various roadway maintenance functions. In addition to knowing a vehicle’s location, a robust AVL system is capable of capturing and reporting operational data from a snowplow’s on-board systems such as a DICKY-john material controller, as well as other data, including material application rates, air and pavement temperature, and the position of blades and plows. The AVL/GPS and other operational data is displayed in near-real time on a website and also stored for future reporting and data analysis. Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) recently began integrating AVL into its winter maintenance fleet.


The operational data collected by MDOT’s AVL system is processed and automatically fed into a Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS). The goal of MDSS is to provide a decision support tool for MDOT staff involved in winter maintenance operations. MDSS is used by at least 15 states across the nation. It is a tool that provides location-specific weather forecasts along snowplow routes and predicts how road conditions will change due to forecasted weather. The system recommends the most effective maintenance treatments and application rates and suggested times to apply material to maximize its effectiveness for the snowplow operators. These route-specific treatment recommendations are provided to maintenance garage supervisors on a website as well as transmitted directly to a screen for plow operators to view in near-real time.

The snowplow route treatment recommendations are based on the following information:

  • Material type and application rate based on current and predicted weather conditions
  • Desired level of service
  • Operational limitations
  • Type and thickness of pavement materials

The main impetus behind MDOT’s AVL/GPS/MDSS implementation is to provide a tool that will allow maintenance garage supervisors to make more informed decisions on how best to attack an incoming storm using real-time operational data, current and forecasted weather information and scientific models that predict how the forecasted weather will affect road conditions.

Project Implementation

MDOT is not the first agency to utilize AVL technology and MDSS services to manage its fleet and winter operations. However, MDOT’s contracting approach, scale of implementation, and accelerated timeframe for initial rollout offers a unique model, which can aid other state or local agencies what wish to leverage the benefits that AVL and MDSS services can provide.

MDOT management determined that the best contracting approach for these types of integrated services is to write the Request for Proposal (RFP) language to be all-encompassing. This means one contract is executed to meet all of the project needs. The RFP that was written and advertised included:

  • AVL equipment and services necessary for MDOT’s Winter Maintenance Trucks
  • AVL equipment for MDOT’s light fleet
  • All necessary communication services
  • Management and storage of all data collected
  • Statewide MDSS services
  • Training for MDOT staff

Under this all-encompassing contact, MDOT works directly with one vendor who is responsible for providing all equipment, securing cellular communications services, and coordinating resources to meet the needs for both AVL and MDSS mapping and reporting. The installation of AVL equipment is performed by MDOT mechanics that have been trained by the vendor.

The schedule for this project has been aggressive, but successful so far. In May 2013, MDOT’s executive leadership authorized funds and gave approval to issue and RFP for the procurement of a comprehensive AVL and MDSS solution for MDOT. The RFP was advertised in June 2013, and a signed contact was executed by mid-September, 2013. As of March 2014 AVL units and auxiliary sensors had been installed on MDOT’s fleet of 2070 snowplows. The AVL and MDSS were commissioned on November 15, 2013 and utilized all winter long by MDOT staff. Even though the systems are new to the department and not all snowplows were instrumented with AVL before winter started there are many anecdotal examples where the MDSS has saved MDOT manpower and money.

A comprehensive cost/benefit analysis of the AVL/MDSS deployment project will be completed after MDOT as had a full winter season with these new technologies.

  • 01.16.15
  • One Comment

The NTCIP standard is known as a protocol standard, but also specifies functionality required for field devices.  Were it only a protocol standard, it would be possible to test for conformance using only a protocol analyzer.  However, the standards that include test procedures always include functional testing also, such as verifying that messages are displayed correctly, cameras move appropriately, or intersection controllers cycle properly. To reflect this requirement that standards should specify functionality, many of the NTCIP standards have now been updated to conform to the Systems Engineering Process, where User Needs are listed, Functional Requirements are defined, and all elements of the final standards are traced back to these two groups of parameters.

Once the standard has been created, a remaining task of the standard is to clearly define mandatory and optional requirements, along with providing a means of communicating between the interested parties what optional requirements are needed by the specifying authority, or implemented by the manufacturer.  The section of the standard that is used for this purpose is known as the Protocol Requirements List (PRL).  In the standard, the PRL indicates whether a particular Functional Requirement is Mandatory.  All Mandatory Functional Requirements must be implemented for a device to be considered conformant to the standard.

Alternately, a Functional Requirement may be listed as Optional, in which case a Specifying Authority can require that this Functional Requirement be supported by selecting “YES” under “Support/Project Requirement” in the PRL table.  A field device provider would then be compliant with the Specifying Authority’s Specifications if this Functional Requirement is implemented.  Note that the NTCIP standards allow Optional requirements to be conditional on whether other Optional requirements have been selected, ensuring that the selected requirements “hang together” to form a working system.

In addition to being able to select optional conformance requirements, the Specifying Authority can also indicate Additional Project Requirements. For some Functional Requirements guidance has been provided by the standard in the form of fill-in-the-blank statements. In this column the Specifying Authority may also reference separate documents, such as font tables or message lists for Dynamic Message Signs.

Not only can the PRL be used by a Specifying Authority for the purpose of defining their specific needs, but the PRL can also be completed by the manufacturer of the field device to indicate the Functional Requirements supported by their device. The PRL as completed by the manufacturer would then be known as a Protocol Implementation Conformance Statement (PICS).  The PICS can then be used for several purposes.  It can be used by the Specifying Authority to verify conformance to the standard and compliance with the specification.  It can also be used by a third-party test organization to develop the Test Cases necessary to verify conformance and compliance by means of the Test Procedures.

Delcan Technologies - NTCIP PRL

Delcan Technologies, a Parsons Company, employs a full team of NTCIP experts who can guide any entity through the steps to ensure all aspects of implementing an Advanced Traffic Management System is in full compliance will industry standards.