California Department of Transportation


Past Conferences


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The Research Connection

The Caltrans Division of Research and Innovation is hosting monthly videoconferences on various topics. The presentations are designed to bring researchers and practitioners together to exchange information and transfer knowledge.

Ms. Mandy Chu
Ms. Mandy Chu
Senior Transportation Engineer

On Tuesday, September 23, 2008, 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM, Ms. Mandy Chu presented "The Responder System."

Mandy Chu is Senior Transportation Engineer of Caltrans Division of Research and Innovations. Mandy is leading research efforts that focus on transportation emergency response preparedness and management. She works closely with Caltrans staff from headquarters and districts as well as external partner agencies, including California Highway Patrol (CHP), Emergency Medical Services (EMS), CAL FIRE, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Western Transportation Institute (WTI) at Montana State University, to improve Caltrans’ ability to prepare for and respond to emergencies using innovative technologies and methods.

Prior to her current position, Mandy had gained extensive experiences from various offices in the Divisions of Engineering Services, Maintenance and Local Assistance. She graduated from the University of California at Davis in Civil Engineering in 1991.

Topic Description: "The Responder System"

The Responder System is a communication tool that can improve emergency response times by allowing first responders to expeditiously collect, transmit and share specific, at-scene incident information with Traffic Management Center (TMC) and secondary incident responders.
The system can be characterized as a mobile data terminal; the system includes a rugged Tablet PC, GPS, cellular/satellite modem and a digital camera. The Responder System integrates hardware, software and communications to provide incident responders, particularly those in rural areas with sparse communication coverage, with a structured and easy to use means to accurately collect and communicate at-scene information with their managers and TMC. Unique features of the system include the ability for users to capture, annotate and transmit images. Using GPS readings, the system automatically downloads local weather data, retrieves preloaded maps and aerial photo, and pinpoints the responder’s location on the maps. By simply clicking on the “Send Email” button, an email message is automatically composed and sent to the TMC operator or other parties. The system connects to the most efficient and available service (cellular or satellite) on its own; photos and sketches are compressed to minimize transmission time. With an emphasis on ease of use, the system allows responders to concentrate on work at the scene as opposed to burdens them with data input and reporting.
The Redding Responder Study was initiated as a component of the Redding Incident Management Enhancement (RIME) Program. The goal of the RIME program is to leverage the institutional relationships and technology deployments among emergency service providers to improve public safety in the region. The Responder System was named a finalist in the 2007 "Best New Service, Product or Application" Category of ITS America's Best of ITS Awards.

Please click here for the presentation slides.

Please click here for the video presentation.