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Device Networking for NTCIP Compliance

The Traffic Management Center (TMC) and Traffic Operations Center (TOC) are responsible for managing traffic flow. Traffic control devices such as ramp meters, variable message signs, lane control signs & loop detectors, located remotely, provide critical information to TMCs and from TMCs back to the traveling public. The transportation industry has a history of using proprietary communications protocols for its traffic control devices. Even within one jurisdiction, transportation departments often have had no choice but to deploy separate systems and devices for each device manufacturer. Equipment from one manufacturer was not designed to work with devices and systems from others.

In an effort to promote interoperability and interchangeability of transportation systems, the United States Federal Government began developing the National Transportation Communications for Intelligent Transportation Systems Protocol (NTCIP) in 1996. The NTCIP provides standards for communication between traffic control devices and applications, enabling traffic control systems to be built using equipment, software and protocols from a variety of manufacturers. A key requirement of the NTCIP is for authorized jurisdictions to have the ability to gain access to traffic systems of other TMC and TOC agencies.

Digi’s PortServer® TS family of terminal servers and device servers enables TMCs and TOCs to comply with NTCIP regulations, without sacrificing existing equipment and network infrastructure. They deliver simple, reliable and cost-effective network connectivity with the lowest latency of any serial-to-Ethernet solution. Available in one- to sixteen-port configurations, the PortServer TS family provides an easy way to Ethernet-enable existing EIA/232-422/485 serial devices, allowing for server consolidation and failover.

PortServer TS solutions also enable remote monitoring of devices through a TCP/IP connection, which means that devices can be diagnosed and configured without requiring access to the host server. It also means that authorized jurisdictions can utilize TCP/IP networking to easily gain access to remote systems, as outlined by the NTCIP. Digi’s patented RealPort® technology, included with all PortServer TS solutions, further simplifies the remote monitoring process by allowing existing software applications to talk to devices across the network as though the devices were directly attached to the server. In actuality, the devices are attached to a PortServer TS somewhere on the network. Unlike other COM port redirectors, RealPort minimizes network overhead and latency by multiplexing the serial data between the Digi device server and the host computer into a single connection.

Digi’s PortServer TS solutions offer a cost-effective way for TMC and TOC agencies to comply with NTCIP regulations by network-enabling traffic control devices. System updates can be easily implemented without negatively impacting existing infrastructure, enabling agencies to maintain efficient, safe and reliable traffic control operations.

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