WYDOT-Google agreement aims to prevent stranded motorists

CHEYENNE (WNE) — When snow, high winds and other severe weather conditions require the Wyoming Department of Transportation to close Interstate 80 — one of the nation’s primary east-west highways — conditions on secondary roads are often even more dangerous. Yet without sufficient data, some navigational apps may reroute I-80 motorists and commercial vehicle operators onto those very roads.
WYDOT is now working to improve safety and facilitate the efficient movement of freight by sharing road-closure data directly with Google and other navigation companies. Expanding access to road-closure data is especially critical in March and April, which are historically the state’s snowiest months.
Navigational apps generally report road closures and recommend alternate routes based on data collected from other drivers who are using the app. As a result, information about infrequently traveled local roads may not be updated often enough to reflect fast-changing conditions.
In Wyoming, some I-80 motorists following suggested detours have ended up stranded on inaccessible roads without fuel, food or water.
This also creates hazards for the Wyoming Highway Patrol and other emergency responders tasked with finding and rescuing these motorists. To help prevent such emergencies, WYDOT has expanded third-party access to a powerful tool known as the Situation Data Exchange,v or SDX.
The SDX stores and distributes data collected from wirelessly connected vehicles, including WYDOT fleet vehicles and snowplows. WYDOT also consults with individual counties to include information on local and conditional closures. Navigation companies with access to the SDX will have a new, reliable source of real-time travel information including weather advisories, variable speed limits, road closure notifications and vehicle weight restrictions.
WYDOT hopes to finalize agreements with Apple and other navigation system providers in the near future to ensure that accurate, up-to-date travel information is available to as many motorists as possible.