The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority is launching a new public-private partnership with WMAQ-TV NBC Channel 5 in Chicago to provide real-time traffic updates and the latest information about I-Pass at home, in the office or even on the road. The partnership was approved by the Tollways board after the local television station was chosen from a public bid process.
"The public-private partnership will allow the Illinois Tollway to take customer communications to the next level," said Executive Director Jack Hartman. "By partnering with a local television station, we can provide real-time traffic information to our customers, when they want it and where they want it, enabling drivers to make critical driving decisions to improve their commutes as they travel through the third-most congested region in the country."
In return for ywo years of exclusive access to more than 120 roadway cameras on the Illinois Tollway, NBC 5 will provide real-time traffic alerts to Tollway drivers via e-mail, PDAs and cell phones, as well as live video images online and, of course, on-air newscasts. In addition, NBC 5 will provide the Illinois Tollway with a promotional platform to promote I-Pass and other Tollway services on NBC 5, PAX TV and Telemundo. They will also include the Tollway in their sponsorship of high-profile events, such as the Chicago Auto Show.
"NBC Channel 5 is committed to bringing our viewers up-to-the-minute news, weather and traffic. Thanks to this opportunity with the Illinois Tollway, NBC5 will have picture enhanced and better informed traffic information," said NBC 5 President and General Manager Larry Wert. "Access to a comprehensive system of cameras throughout the Illinois Tollways roadways will enable us to offer unparalleled traffic information, on-air and online."
Live Tollway footage on NBC 5 newscasts, as well as Tollway promotional messages, is scheduled to begin in November once communication systems are interfaced. The next step will be to send traffic alerts to existing NBC 5 subscribers as well as any other Tollway drivers interested in receiving electronic traffic information.
The public-private partnership with NBC 5 is an example of how the Illinois Tollway continues to work to implement cost-effective, innovative methods to improve customer service for the more than 1.3 million daily Tollway drivers. Over the past year, the Illinois Tollway has expanded its customer communications network by installing additional over-the-road dynamic message signs to improve roadway information. The network of 33 dynamic message signs displays travel times, construction alerts and roadway information generated by the Tollways Traffic and Incident Management System (TIMS). TIMS also enables the Illinois Tollway to reduce congestion by immediately detecting roadway incidents and deploying the appropriate maintenance and emergency vehicles to clear the roadway quickly.
The partnership will also provide a cost-effective method of advertising I-Pass and its benefits to a large audience of television viewers as part of the Tollways efforts to inform its customers about the time and money saved by using I-Pass. This will help drive sales of I-Pass, which reduces travel times for Tollway customers and reduces congestion for everyone who drives the Tollway system.