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May 2015

IDriveArkansas offers Arkansas drivers a feature-filled alternative to standard traffic apps

 

With IDriveArkansas and its Web portal IDriveArkansas.com, the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD), in partnership with the Information Network of Arkansas (INA), created a Web-based traffic app that aims to take the place of apps like Waze or INRIX for Arkansas drivers. Like these popular national driving information apps, IDriveArkansas provides users with real-time data about traffic issues; however, there are a few key features that set IDriveArkansas apart.

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Arkansas citizens and news organizations use the IDriveArkansas application and Web portal for the latest news on road conditions.

“Where we differ from the national platforms is all of our information comes directly from the AHTD,” says Danny Straessle, assistant public information officer for the AHTD and project manager of IDriveArkansas. “What I mean is, we’re not using [user-submitted information, also known as crowdsourcing] for any of our data, so we can control the integrity of that data. We directly populate all of the data, so when work zones come online, they go on the map and stay there until construction is finished.”

Other information users can find on IDriveArkansas that is often absent from national apps includes locations of rest areas, welcome centers and commuter park and ride lots; alternate routes for avoiding construction; a winter weather road conditions map; and the ability for users to give feedback about the app or ask questions of the AHTD. These additions make the app not only more useful for civilian drivers, but also for government employees, including staff at the AHTD.

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IDriveArkansas provides details about construction on Arkansas highways. 

“We use IDriveArkansas in the public information office daily,” says Straessle. “Our field personnel use it, radio dispatch uses it and dispatchers who communicate with law enforcement use it as well. Our employees who travel the state use it just as a member of the public would.”

And members of the public are certainly using the app. Since its launch in 2013, IDriveArkansas.com has seen 1.3 million unique visitors, which represents over 60 percent of Arkansas drivers.

Bob Sanders, general manager of INA, attributes the success of the product to the strong partnership between INA and the AHTD. “We have a very good, highly collaborative working relationship,” says Sanders. “Danny had a million ideas of what he wanted to see [in IDriveArkansas], so our job was really taking his creativity and making it a reality.”

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Weather radar provided by the Weather Channel can be displayed on the map so drivers can see when severe weather is coming. This past February, the site had a record number of 236,000 visits during winter weather events.

Straessle agrees with Sanders, emphasizing how quickly INA was able to get a grasp of the details of the project. “[INA] caught on really fast as to how we function,” says Straessle. “They began to speak our language and learn our process, so our collaboration has worked out very well. Just about every week we have a project meeting, which is very productive and helps us get a good handle on what we’re doing and where we’re going.”

The plan for the future of IDriveArkansas is to continue this successful partnership. Straessle and Sanders have been discussing ways to increase the functionality of the app. Possible upcoming features include the ability for users to program their commute into the app and then receive notifications on alternate routes if there is construction on the regular path, and an interface for wearable technology, such as the Apple Watch or Samsung Gear.