Enhancements make 511 Traveler Services
more responsive, easier to use
ITD introduced a number of enhancements to its 511 Traveler Services system the past year that will help motorists safely navigate changing highway and weather conditions.
As part of the system upgrades, ITD also unveiled a new campaign that encourages motorists to check 511 B4 U GO, by going to the Web site at 511.idaho.gov or dialing 511 toll-free from within the state.
“The 511 system is constantly evolving as we look for better ways to make it more responsive to the travel needs of Idaho motorists,” explains Alison Lantz, manager of the system. “The improvements we made the past year give Idahoans one of the most advanced systems in the country.”
To access the phone system, dial 511 from within Idaho; drivers near state borders may need to call the toll-free number, (888) 432-7623. Cell phone users are not charged for accessing the system, although cell phone service providers may charge for airtime.
ITD simplified the route-reporting process, enabling callers and Web site users to select a portion of a highway for information retrieval. In the past, telephone callers had to listen to a report for the entire length of a specific highway even when they only wanted to check a short segment. As a result, they can obtain reports faster and reduce their telephone time.
Users also can request reports for their chosen section be described according to a preferred direction of travel, such as from east to west, or west to east.
Telephone users also should find it easier to locate a closure, a highway incident or condition report because of enhancements made to route identification.
The improved system identifies the location of events in reference to Idaho cities and towns, rather than mileposts or lesser-known geographic points, such as local roads. A message now will indicate that an event is in a city, near a city or a number of miles in
a specified direction from a city.
Visitors to the 511.idaho.gov Web site now have several options from which to choose. For users of dial-up modems, Web users can pick a low bandwidth option that offers fewer graphics. A high bandwidth option is geared for Internet connections on faster connections, such as DSL, cable modem or satellite.
The high bandwidth site includes Google Map technology that provides terrain or satellite imagery. It also offers a number of other graphics-based features not available on the low bandwidth option.
This year, ITD introduced a new Mobile Web option for handheld devices – including cell phones – that have Web browsers. Highway reports and camera images can be checked on smart phones and similar devices. To access the reports, users should enter 511.idaho.gov in the Web address of their mobile browser.
ITD also is aggressively adding new highway cameras where possible and upgrading existing equipment to provide motorists with real-time highway views. In the past year, ITD added 19 new single-image sites and three others were upgraded to include a new camera.
“We hope these system enhancements will make travel safer and less stressful for motorists,” Lantz explains. “Taking a few minutes to check highway conditions before heading out this winter will make the driving experience more enjoyable.
“ITD will continue to look for ways to improve the system and welcome suggestions from the public.”