AWS Public Sector Blog

Next generation transportation tolling, enabled by the cloud

Westbound tunnel Elizabeth River Crossings

Photo courtesy David C. Sullivan of Elizabeth River Crossings OpCo, LLC

Toll operators are recognizing that facility and data resiliency are the key to navigating the current environment while preparing for any future disaster scenario or challenge. For departments of transportation and toll operators, this means operating traffic networks and tollways safely and efficiently and supporting essential services and workers—no matter the traffic volume.

Cloud services can help state and local governments, including departments of transportation, better serve their customers. The cloud can be used to migrate and modernize legacy technology, maintain continuity and coordination of critical time-sensitive communications between regional operations centers, enable remote work, and facilitate cross-jurisdictional data sharing for planning and resource deployment.

For example, in Virginia, Elizabeth River Crossings (ERC) operates and maintains the two tunnels connecting the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth, the MLK Expressway, and approximately 51 miles of highway, providing multiple travel options for commuters in the area. On average, 150,000 vehicles travel through these facilities every day. ERC is operated under a 58-year public-private partnership with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).

ERC needed to improve the quality of services to its expanding customer base. They were experiencing reliability and performance issues with their legacy commercial back office and customer relationship management (CRM) business applications. These were operated from primary and backup data centers only a mile apart. Management recognized a need for both facility and system resiliency for uninterrupted quality service.

Their journey began with the assistance of AWS Partner Network (APN) Partner Cognizant, who migrated the on-premises back office, external website, and all databases to Amazon Web Services (AWS). System uptime and performance improved by converting ERC’s Oracle database to Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS). ERC’s redesigned external website using serverless architecture drove development costs and complexity down while providing ERC customers with improved functionality. Customers’ interactions are now streamlined—they can now pay their bills, get traffic advisories, register for an E-ZPass® account, and file a dispute—all online.

ERC’s next steps were to improve their customer service delivery. They again turned to Cognizant to modernize the entire back office system using native AWS Cloud services. The new back office is being built on an open source, serverless architecture using AWS Lambda. This fully leverages the benefits of the AWS pay-as-you-go model, no longer requiring cumbersome and expensive software licensing and providing the flexibility to add incremental features that improve how ERC serves its customers—from transaction processing to customer relationship management.

ERC is accelerating the delivery of the call center modernization, implementing Amazon Connect as a part of its next-generation back office.

“Our decision to migrate and modernize on AWS has improved our customer service and reduced cost of operations, satisfying toll road users and our investors,” said Doug Wilson, CEO, ERC. “It has also provided a path to innovate how toll systems operate by using AWS services.”

Learn more about the cloud for transportation.

Read more stories by this author.