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Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology
ITS Joint Program Office

Application Areas

Dynamic Message Signs


This center-to-field application area covers the interface between a traffic management center or maintenance and construction management center, and a specific type of roadway equipment that provides information to motorists -- the dynamic message sign (DMS). These signs may be permanently installed or portable devices and use various technologies such as flip panels, multiple lights, or light-emitting diodes capable of displaying a limited number of messages or a fully customized message using any combination of characters. A DMS can furnish motorists with real-time information including alerts and advisories, early warning messages, alternate route information, travel times, and work zone information.
This graphic shows the scope of the Center to Field Dynamic Message Signs application area.  This scope is described in the preceding text.
National ITS Architecture Interface
This application area includes the interfaces between the center subsystems that control dynamic message signs and the dynamic message signs (DMS) in the Roadway Subsystem (RS). Both the Traffic Management Subsystem (TMS) and Maintenance and Construction Management Subsystem (MCMS) control DMS by sending information to the DMS for initialization, configuration, and control. This exchange of information can include the actual message to be displayed on the DMS as well as delivery attributes such as fonts and character tables, local message store maintenance requests, control mode commands, and queries on equipment status and condition. The DMS responds with the current operating status information (including fault information) when requested.

Applicable Standards

In general, the following standards are applicable to Dynamic Message Signs deployments. To determine which specific standards are applicable for a deployment you will need to determine which architecture flows will be needed for the Dynamic Message Signs piece of your deployment. Contact your local FHWA ITS Division Specialist or an ITS Standards Program Field Support Team contact

Standard Development Status
ATC 5201 (ITE ATC Controller) Advanced Transportation Controller (ATC) ; Published
ATC 5301 Advanced Transportation Controller (ATC) Cabinet Version 02; Published
ITE ATC API Application Programming Interface (API) Standard for the Advanced Transportation Controller (ATC); Published
NTCIP 1102 Octet Encoding Rules (OER) Base Protocol; Published
NTCIP 1103 Transportation Management Protocols (TMP); Published
NTCIP 1201 Global Object Definitions; Published
NTCIP 1203 Object Definitions for Dynamic Message Signs (DMS); Published
NTCIP 2101 Point to Multi-Point Protocol Using RS-232 Subnetwork Profile; Published
NTCIP 2102 Point to Multi-Point Protocol Using FSK Modem Subnetwork Profile; Published
NTCIP 2103 Point-to-Point Protocol Over RS-232 Subnetwork Profile; Published
NTCIP 2104 Ethernet Subnetwork Profile; Published
NTCIP 2201 Transportation Transport Profile; Published
NTCIP 2202 Internet (TCP/IP and UDP/IP) Transport Profile; Published
NTCIP 2301 Simple Transportation Management Framework (STMF) Application Profile; Published
NTCIP 2302 Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP) Application Profile; Published
NTCIP 2303 File Transfer Protocol (FTP) Application Profile; Published
NTCIP 8003 Profile Framework; Published
NTCIP 9001 NTCIP Guide; Published
SAE J2266 Location Referencing Message Specification (LRMS); Published
Deployment Resources
Deployment resources can be found in the deployment resources section.
  • Featured Deployer Profiles
  • Specification Guide for Procurement of NTCIP-compliant DMS
  • ITS Standards Field Test Reports
  • NTCIP Case study reports (1999-2004)
  • DMS (Dynamic Message Signs) Standards Advisory