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511PAConnect is a new, trapped-traveler emergency communications tool that allows incident response teams to communicate via automated phone or text message directly with motorists who are trapped in a roadway backup. The tool also gives emergency crews a clearer picture of who is sitting in a trapped vehicle and where they are, so agencies can better plan for the use of resources.

511PAConnect is not a mobile app and requires no initial download or action from motorists.

511PAConnect will only be activated during prolonged, emergency roadway stoppages that are expected to last four or more hours. Upon activation PEMA will send a push message to all phones in the incident area. This message will provide motorists who are impacted instructions for how to participate and receive further information throughout the incident.

This is how it works:

511PAConnect mobile screen 511PAConnect mobile screen 511PAConnect mobile screen
  • PEMA will send a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) message, similar to an Amber Alert, which is geo-targeted specifically to those in the trapped backlog of vehicles.
  • Affected travelers will be instructed to visit 511PAConnect.com to register for closure updates by providing their phone number and other information such as the type of vehicle and number of occupants.
  • Affected travelers select if they wish to receive updates and other safety information by text message or automated phone call.
  • Motorists will also be asked permission for the system to get their cell phone location; this allows the incident response team to get a better picture of the backlog, who is trapped and where they are located.
  • The system does not request personal information. Phone numbers will be erased once the incident is closed.
  • Motorists approaching but not yet trapped in the backup may receive a WEA message before they reach the impacted area.

This new stranded-traveler communications tool has a number of distinct benefits to provide better situational awareness for agencies, including:

  • A clearer picture of trapped backup length and the number and location of impacted travelers.
  • Better information about the types of impacted vehicles and number of passengers.
511PAConnect screen
511PAConnect mobile screen

It also offers distinct benefits to travelers, including:

  • Official updates and the latest relevant information delivered in the method most convenient for the traveler (automated phone call, text message, web page).
  • No need to comb through social media postings to find status of the event.
  • Communications that reassure travelers throughout the event that the agency is aware of their presence.


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Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE):
2017 Transportation Achievement Award for Operations

IBTTA logo

International Bridge, Turnpike, and Tunnel Association (IBTTA):
2017 Toll Excellence Award for Technology

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Intelligent Transportation Society of New Jersey (ITS NJ):
2017 Outstanding ITS Project Award

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The Mid-Atlantic Section of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (MASITE):
2017 Project of the Year

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Intelligent Transportation Society of Pennsylvania (ITS PA):
2017 Project of the Year