Unit Costs for DSRC-based Data Collection Equipment costs can range from $4,150 -$9,200

Researchers identify costs for connected vehicle field infrastructure deployment and related costs in the United States

Nationwide; United States

Summary Information

The USDOT in partnership with Transport Canada, AASHTO and in cooperation with other nationwide stakeholders, conducted analyses leading to a preliminary general concept of a national Connected Vehicle (CV) field infrastructure footprint. The footprint includes a general description for a proposed national deployment of vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology including, applications, communications and deployment locations. The purpose of the National CV Field Infrastructure Footprint Analysis is to provide a vision for a fully deployed infrastructure footprint, to identify the activities and project timelines needed to achieve that footprint, and to estimate costs associated with the deployment.

The current DSRC-based connected vehicle technologies have a set of related issues that have the potential to limit the amount of data collected and the range of applications that might benefit state and local agencies. The first issue derives directly from the connected vehicle principle of “privacy by design.? Data is anonymized as a result of this design decision, and can be identified as part of a set only over a limited period of time (a vehicle can only be “tracked? for 5 minutes before its identity is changed). Data can also only be acquired from a vehicle when it is within range of a DSRC radio, limiting the geographic reach of the system. Additionally, as of the time of this document’s development, the vehicle manufacturers’ Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership (CAMP) and NHTSA have only committed to the DSRC message sets required for V2V safety programs, limiting functionality needed for many of the applications envisioned by state and local agencies.
One solution being considered by AASHTO, the CTS PFS and others is to outfit their own vehicle fleets with additional data collection and storage capacity and multiple mechanisms by which to download that data into back office data management systems. By equipping their own vehicle fleet, an agency could have access to more data elements than by relying on the BSM or other agreed-upon message sets from the vehicle manufacturing community. These agency-owned fleets will benefit transportation operations by providing an additional set of data that can be used for a variety of purposes, including tracking heavy maintenance vehicles, such as snow plows or rolling road repair crews, or evaluating ride quality and road smoothness across a state or a region. The Michigan Department of Transportation, for example, in their Data Use, Analysis, and Processing (DUAP) program, used an Android application to collect ride roughness data across the state and transmitted that data back over the cell network. The CTS PFS has initiated a pilot program with the New York State DOT to outfit winter maintenance vehicles with DSRC radios and an enhanced message set that is being used to evaluate the use of DSRC on winter maintenance vehicles for monitoring responses to snow events.
The Volpe Center and FHWA’s Office of Operations, Research and Development have existing fleets of research vehicles that are instrumented with data collection equipment sufficient to meet the needs of transportation management/operations centers (TMCs/TOCs), State DOTs, MPOs, among other agencies who may be interested in monitoring fleet operations, as well as having some probe vehicle data to monitor system performance. This equipment includes a DSRC aftermarket safety device (ASD), which is an in-vehicle radio unit that generates the Vehicle Situation Data Message (VSDM), which transmits information to backend servers about the vehicles speed, direction, and location, as well as information from vehicle sensors to include status, environmental and weather information. Additionally, these fleets may be equipped with camera logging systems that monitor the vehicle’s external surroundings to provide insight into local traffic conditions, incident information, and other visual updates to remote operators. Although there are multiple vendors and configurations for this type of equipment, cost information from the video data collection system implemented on the Volpe and FHWA fleets is used for this estimate and assumed to be representative of systems from alternative vendors. Finally, an additional cost element is included to cover the cable management and accessories that are used for installation.
The costs associated with this fleet include the cost of hardware, installation, and monthly service charges. Table 1 outlines these cost elements, based on previous implementations for government research fleets for the following projects:
  • Volpe, Field Operational Experiment and Data Analysis of Driver Adaptation to Crash Warning and Avoidance Products, 2013.
  • FHWA-HRDO, Development of a Platform Technology for Automated Vehicle Research, 2013.
Table 1 -Unit Costs for DSRC-based Data Collection Equipment (Source: USDOT/AASHTO 2014)
Equipment Component
Unit Cost
DSRC After-market Safety Device
Cabling Management/Installation Kits
Installation Labor
Video Data Collection System (optional)
Total Cost Per Vehicle (with video)

The in-vehicle costs for fleet-based systems depend on the application(s) being deployed. The costs shown in Table 1 are based on the Volpe and FHWA-HRDO deployments which required a significant investment in the in-vehicle device, both in terms of capital cost and installation. For the initial Michigan DOT demonstration of a ride quality application, data collection ran on an Android-based smart phone. Outside of the cost of developing the application to collect the data from the sensors in the phone, the only deployment costs were the phone, a suction cup mount for the phone and a power cable with a cigarette lighter adapter, all of which could be installed by the driver in less than five minutes.
Fleet systems will likely use a combination of connectivity types, including DSRC at DSRC hotspots, Wi-Fi for batch downloads at Wi-Fi hotspots, and cellular for service when more continuous connectivity is desired. The cost for cellular service varies by carrier and by contract type. Sprint, for example, offers unlimited data plans, while AT&T and Verizon offer plans based on specific data use, typically in 2 GB increments (although Sprint also provides a 3/6/12 GB data-only plan). Additionally, each of the carriers has different rates based on who holds the contract. The prices on each carrier’s web site are representative of the plans paid by the typical consumer. Each carrier also negotiates separate rates for corporations and government entities. The cost for the device varies based on the plan selected and the length of the contract and can range from free to over $600 for a new, current-generation smart phone. Table 2 shows some of the pricing variability in the cellular marketplace.
Table 2 -Example Cellular Data Plan Rates (Source: USDOT/AASHTO 2014)
Source & Service
Monthly Rate
Sprint government quote (January 2014), unlimited data and free modem
Sprint consumer price,, 12GB data, 3G/4G modem
Sprint consumer price,, unlimited data and voice, smart phone
AT&T consumer price,, 10GB data and data modem
AT&T consumer price,, 10GB data, unlimited voice, smart phone
Verizon consumer price,, 10GB data, unlimited voice, smart phone

Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile have provided data modems free of charge with the $35 monthly service fee for unlimited data use for government entities in the past. For 12 months of service, this totals $420 per year for each vehicle.
This report, dated June 2014, includes many more details of connected vehicle system costs. These findings along with the costs provide a valuable resource to those considering the implementation of connected vehicle infrastructure.

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National Connected Vehicle Field Infrastructure Footprint Analysis Final Report

Author: Wright, James (AASHTO),

Published By: U.S. DOT Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) ITS Joint Program Office (JPO)

Source Date: 06/27/2014

Other Reference Number: Report No. FHWA-JPO-14-125


System Cost

DSRC-based data collection equipment costs include DSRC after-market safety device $1000, cabling management/installation kits $150, installation labor $3000, video data collection system (optional) $5050


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Related Unit Cost Subsystems

Roadside Telecommunications (RS-TC)


DSRC, cellular, communication, data, voice, video, installation, cable, safety, device, V2I, connected vehicle, aftermarket, collection

Cost ID: 2014-00330