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Minnesota's ITS Architecture
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Minnesota Architecture Database



NOTE: The database is 2.76 Mb in size. You may download the database if you have Microsoft Access Software installed on your computer. If you want to use the database, you need "Turbo Architecture Software." First download the file, then open it through "Turbo Architecture Software." 


Minnesota's ITS Architecture

Minnesota developed the initial ITS architecture for the State of Minnesota called Polaris. An update to this architecture was completed in 2001. A description of these projects is included below.


Minnesota Statewide ITS Architecture


Project Description

The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991, initiated Federal funding for Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) program. A key part of the program was the development of the “National ITS Architecture.” The National ITS Architecture provides a common structure for the design of ITS infrastructures. The architecture defines the functions that could be performed to satisfy user requirements and how the various elements of the system might connect to share information. It also defines the framework around which multiple design approaches can be developed. Each approach tailored specifically to meet the user needs, while maintaining the benefits of a common approach.


In 1995, as a result of ISTEA, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) developed a statewide ITS architecture known as Polaris. In a nutshell, Polaris combines applicable existing systems with developing technologies from both the public and private sectors statewide to create an interactive system with well-defined interfaces between services, functions, and components.


Subsequently, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), enacted in 1998, require Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) projects funded through the highway trust fund to conform to the National ITS Architecture and applicable standards. Though, Minnesota Guidestar Polaris, was thoroughly thought out, it pre-dated the National ITS Architecture and since the project was completed, various systems have been either developed or are in the process of being developed around Minnesota. The premise of this project was to update the current Polaris document to include the existing systems and planned systems utilizing procedures listed in the National ITS Architecture. In addition, this project addressed the interface issues not currently covered in the National ITS Architecture and established a mechanism to enable transportation practitioners in Minnesota, and implement ITS projects more effectively.



  • Implement ITS projects more effectively



  • MnDOT
  • Iteris







An ITS architecture is a framework that defines how multiple ITS Components interrelate and contribute to the overall ITS objectives and requirements.


Project Description
Polaris defined an integrated ITS architecture for Minnesota as a framework that defines how multiple ITS Components interrelate and contribute to the overall ITS objectives and requirements. 


The project began by conducting ten focus groups throughout the state to determine the wants and needs of Minnesota travelers. Participants identified 20 major needs regarding their use for the transportation system, including: Desiring a choice of travel modes, timely weather and road condition information, a safe travel environment, efficient roadside emergency response, and fair and aggressive enforcement of moving violations.


This study of travelers' wants and needs was followed by a survey of Minnesota transportation agencies' wants and needs regarding the operation of the transportation system. That list included such needs as: Desiring effective interagency cooperation, avoidance of duplication of agency roles and efforts, a network integrated across jurisdictions, involvement of the public, and a flexible, cost-effective system.


These studies were evaluated and presented in two documents. An analysis of the data resulted in constructing a Wants and Needs Matrix that provided recommendations for designing the ITS statewide architecture. Once these general recommendations became apparent, reference books were compiled on the existing ITS systems being used within such agencies as the Minnesota State Patrol, Mn/DOT's Traffic Management Center (TMC) in Minneapolis, the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Mn/DOT's Metro Division, Minnesota Guidestar operational tests, the Metropolitan Council Transit Organization (MCTO), and Metro Mobility (an agency offering Para-transit services).


The completed Minnesota Statewide ITS architecture (Polaris) combines applicable existing systems with developing technologies from both the public and private sectors to create an interactive system with well defined interfaces between services, functions, and components.



  • Optimization of the location of system functions
  • Illustration of how associated systems can be integrated to share information and resources
  • Provides opportunities to standardize communications and physical components, enabling interoperability, and allowing the system to easily incorporate new capabilities and technologies
  • Deliver a system that meets end-user and institutional needs
  • Deploy projects efficiently by reducing duplication of effort among agencies
  • Provide compatibility with transportation equipment and hardware that is used nationwide


Project Team

  • MnDOT
  • Lockheed Martin Federal Systems