Iowa central transportation hub prioritzes work zone safety

A novel approach to work zone data sharing improves construction corridor safety in America’s Heartland

When you hear or see the word Iowa, what comes to mind? For many, corn is the first thing we think of. That’s not a surprise; Iowa is the state leader in corn production for the USA. Would you be shocked to learn that Iowa is also a central transportation hub that leads in highway work zone safety and innovation?

In honor of National Work Zone Awareness Week, we examine how Iowa DOT leverages new data exchange standards to impact work zone safety. There’s more than just corn growing in Iowa.

Iowa DOT recognizes work zone safety importance

The transportation hub sees over 500 work zones every summer

Being a global center for agriculture production requires a robust transportation system to support the efficient movement of products to the worldwide marketplace. 

All of that steadily-growing commerce and traffic translates to extra road wear and more frequent construction. To that end, Iowa sees up to 500 work zones every summer – making them among the nation’s highest.

With countless miles of construction every summer, Iowa took the initiative to keep workers and travelers safe in its work zones: 

  • Iowa developed a Strategic Highway Safety Plan to identify areas of need and potential solutions.
  • Adopted new data exchange standards improving communication to 3rd parties about work zones.
  • Partnered with key agencies and industry leaders to seek solutions through technology.

National Work Zone Awareness Week 2023

We all play a role in work zone safety. Learn about the history of NWZAW and how you can participate.

Learn more

Sharing is caring for safety with Work Zone Data Exchange

Putting data at the core

While Iowa DOT developed a plan to improve safety, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) established the Work Zone Data Exchange (WZDx) to collect and share work zone data for third party use and issued grants to fund 13 projects. As a grant recipient, Iowa DOT collaborated with Q-Free and Iowa State to drive their plan to success.

Key solution: Open data exchange

The universal format of the WZDx feed eliminates third-party vendors and proprietary technology, leading to an openly adoptable standard to transfer data. Work zones, traffic controllers, autonomous vehicles, smart signals, cameras, agencies like Departments of Transportation, and navigation software could access and share data like never before.

Q-Free adopted the WZDx standards early and began developing tools and software to take advantage of being an industry front-runner. Stringent adherence to standards led to Q-Free being one of the first to have WZDx feeds published on the public exchange, and the development of Smart Arrow Event Verification aided in being the selected project for Iowa DOT’s work zones.

Work zone solutions that work

Explore some of the solutions that helped Iowa DOT improve work zone safety.


Q-Free LaneAware automates and communicates work zone data to prevent scheduling conflicts to maximize travel efficiency and minimize the impact on travelers.

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Smart Arrows

Smart Arrows increase safety and reduce congestion by opening, closing, or shifting lanes automatically based on traffic sensors or manually from traffic controller operations.

Central Software

Bring your road management together with a central system, like Q-Free Kinetic Mobility, to make it easy to coordinate and verify work zone activity with things like automatic event verification of smart arrow boards.

Request a demo