Plug-and-Play Initiative


Sensors and other devices used on DOT vehicles are often provided by different vendors, each with their own proprietary communication protocols and data formats. It is costly and time-intensive to integrate the different systems into one data stream. The adoption of a standard protocol and specification would simplify the process of adding new components and reduce the overall costs of developing and maintaining a mobile data platform.


The goal is to engage the vendor community to develop a protocol that would support a “plug and play” approach to integrating electronic devices and sensors on plow trucks.


Working with interested stakeholders, Clear Roads engaged in a collaborative effort to develop a communications protocol that will allow plug-and-play connectivity among vendors who follow the protocol. Establishment of this protocol will mutually benefit Clear Roads member states and their vendors by standardizing how critical operational data is shared on modern snow and ice vehicles, namely between compatible Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) devices and anti-icing/deicing Joystick and Spreader Controller systems.

To learn more, please see the Webinar below.

Expected Results

A standard protocol that each state can specify in procurement to facilitate a plug-and-play approach to sharing operational data from electronic devices on modern winter maintenance vehicles.

Public Comments on the Draft Protocol

In February 2014, Clear Roads invited public input on the draft specification for a standard communications protocol. Clear Roads revised the protocol and again invited all interested stakeholders in the winter maintenance community and related vendor organizations to provide comments and feedback in September 2014. The protocol has been updated based on the comments received. The comments received and Clear Roads’ formal responses are available here.

The draft Clear Roads Universal In-Cab Performance Specifications and Communications Protocol is available here.


  • A collaborative group of Clear Roads members and spreader and AVL vendors developed a draft protocol (2011-2014).
  • The draft protocol was posted for public comment in February 2014 and again in September 2014.
  • In early 2017, Clear Roads completed the Plug and Play Initiative, Phase 2, which identifies a standard protocol for the transmission of data from a vehicle to a point location.
  • In late 2017, Clear Roads kicked off the project Developing Test Bed Software to Qualify Plug and Play Technology, which allows testing of devices to ensure compliance with the developed protocol.
  • The Clear Roads Test Portal went live in early 2019. It is available for vendors to validate their equipment to ensure it is compliant with the protocol.