After Action Review

Use this template package along with RITIS tool results and your agency’s content to create an after-action review report, including front and back covers, an event high-level summary page and an impact evaluation page that graphically depicts mainline and regional impacts, delay costs, vehicle hours of delay, key takeaways, and more. There are also several use case examples with varying levels of event complexities and some more technically-oriented report examples.

Overview

  1. Click to download the PowerPoint template to create an after action review of a major incident.
  2. Download Agency Use Case examples below to see how other agencies have used these templates or have created similar reports using content from RITIS:
  3. Scroll down to learn how to create this report or click on the 'How To Create Report' in the navigational menu.

Tools Used In This Report (click on the links for a brief video tutorial on using a tool)

Design Recommendations To Keep In Mind

We've strived to make the Guides simple and easy to understand, but if you have any questions or need help, please contact us at support@ritis.org. To start off, we think these abbreviated Lessons Learned from FHWA's Performance Reporting Prototype Technical Report are very instructive and important to keep in mind:

  • Tailor report content and format to engage and inform your audience

    • Keep reports for the general public engaging and simple
    • Reserve greater complexity for professional transportation audience
    • Consider how the audience experiences transportation - the general public typically doesn't care about agency business process silos
  • Relevant, easy-to-understand graphics are likely to be shared

    • ‟Single issue, single page” graphics-heavy infographics are a valuable tool to draw in a larger audience
  • Snapshots are not enough

    • Make sure to include trends and contextual information
    • Link to actions being taken by the organization
  • Don't empasize appearance over effectiveness

    • Information should be conveyed clearly and concisely
    • Simplicity over embellishment is usually best
  • Tell a story so the data comes alive

    The story must be delivered at the right technical level for the audience and targeted on an area of interest

How to Create the Report

Click on each numbered box below to learn how to create the content in each section and how we used RITIS to generate charts and produce performance data.

1

How to make the cover pages

  1. Select cover page

    cover page
    1. For this After-action Review report build, we’ll be using an overturned tanker truck incident that occurred on March 28, 2019, on the American Legion Bridge in Montgomery County, MD / Fairfax County, VA (Interagency coordination and info-sharing was facilitated through MATOC, a joint operations program between DDOT, MDOT, VDOT, & WMATA).
    2. On the RITIS Templates page, choose the After-action Review Report template, then click on the Download Template button.
    3. This will download four template pages:
      • Front and back covers
      • Incident Summary
      • Incident Impacts
    4. Open the template in Microsoft PowerPoint – you’ll see the front cover.
    5. Gather your agency’s logo and some applicable background images to choose from.
      Lightbulb icon indicating that you can click to learn a little more

      Tip

      Using high-resolution images will give your report a more professional look. If you image is bright, and you want it darker either use the Corrections function under Picture Format or overlay a colored box and make it semi-transparent.
      We also recommend using a transparent version (png) of your agency’s logo, if available.

  2. Insert the logo and image

    cover page with logo and image
    1. Copy and paste your image and agency logo into the cover page template.
    2. Right-click on the image and select “Send to Back” from the drop-down menu so the image lays behind the cover graphics and text.
    3. If there’s not enough contrast with the background image, double-click your agency’s logo and select Color from the Adjust ribbon to select a more suitable color.
      Lightbulb icon indicating that you can click to learn a little more

      Tip

      Use Picture Format on the menu to lighten or darken a photo to give better contrast to logos and text. Click on the background image, then click Picture Format on the menu, and then click on the Corrections drop-down to see pre-set selections or use your own.

  3. Apply some finishing touches

    final cover page Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    1. Edit Incident, Event / Roadway, Location and Date placeholders.
    2. You can change the colors of the bottom graphic by double-clicking it and selecting “Color” from the “Picture Format” ribbon.
  4. Create a back cover

    back cover page Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    color circle
    1. For the back cover, use the back cover template to add your agency’s logo, a pertinent photo and contact info.
    2. Your report covers are now complete!
      • For the cover pages, and all other report pages, consider using your agency’s color palette, or use this simple color wheel to help decide on complementary color combinations. For our final report covers, we chose to color the bottom curved graphic black.
2

How to make the Incident Summary page

  1. Open the Incident Summary page template

    template Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    1. Open the Incident Summary page template
    2. Gather some images of the incident, related icons (download Design Resources for sample icons) and location map. You will also be using the Event Query Tool to gather operators' logs, responder’s timetable and an incident timeline graphic (see steps c-d). Next, choose one of the two timeline graphics available in the Design Resources packet ( or use your own timeline or other graphic, table or other information).
      • If your agency does not provide the data to run EQT, or if the data there is lacking, you will have to gather operator’s logs and responder’s timetables from your TMC/ATMS.
  2. Add an agency logo, heading, location map, images, icons, and some summary text

    bottleneck ranking tool
    bottleneck ranking tool Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    bottleneck ranking tool Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    1. Fill in the top half of the Summary page by adding your Agency’s logo, a heading (what happened, where and when it happened) and a simple location map.
    2. For the Location Map, we used a screenshot from a RITIS Map, added some large route shields and a crash icon to show its approximate location.
    3. We then added four icons across the top of the image placeholders from the AAR Icons/Graphics page – an overturned tanker leaking fuel, a clock (with the time set to the approximate time when the incident occurred), a roadway section (with the NB direction colored red to show impact) and an ambulance.
    4. We then added brief narrative to summarize what, where and when things happened.
    5. Next, we added images obtained from the Agency, or ones gathered from images from the Media content in RITIS Incident Timeline (see below), then captioned them. We also added a black box behind the images to give them more definition.
      Lightbulb icon indicating that you can click to learn a little more

      Tip

      To get the spotlight effect on the image on the left – showing the overturned tanker – we copied and pasted the image overtop itself, aligned it, then cropped it using Crop to Shape in PowerPoint, and chose an oval shape and adjusted it to a circle shape. Then we lightened the cropped image using Corrections to give a spotlighting effect.

    6. The top half of the Incident Summary is now complete!
  3. Run the Event Query Tool

    summary results 1 Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    summary results 2 Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    1. Open the Event Query Tool and use the query screen to define the parameters of your search:
      • On the RITIS Transportation System Status landing page, click the Data Archive tab – the Event Query Tool will open;
      • Under DATA SOURCES, choose your state, then click on an appropriate data source. For this example, we chose Maryland, and all available data sources;
      • Scroll down to EVENT TYPES and select a category. Here, we chose MDOT CHART (Maryland DOT) Agency-specific Types;
      • Choose an event type that fits your situation – we chose Incident;
      • Next, select LOCATION. We chose I-495 in Maryland;
      • And finally, select your TIME PERIOD. We know the date of this incident to be 3/28/2019.
    2. Once you’re satisfied with your query inputs, click the SUBMIT QUERY button.
  4. Your results will look something like this

    finished results Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    finished results Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    finished results Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    finished results Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    1. The EQT results page will list all the incidents defined by your parameters.
    2. Review the list to find your incident. Here you’ll find details about the incident – start time, closed time, location, duration, number of responders, etc.
    3. You’ll also see three blue icons to the left of the list – click on these to access:
      • Operator Logs – these logs contain a timestamp, operator username and message related to the response,
      • Responder’s Timetable – this table contains information on responders, when they were notified, in-transit time, when they arrived at and departed the scene and more,
      • RITIS Incident Timeline – open the timeline to see a vertically integrated and fully interactive graphic of every aspect of the detection, response and clearance of the incident and return to normal traffic flow.

        In the upper right-hand corner is a button labeled Media. Click this to find any available images related to the incident.

      • Depending on how much event data your agency provides the CATT Lab and the type of event, you may see all three datasets, or none at all. If you can’t use EQT, at a minimum, you will need to obtain your agency’s operator’s logs to complete this AAR report.
  5. Create an Incident Timeline graphic

    finished results Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    finished results Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    1. Open one of the Incident Timeline graphics in the Design Resources packet. We chose the basic Incident Timeline to show event management over time.
    2. Next, review the operator’s log and select key actions or events that happened during the management of the incident.
    3. Using the action text boxes and connector lines, add the key actions/events onto the timeline, staggering the layout (top/bottom).
      • Depending on how many actions or events you add to the timeline, you may not be able to correspond them directly to the time scale in the arrow graphic – that’s OK! Simply remove the time scale and add the boxes in staggered fashion, then note the time in each box. Arrange the boxes along the line for a best fit. Another option is to use fewer key actions/events so you can scale to time more accurately. You can also add a break line in the timeline if necessary (e.g.; if there’s a long period of time between actions).
    4. Finish building your timeline graphic by adding a heading, total elapsed time for the incident and any legends to better explain the information.
      • If desired, you can add a hyperlink to RITIS’ Incident Timeline. This will allow you to open the full results, that will be comprehensive and interactive, for any deep-dive review and discussion. Please refer to the Design Resources document - Hyperlinking report objects or text to detailed RITIS results - for using a simple 3-step process.
    5. We’ve also added a light grey highlight box behind the timeline and a separator line up top to give it more definition. If desired, you can also color-code certain important actions / events boxes during the incident, to highlight them.
    6. Your Incident Summary page is now complete!
3

How to make the Incident Impact page

  1. Open the Incident Impact page template

    evaluation report template Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    1. In the downloaded templates package, select the Incident Impacts page.
    2. For this page, we will run three RITIS tools:
      • Trend Map
      • Congestion Scan
      • User Delay Costs
    3. We will also be hyperlinking some text so that you can open full Trend Map, Congestion Scan and User Delay Costs results in the tools, for any deep-dive review and discussion.
    4. Additionally, gather your agency’s logo and any information from your Traffic Operations Unit or others to help develop a Takeaways summary.
  2. Run Trend Map

    design recources Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    design recources Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    1. Open the Trend Map tool and use the query screen to define the parameters of your search:
    2. Select roads – choose your state, then in the search bar type the name of your road. For our incident example, we chose a roadway network most likely impacted by the incident, by using the Map feature:
      • We first selected Interstates and State Routes from the Road Classes drop-down list;
      • Next, we selected Draw a circle in the map control box, then centered it in the middle of Washington DC and dragged the mouse until we achieved the desired coverage or likely alternative routes/network impact. These routes are colored purple;
      • Finally, we added a few potentially key roads by using the Draw a polygon function. These routes are colored green.
        Lightbulb icon indicating that you can click to learn a little more

        Tip

        Use the Save as segment set button to save large or complex TMC sets, so you can access those later, share them or run other tools. Be sure to use a naming convention so that your sets are easy to identify.

    3. Select time periods – choose the day(s), month(s) or year you wish to analyze, then choose time periods for the range as well as days of the week. We chose the day before the incident, the day of, and the day after the incident.
    4. Select data sources – choose your agency’s data source.
    5. Select granularity – choose how fine you want to see the changes in metrics over time. We chose 1 hour.
    6. Submit – once you’re satisfied with your query inputs, click the SUBMIT button.
  3. Your results will look something like this

    design recources Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    design recources
    design recources Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    design recources Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    design recources Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    1. Trend Map will display the selected roadways, with a map for each time period. In our example, we selected three days – the incident day, and the shoulder days.
    2. We want to display the maps differently, so they fit better into the report. Click on Display Options in the upper right corner of Trend Map, then select the vertical layout.
    3. Next, we zoomed in on the incident area, and played the animation to about the time of the incident (2 pm) – we felt this showed some interesting results, in terms of the roadway impacts and secondary incidents, and a prevalence of incidents occurring at or very near the ALB on all three days around the same time.
      Lightbulb icon indicating that you can click to learn a little more

      Tip

      To get a better fit of your images into the report template, resize the results before taking a screenshot by clicking in the Restore Down icon in the upper right corner of your browser, then click and hold the edges of the page and resize to your liking.

      • For your particular use case, you can choose any zoom level of your analysis area, from the full network (to show alternate route impact) to a more isolated area around the incident proper and nearby impacted roads. Use whatever you think best tells the story.
    4. We then adjusted the screen size (to better fit the report) and took a screenshot.
    5. Next, we pasted the image into the template, cropping out everything except the maps, then added colorized headers and annotations on the map – such as route shields, roadway names and incident highlights. A caption was then added to summarize important aspects of the incident’s impact and noted the unusual occurrence of multiple incidents on the ALB around the same time for all three days analyzed.
    6. Finally, we added a heading that included a hyperlink to the Trend Map results page using modified embed code (see Design Resources on how to easily do that) so that the impacts for the entire roadway network can be explored in more detail, including animated performance maps.
    7. Your Area Impacts section is now complete!
  4. Run Congestion Scan

    design recources Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    design recources Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    1. Open the Congestion Scan tool and use the query screen to define the parameters of your search:
    2. Select roads – choose your state, then in the search bar type the name of your road. For our incident example, we chose a partial I-495 in Maryland (from the ALB to Cabin John Pkwy) and I-495 in Virginia (from the ALB to I-66). In choosing a partial roadway, you can either use the intersection dropdowns, or click on individual TMCs on the map, then click Remove this segment (your deletions will be tracked in a separate dialog box, from which you can add back in any or all segments you’ve removed). We then saved this segment set for later use, by clicking on the Save as segment set button.
    3. Select time periods – choose the day(s), month(s) or year you wish to analyze, then choose time periods for the range as well as days of the week. We chose the day before the incident, the day of, and the day after the incident.
    4. Select data sources – choose your agency’s data source.
    5. Select granularity – choose how fine you want to see the changes in metrics over time. We chose 1 hour.
    6. Submit – once you’re satisfied with your query inputs, click the SUBMIT button.
  5. Your results will look something like this

    design recources Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    design recources
    design recources Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    design recources Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    1. The Congestion Scan results show heatmap style visualizations for both directions of travel for the segment we identified, as well as traffic events, both agency-reported and Waze events. For our example, we want to only look at the NB (Clockwise) direction of travel (that includes the overturned tanker truck), and only look at agency-reported events.

      Clicking on the Display Options box in the upper right corner, we unchecked the Right graph and Waze events checkboxes.
    2. We then cropped off the top and adjusted the screen size (to better fit the report) and took a screenshot.
      Lightbulb icon indicating that you can click to learn a little more

      Tip

      To get a better fit of your images into the report template, resize the results before taking a screenshot by clicking in the Restore Down icon in the upper right corner of your browser, then click and hold the edges of the page and resize to your liking.

    3. Next, we pasted the screenshot into the template, then added day/date headings, a call-out box around the day of the incident, a speed legend, and a caption summarizing the impacts of the incident compared to the shoulder days, in terms of miles of backup and hours of congested conditions.
    4. Finally, we added a heading that included a hyperlink to the Congestion Scan results page, using the link function in PowerPoint (see Design Resources on how to easily do that) so that the roadway impacts can be explored in more detail.
    5. Your Mainline Impacts section is now complete!
  6. Run the User Delay Cost tool

    design recources Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    design recources
    design recources
    1. Open User Delay Cost and use the query screen to define the parameters of your search:
    2. Select roads – choose your state, then in the search bar type the name of your road. For our example, we used the saved TMC set from our Congestion Scan query – click on the Saved tab, then click on the Display Options button and check Show only my segment sets, then scroll down to find your saved set, and click Add selected segment sets.
    3. Select time period to analyze – choose the day(s), month(s) and year you wish to analyze. We chose the entire month of March 2019.
    4. Select volume data sources – select available data providers and add to a list. If volume data is not available for a given segment for your first selected provider, volume data for that segment will come from the next available provider and so on.
    5. Select speed data source – select a data provider, including NPMRDS options.
    6. Confirm the average cost and percent of volume for passenger and commercial vehicle types – use the default values shown or edit the inputs to your agency-specific values.
    7. Define where delay should be calculated – choose an option for the tool to calculate delay.
    8. Calculate user delay cost against – choose Free-flow speed, posted speed limit or historical average speed.
    9. Provide title – name your query using things like dates, roadway name and limits, condition, etc.
    10. Notifications – check the box if you want to receive an email when the report is ready.
    11. Submit – once you’re satisfied with your query inputs, click the SUBMIT button. You will see a popup that states your request was submitted and to check your My History page for the status. You will also receive an email when the report is ready.
      • If you don’t want to adjust the default values in the UDC query screen, you can generate UDC results faster by going to your My History page, and under your Congestion Scan report, click on Open with…and select User Delay Cost Analysis.
  7. Your results will look something like this

    design recources Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    design recources Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    1. The UDC results page will display a matrix of metrics for each day of your time period by each hour of the day. Hovering over any cell will give you four metrics, broken down into subsets (e.g.; Delay Cost, and Delay Cost per VMT).
    2. The heatmap-style coloring allows you to quickly see any patterns in the results. For our case, UDC is generally higher between 2-7PM, Thursdays and Fridays for the month of March 2019.
    3. For our report, we chose to compare user delay cost and vehicle-hours of delay from the day of the incident (4th Thursday) to the average of the other Thursdays of the month, by taking the corresponding data from the matrix and doing some basic calculations.
    4. Next, we added the incident Thursday numbers in the report template and discussed particulars in an accompanying dialog box.
    5. Finally, we added a heading, and a hyperlink to the Mainline UDC results page, using the link function in PowerPoint (see Design Resources on how to easily do that) so that the UDC matrix can be explored in more detail.
    6. Your Mainline UDC section is now complete!
      • If you want to look at the Regional UDC, simply query on your saved regional TMC set that you developed for Trend Map.
  8. Adding Takeaways to your report

    design recources Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
    1. The last section of the Incident Impacts page is a place where you can summarize important takeaways from incident detection, response, clean-up and reopening of the roadway:
      • unusual issues that occurred (and how they were handled),
      • level of communication & coordination;
      • detour routing determination, impacts and management;
      • weather or area special event impacts, etc.
    2. Then add a highlight box underneath and add one or two critical lessons learned : coordination was key, on-going training is a must, need better equipment, etc.

Your report is now complete!

Cover page with logos and images Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
Overview page with data and map location Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
Evaluation pages with data Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
Back cover page with a photo of cars at sunset Magnifying glass indicating that you can click to zoom the previous image
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