SCOOT depends on good traffic data for successful operation and the detectors are an essential part of the system. Inductive loops are most common, though other types of detector can be used. For best results, detectors are required on each link. Installing inductive loops, and maintaining them subsequently, is a significant element in the cost of SCOOT, although less than would be required if all the junctions were operated by isolated VA. Overhead detectors have been used successfully in some situations.
A SCOOT network is divided into "regions", each containing a number of "nodes" (signalled junctions and pedestrian crossings) that all run at the same cycle time to allow co-ordination. Nodes may be "double cycled" (i.e. operate at half of the regional cycle time) at pedestrian crossings or undersaturated junctions. Region boundaries are located across links where co-ordination is least critical, e.g. long links. Data on the regions, nodes, stages, links and detectors will need to be stored in the SCOOT database.
When all the equipment has been installed and the network data input into the database, the system will need to be validated. Validation of SCOOT is the process of calibrating the SCOOT traffic model so that it reflects as accurately as possible the actual events on the street network. This is critical, to ensure effective performance of the system. Those parts of the system that have been validated can be operated under SCOOT control whilst further nodes are being validated. Once the system has been validated, the traffic management parameters can be set to manage traffic in line with the authority's strategy.
Highway authorities wishing to install a SCOOT system or to upgrade an existing one may wish to go straight to one or both of the two traffic system companies licensed to supply SCOOT. However, prospective users with limited experience of UTC systems may find it useful to seek advice from a consultant with experience in the field.