4 Cities That Are Integrating Smart Technology To Improve Pedestrian Safety

us cities improving traffic and pedestrian safety with technology

Securing Pedestrian Safety

As the American population continues to grow, cities throughout the U.S. see a population influx in many regions. As more people congregate in urban environments, economic forces in these areas often see a substantial increase in many aspects, and there are many benefits from this ongoing population trend.

As cities grow, so do the benefits that many sectors of a city experience. Everything from entertainment, hospitality, and economic drivers like jobs benefit from larger urban cities.

However, as cities continue to grow and attract more residents, the number of pedestrians hurt or killed in these densely populated areas increases too. As cities continue to grow, the number of people living, working, and spending time in downtown locations increases too.

This makes traffic accidents involving pedestrians one of the leading forms of death in the United States today.

Technology: The Problem Or The Solution?

There is no debate whether mobile technology is increasing the rates of accidents involving pedestrians. From playing Candy Crush while walking to browsing through Facebook or even texting, interaction with our smartphones is becoming one of the leading causes of traffic accidents.

As this technology continues to be a driving force for accidents, mobile technology is also becoming integrated into existing traffic equipment to help make city streets safer for pedestrians and drivers alike.

There are plenty of technological advances that you can find in the city streets. Everything from sensors that communicate with each other, to smart traffic lights, and even advanced public transportation is being used to help make public roads safer in urban environments.

Along with making our streets safer for pedestrians and drivers, advanced technology is also making an impact on improving air quality and efficiency for commuters. Let’s take a look at how some cities across the globe are utilizing technology to make their streets safer today!

1. New York City

New York City is known for the grid-lock traffic, frequent pedestrian activities, and one of the most popular non-stop entertainment spots in the world. However, as New York and surrounding cities continue to grow, so does the incidents of traffic accidents involving pedestrians.

To help improve the safety of their streets, Manhattan is implementing a million dollar program called Midtown In Motion. This initiative will integrate cameras, field sensors, and FRID readers at intersections to communicate real-time data about a given area to residents and a central command center.

While this initiative is not new, it is part of a growing effort to make Manhattan safer for all visitors. One of the most innovative pieces of Midtown In Motion is that real-time data won’t only be available to traffic engineers, but this data will also be accessible to drivers.

This means that drivers will be able to choose the best routes based on actual street-level data as they navigate NYC.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority sponsored KLD associates to come up with software that can be used in the metro area. As their efforts expanded, KLD ended up creating a software system that modifies signal patterns according to the change in traffic volumes, and this improves the traffic flow.

2. Curitiba, Brazil

One of the fastest growing cities in the road sits outside of the United States, but city planners here in the U.S. are taking note of some initiatives being used in Curitiba, Brazil. When it comes to urban planning, there is a widespread belief that any city with over one million residents should consider installing a subway to avoid traffic congestion.

However, as Curitiba hit the million person mark in the 1970’s, they weren’t ready for a subway because of the $300 million price tag that came along with it. As an alternative, Curitiba officials looked to an innovative bus system called the Rapid Bus Transit system to help make a smarter rapid transit system.

Unlike many other bus systems, the Rapid Bus Transit has exclusive traffic lanes throughout the city to help reduce the number of traffic jams caused by bus stops. Along with improved traffic lanes, the Rapid Bus Transit also communicates with smart traffic lights to help the buses easily transport more people with less delay throughout the day.

Today, the Rapid Bus Transit systems services over 2 million people each year, and due to the success of the system city officials are looking to overhaul the aging fleet with over 500 new 92-foot buses to run biofuels. Brazilian officials are excited for the economic and environmental improvements that these buses will bring, as fewer people will be driving

3. Sydney, Australia

The geography of Australia is unique, as it has to push large pockets of residents together to build large cities in specific areas of Australia. As more people have congregated in these cities, Australia has taken innovative efforts to improve pedestrian safety throughout the urban environments.

One of these initiatives is the Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System (SCATS) and was first produced by computer engineers in the 1970’s. This innovative approach to traffic safety uses sensors and cameras on sidewalks to monitor traffic volume in a specific location at specific times.

As these systems collect information about intersections throughout the city, a comprehensive real-time map of city traffic is created. This allows a central control system to find the right timing of lights to help coordinate pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

SCATS has been improved to integrate other advanced technologies, but the system itself has proven itself as a useful tool to prevent pedestrian deaths. This method is being used around the world in large cities, including Shanghai, Hong Kong, Sydney, Mexico, Kuala Lumpur, Tehran, and Dublin.

The most recent news about this is that PTIPS, a new SCATS feature, is being used in Sydney as a way to prioritize the late buses and make sure that everything is flowing smoothly.

Based on the reports gathered, the use of SCATS has some benefits, and some of which are listed below:

  1. The total stops decreased by 21%
  2. The travel time reduced by 37%
  3. There has been a 6% decrease in total carbon dioxide emissions
  4. There has been a 5% decrease in total nitric oxide emissions
  5. There has been a 10% drop-off in PM10 emissions

That’s not all, SCATS continue to evolve, and the experts behind this system are looking for ways on how it would be able to meet the growing need in traffic administration while being able to benefit from the recent advancements in traffic technology to enjoy maximum efficiency.There are plenty of notable developments include the following:

  • Windows supported- Integration to in-car GPS that allows vehicles to be dispatched around accidents or traffic
  • Better traffic control algorithms that promote overall efficiency and reduces delays
  • Integrated functionality made for highway on-ramps to guide traffic even on the highway.

4. Farmington Hills, Michigan

Michigan is one of the leading states implementing advanced technology to improve traffic safety throughout cities. One city, in particular, Farmington Hills, stands out as the leader in the advancement of pedestrian and traffic safety systems.

Utilizing a network of modifiable and “smart” LED lights, city planners are making a connected system that talks to each other and optimize traffic flow. This interface is known as Intellistreets and continues to prove that improved traffic flow can drive economic factors of a city while also increasing safety and efficiencies across the city.

The street lighting operates in a coordinated effect where each pole comes with its very own microprocessor that could work on its own, but could also line around a non-functioning unit. This system of smart LED lights allows authorities to project any message to help guide first responders and keep crowds safe around disaster areas.

These poles also contain sensors and cameras capable of monitoring traffic flow that could tell which lights should brighten or dim down.The street names are visible in LED lights, as well as banners that could be modified to preview anything– this could range from traffic warnings, Amber Alert, directions, or even advertisements. Best of all, you can configure this in real time, and have it ready right away, making it ideal for events.

Despite that the Intellistreets work well with traffic, its primary purpose is energy saving. It was created with pulse width transmission to ensure its energy efficiency when being used. For instance, dimming the lights of the Intellistreets would allow you to save 25% of energy and 25% less heat. Although you wouldn’t experience its benefits right away, after a time, it’s a wonderful investment as compared to a typical traffic light.

Using Technology For A Safer Tomorrow

As cities continue to grow, city planners must think of new and innovative ways to improve the safety and efficiency of commuting for pedestrians and drivers. Leveraging emerging technology and integrating these technologies into existing traffic equipment can keep drivers and pedestrians safe. The future of city living and commuting looks bright as authorities continue to implement advanced technology on our city streets!

Author: Chris Giarratana

Chris is a Digital Media Strategy Consultant in Orlando, FL who specializes in developing marketing strategies for small businesses, researching emerging technologies, and enjoys studying transportation issues.

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