Traffic congestion is rising in cities around the world. Contributing factors include expanding urban populations, aging infrastructure, inefficient and uncoordinated traffic signal timing and a lack of real-time data.
The impacts are significant. Traffic data and analytics company INRIX estimates that traffic congestion cost U.S. commuters $305 billion in 2017 due to wasted fuel, lost time and the increased cost of transporting goods through congested areas. Given the physical and financial limitations around building additional roads, cities must use new strategies and technologies to improve traffic conditions.
The quest to solve traffic congestion
Advanced traffic management technologies such as adaptive traffic control and traffic analytics can improve safety and significantly decrease traffic congestion levels and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
For example, Pittsburgh deployed Rapid Flow Technology’s Surtrac system at 50 intersections across the city. The decentralized system uses a combination of video detection and radar to detect vehicle traffic and adjust signals in real-time using artificial intelligence-driven software. Results from the implementation have been substantial: travel times have been reduced by 26 percent, wait times at intersections are down 41 percent and vehicle emissions have been reduced by 21 percent.
Advanced traffic management systems are also enabling the development of smart intersections, which are emerging as one of the most important data-driven backbones needed to solve core city challenges.
Similar to the platform capabilities offered by smart street lighting, layers of additional services can be added to advanced traffic management systems, such as public transport prioritization and communications with connected vehicles.
For example, in early 2018, the city of Dallas partnered with Ericsson to upgrade the city’s traffic management system. In addition to the ability to adjust traffic signals across hundreds of intersections in real-time, the system will be connected to local transit systems. This connection is anticipated to enable a bus rapid transit route to be prioritized through targeted greenlight timing.
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