The smart technology industry is booming. You’ve likely noticed a massive influx of advancements in consumer technology, but there have also been major innovations in the area of intelligent transportation systems. This is in large part due to demand from smart cities that aspire to see more efficient traffic management and a reduction in pollution from commuter vehicles.
Intelligent transportation systems are drastically changing the way we commute by reducing traffic congestion and vehicle collisions, both of which significantly improve road safety, while decreasing pollution. Some of these smart technologies are hard to miss – the progression of autonomous vehicles and car-to-car communication have been extensively covered in the news – but some of the coolest innovations are actually quite hidden.
Whether they’re hidden underground, high up on a light post or disguised in traffic lights, these technologies are integral parts of intelligent transportation systems and smart cities. Sensors, cameras and LED lighting might commonly be glanced over, but the impacts they have on your commute can be significant.
Here are 4 new technologies that are leading the way in smart city innovation:
Responsive Traffic Signaling
New York is a leading smart city, so it makes sense that they began trialing intelligent transportation systems all the way back in 2011. The city employed several sensors and cameras to monitor real-time traffic density and adjust traffic signals accordingly to minimize congestion.
Sydney has been exploring intelligent transportation systems by utilizing cameras and inductions loops in the pavement to determine vehicle density, then manipulating traffic signals to improve the flow of commuters. This project saw a 37% reduction in travel time in addition to a decrease in pollution from vehicles.
Wireless, Programmable LED Street Lights & Signs
Farmington Hills in Michigan has employed LED street lights which boast energy conservation and improved safety. The lights are wireless and programmable, adjusting light output based on the time of day and the amount of foot or vehicle traffic.
There are also wireless, programmable street signs, able to display anything from a street name to amber alerts or traffic warnings. These signs have audible capabilities as well, enabling verbal crowd control when pedestrian traffic is dense. Having LED street signs eliminates the need to manufacture physical signs, which can be wasteful for short-term construction or event notifications.
London, a smart city that has shown to be the top innovator for smart mobility and transportation, recently revealed a new crosswalk prototype that utilizes cameras and sensors to monitor real-time pedestrian traffic. It uses the data collected to adjust the crosswalk for pedestrian and vehicle needs. If there are no pedestrians, the crosswalk will disappear. Alternatively, if pedestrian traffic is heavy, the crosswalk will widen to accommodate extra walkers. This smart tech is responsive enough to stop traffic if someone were to unexpectedly run into the street, allowing for the capability of greatly reducing pedestrian fatalities. These smart crosswalks are an initiative to help smart cities achieve Vision Zero (zero traffic fatalities).
Environmental Decision Support Software
Behind all of these technologies there lies complicated data, which is then translated into an action – whether that’s a wider crosswalk or a longer green light. This leads to another aspect of intelligent transportation systems – environmental decision support software. Decision support software compiles raw data and personal knowledge to help a user make confident decisions. For example, WeatherBrain software compiles raw weather data to determine the chance of snowfall or the likelihood of black ice forming. This can help municipalities determine the need to clear or salt roads, improving road safety.
That’s a lot of smart tech – but there’s only more to come. A project called “Sidewalk Toronto” has just been announced, which is completely devoted to discovering more urban innovations. New ideas that will be tested consist of “taxibots”, a connected energy grid, underground garbage robots, and architecture that lends itself to creating microclimates.
With all of these innovations, it’s easy to imagine a future with safe roads, shorter commutes, reduced pollution, and a highly automated, yet responsive, world – free of traffic jams and vehicle collisions. What tech innovation are you excited to see next?