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smart cities

Home / Blog / smart cities
"Traffic
Blog, law enforcement, Make Parking Better, smart cities, traffic safety

Why Traffic and Parking Solutions are Critical for Communities of Concern

More than 90 Americans die every day in vehicular accidents. 

The bad news? It most likely won’t change until communities get proactive when it comes to traffic and parking safety. Despite the best efforts of cities like New York, the congestion on our roadways is leading to more pollution, more accidents, and more deaths. 

The good news? It’s tough to find a silver lining, but organizations like Vision Zero are tackling the problem head on. For the unfamiliar, Vision Zero is multi-national road traffic safety project that aims to achieve a highway system with no fatalities or serious injuries involving road traffic.

Vision Zero has identified “communities of concern” which it defines as the 12 percent of roads that more than 70 percent of accidents occur. Solving parking and traffic challenges in these communities is paramount to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities. 

Communities of Concern include areas where the following are higher: 

  • Older adults and adults without vehicles 
  • Children and school areas 
  • People with disabilities 
  • Impoverished areas or those with lower educational attainment
  • Chronic health conditions 
  • Safety concerns due to speed limits and crashes 

We recently announced that the Florida Department of Transportation (DoT) has added All Traffic Solutions to its list of preferred vendors on the Approved Products List. Moving forward, it could be one of our signs you see on the most dangerous roadways in Florida, whether it be US-1, I-95, I-75, or an arterial or collector road. Here’s why that matters:

  • Most DoTs are overburdened. Technology has changed a lot of things and has certainly made strides in impacting transportation. But, promises of tomorrow – self-driving cars, for example – still seem to be a long way off. Until these departments get some relief in dealing with the day in, day out issues they face managing transportation – whether it be cars, busses, trains, etc. – the roadways aren’t safe. Transportation options are outpacing infrastructure advances and most transportation offices are understaffed.  Internet of Things (IoT) devices that enable an administrator to quickly update a sign and warn people of impending traffic or danger is a step in the right direction for managing transportation issues. 
  • Today’s drivers are consumers of technology. We’re in an era where smart devices and IoT devices are used for everything from turning the lights on in a home to managing an entire lighting grid for a city. Drivers – today’s consumers – understand technology. The value of a well-placed sign that provides a heads-up versus heads-down reminder of driver speed and is updated real-time has a tremendous impact. 
  • Technology that literally saves lives. We talked about the sobering number of deaths on the roads each day. One sign can be the difference between life and death for a driver. Signs are often overlooked because of the labor involved with setting them up. But All Traffic Solutions has devices that can be set up by a single person and provides a platform that give DoTs and municipalities the power to have visibility to their entire community at one time and act based on environmental variables. I’ve written in this space before about the fears that hold communities back from integrating smart city technologies, but adopting just one sign makes a community a smart city – and is a major step toward increasing road safety in your community. 

We all know the dangers out there every time a citizen hops behind the wheel of a car and, as traffic parking and safety professionals, we have the power to put programs in place that save lives. We know you’re overtaxed and often fighting through bureaucratic red tape to make things happen. It’s hard to be proactive when you’re constantly putting out fires. But you can take the power back by leveraging traffic crash and safety data from local law enforcement, linking it up to smart devices, and proactively communicating traffic hazards.

 

 

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Blog, smart cities, Tech, Traffic Data

The Ongoing Conflict Between Data Privacy and Smart Cities: Will It End?

I’ve been drawn to the headlines coming out of San Diego, where a government watchdog group has sued the city over data it has collected from smart street lights.

This is a polarizing debate, and one that merits discussion. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, which has done a terrific job of covering this story since initial requests for information were made last month, “Critics fear the cameras are intrusive and could be used to spy on citizens, although police insist they are not monitoring the feeds. Some critics also raise concerns that there is a lack of oversight, as well as the potential for data mining.”

Consumers are increasingly concerned about data privacy – but continue to share data freely when it is a benefit to them. According to the 2018 Norton LifeLock Cyber Safety Insights Report, nearly 75 percent of Americans are more concerned about privacy, but two-thirds will make the trade off of personal data for convenience online. Smart devices for the home are being purchased at a record clip and no less than Amazon, Apple, and Google have pushed for an open standard for all devices to talk with one another securely.

The realization of smart cities has already made communities safer, cleaner, and more efficient and the technologies available to communities is only getting better. Being in the traffic and parking space, I witness daily the impact our smart traffic and parking solutions make in the communities that we serve. I’m not being dramatic when I say that there are times our technology – and those like ours – save lives.

However, this conflict we have between intelligent devices and data privacy is not going away anytime soon. Good data – data that can be trusted – is at the most critical component of every smart city technology.

So where do we go from here?

Residents must continue to be vigilant in protecting their privacy. The volume of cybersecurity incidents continues to increase and protecting our online identity is just as important as protecting our physical on

But, I wonder if we can continue to shift our thinking, much like we have when we give Amazon or Google permission to use our data to better our online experience? I made the point in my last post that we are in the infancy of smart city and it’s only natural to have fear and skepticism when embarking on a new technological journey, particularly one so deeply wedded to data collection. However, just one smart sign, light, meter, etc. makes a community smarter and isn’t that something to strive for?

The Union-Tribune article makes the point that “when they’re all installed, more than half of the lights will be equipped with cameras and technology that collects real-time data, which the city said it will use to help the community, including improving traffic congestion, making parking easier.

In addition, San Diego police can access the video footage from the lights in limited situations, like homicide or other violent crimes.”

It seems like there are a number of positive outcomes that can come from San Diego’s smart street lights. Traffic congestion cost the US $87B in 2018 and is bound to increase again when we see the 2019 data. In Washington, DC, the average driver lost 155 hours dealing with traffic. Those are staggering numbers and, despite the best efforts of cities like New York to curb traffic, only growing.

If we are willing to exchange data for online convenience, shouldn’t we also be open to exchanging it for programs that will make our communities safer and protect our residents?

"smart
Blog, smart cities

Don’t Let Fear Paralyze You: Becoming a Smart City Can Be Easier Than You Think

By Andy Souders
CEO, All Traffic Solutions

Smart city. The words elicit dreams of utopia.

And fear.

When  communities do smart city right – like in the case of New York City’s automated meter reading (AMR) to measure water usage or Sidewalk Labs’ initiative on the Toronto waterfront – and the benefits are clear. Technology can make your community more efficient and improve the lives of your residents. No one in our line of work can miss all the goodness that smart city promises.

But you’re likely not New York. Or Toronto, Tokyo, or Amsterdam. Cities that have significant money and resources to launch effective smart city initiatives. That doesn’t mean you can’t be Clarendon Hills, Illinois where the police department has moved to data-driven traffic enforcement. Or Minturn, Colorado, which illustrates how the collection and analysis of real-time traffic data can lead to a reduction in the number of citations issued and simplified speed limits.

The lesson? You don’t need to be a behemoth of a city to initiate a smart city project.

If Clarendon Hills and Minturn can do it, so can you. We have worked hand-in-hand with communities for decades now and we know it’s hard. The promise of being a smart city is exciting – but also overwhelming. Where do you start?

A lot won’t. They will look at the undertaking, the lack of resources, the buy-in needed to really make an initiative work and will make the decision that’s simply easier to not take it on. Maybe these communities are short staffed or budget challenged – or both.

We understand the reticence, but we’re here to encourage you. As a community, incorporate real-time data collection into just one process. In doing so, you’re a smart city.

You don’t need to have a plan to incorporate Internet of Things (IoT) and real-time data collection and analysis into every process in your community. Take one.

We know of the success stories but take a closer look and you’ll see none of them are of communities that have incorporated smart city initiatives universally. That may be the aspiration but the reality is that smart cities are five years old. And while progress has been made, there is still a long way to go. We are in our infancy. All the noise has likely made many communities feel as though they are behind – they are not.

Fully realized, a smart city is leveraging data from smart devices across all facets of its community. But most communities aren’t there yet. In my dealing with cities and towns across the country, they all love the vision of being a smart city: more efficient processes, better response times and a more proactive approach to planning for the future of all their citizens. But no one is ready to achieve that vision today, so we need to modulate what success looks like.

Start with one process. It could be something as bold as New York or Toronto, cities that have the muscle to take one complicated initiative and, in doing so, serve as examples of what we can achieve. Or it can be something equally important but more practical, like traffic and parking or waste management.

Being a full-fledged smart city does not happen overnight—it takes careful planning and implementation of carefully vetted technologies and solutions. But, if you haven’t done so already, now is the time to dabble. Take one small step toward being a smart city, revel in your accomplishments — and then take the next step.

 

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