Leaving the Windy City

 

by Christine Parisi
Business Development Manager
All Traffic Solutions

 

There’s nothing quite like an International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference to really unify the law enforcement industry. Personally, I am immediately reminded of the hard work and dedication put forth towards the notable profession it continues to be. Why else do you think 5-year olds dream of becoming cops, firefighters or other related professionals? It’s actually pretty simple. They are the “good guys” who fight the bad guys. Plus, they get to wear cool outfits, drive fast cars, and carry shiny toys that keep them safe! You can’t seriously tell me you don’t get a little excited when the Bad Boys theme song comes on, can you?

In 1893, The very first International Association of Chiefs of Police was held in Chicago, and after 126 years the city was excited to say “welcome home”. This year’s gathering welcomed everyone from the The President of the United States to celebrity guest Danny Devito. If that isn’t a random pair I don’t know what is. Both attended to pay their respect and show their admiration for the consistent dedication and bravery put forth every day on the job by so many. Chief of Police, Kristen Ziman from Aurora, Illinois Police Department said she believes that policing is one of the most noble professions, and I couldn’t agree more.

President Donald Trump speaks to the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference and Exposition,  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Aside from the busy streets of Chicago (I thought DC was bad!) and political punches between Chief Eddie Johnson and President Trump, there was much to see and learn. Here are my thoughts on what I found to be the “hot topics” related to our mission at All Traffic Solutions:

 

  • Safety:

    Community residents all want to feel safe, so they put their trust in law enforcement. In order for that to work, law enforcement must put their trust in us (i.e. our products). All Traffic Solutions puts our customers’ safety first every day. We manufacture products such as count and classification devices that install safely on the side of the road and use low power, eliminating the dangers offered from alternative solutions like road tubes. Other safety solutions we cover include, Wrong Way Notification, and Flood Alert. Both focusing on emergency preparedness with rapid deployment and conditional sensor messaging.

  • School Zone Speed Awareness:

    I had several conversations with attendees on the issues around school zone speeding. The general consensus was, there are solutions that are helping to reduce the risk, but this ongoing problem needs way more community and press focus more than anything; and should be addressed by installing radar speed signs and radar message trailers. School zone traffic safety is a top priority at ATS. Our SmartZone for Schools solution deploys two or more Shield 12 radar speed signs with a built-in audible alert system to warn students, crossing guards and other pedestrians when speeding vehicles are near. This effective warning exceeds the noise from everyday distractions. We even take it one step further through the variable messaging capabilities of our SpeedAlert radar signs to notify the public in real time.

  • Tech Efficiency:

    There is a tech race being run for the attention and budget of law enforcement professionals. We all want to make their jobs easier and safer. But, at the end of the day it comes down to simplicity, reliability, and efficiency. Just answering on efficiency alone, our products save time, money, and resources. One customer at our booth called his SpeedAlert “employee of the month, every month.” We understand the high demands put on law enforcement, which is exactly why we patented TraffiCloud; which automatically collects sign data so they can generate preset data-driven reports that are efficient and easy to use. These reports show (among other data points) high speed violations by time, day, and 85th percentile so traffic officers know the exact areas of focus. It’s time saved.

  • Flashing lights, helicopters and desert rescue hovercrafts:

    Back to the whole child dream of becoming a cop or firefighter, I can’t help but recognize what I like to call the “badass booths”. IACP conferences really know how to bring in the big guns. I’m pretty sure every exhibitor and attendee made it a point to visit theDubaiPolice and check out their desert rescue batman spaceship. We agree that flashy lights are eye catching. Especially when you’re driving 100 mph down the freeway and see red and blue strobes displaying your speed. Hopefully a different set of red and blue strobes don’t continue to tail you in your hurried commute.

  • Body cameras, bulletproof vests and tasers:

    I would also like to recognize what I call the “that will save my life” booths. If officers are going to protect us, they need to be protected. Remember, these men and women are fighting a war on gun control in our schools, protecting their own against riots and protests, all while responding to mandatory speeding complaints. In other words, “that will save my life” is equally important to them as what will save others’ lives? 

On my flight back to Washington, while waiting two hours on the tarmac for our plane to defrost, I found myself sitting next to Erin Vermilye, Director of IACP and 15 years with the Association. We chatted about our similarities, like both being from Pennsylvania and moving to DC, along with how we ended up in our current occupations. I didn’t know Erin prior to this, but I felt like I did because we had a common goal of what we wanted from a job; helping people and working for a noble cause. She might be a Philly girl, and me a Pittsburgh girl, but sometimes the world feels comfortably small, even on an international level.

Traffic Calming Measures to Save Pedestrian Lives

 

As immersed as we are in traffic statistics each day at ATS, this particular statistic from a 2011 AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study never ceases to hit home: “The average person hit by a car traveling 25 mph has a 12 percent chance of death. That drops to a 7 percent risk at 20 mph.”

Pedestrian survival rates decrease as vehicle speed increases. The chance of a person dying as a result of being struck by a vehicle decreases 5 percent when the speed of the vehicle is just five mph lower. That’s one percentage point less for every reduced mile of speed. But if you double the vehicle speed from 20 mph to 40 mph, the chance of death doesn’t merely double from 7 percent to 14 percent—it skyrockets to 85 percent according to a National Transportation Safety Board 2017 study.

Pedestrian deaths from speeding increase exponentially as vehicle speed increases. Once cars reach a certain speed (just above 20 mph), they rapidly become more deadly. Think about the speed limits in your community, especially around schools, parks and shopping areas. If speed limits in those areas are set higher than 20 mph, it’s probably time to reassess and request a lower speed limit, as well as anywhere else where there is a disproportionate number of speeding vehicles.

Look at these stills from ProPublica’s interactive graph:

Graph: ProPublica

Traffic Calming Measures

Radar signs are a versatile and effective traffic calming method and an efficient way to gather highly accurate speed data.

To demonstrate the volume and percentage of speeding vehicles on any given road, you’ll need to gather accurate speed data. You can run quick, easy speed studies using a radar speed display such as the Shield radar sign or SpeedAlert radar speed display from All Traffic Solutions.

Both the web-enabled Shield and the SpeedAlert capture accurate speed and volume data, and when you the TraffiCloud traffic management system this data is automatically uploaded so you can run pre-designed reports and charts for traffic studies. Either device can also gather data in “stealth mode” so the sign appears to be turned off and drivers won’t slow down as they pass. This provides true data of drivers who aren’t on their “best behavior” because of the sign.

Radar speed displays are perfect for handling speed complaints—deploy one in lieu of a police officer and you save money and enable law enforcement to stay in the field. Then simply select your date and time range in TraffiCloud and produce a report to present to the citizen that shows the real story on speeding down their street.

If your goal is to increase traffic safety in your neighborhood, radar speed signs are effective traffic calming devices. All Traffic Solutions customers are seeing reductions in speed of as much as 23% and more after installing a radar speed display—making them one of the fastest, easiest and most effective traffic calming measures.

If you’d like more information on any of our cloud-based traffic calming solutions, contact us to speak with a solutions specialist, or you can request a quote now on any of our portable traffic devices.

To test out ProPublica’s interactive speed chart click here.

Sharing Traffic Data: How Law Enforcement, Public Works and Municipalities Benefit

 

Public Works Installs SpeedLane Pro Counter Classifier from ATS

 

As towns and cities everywhere become more populated and industry continues to grow, our roads have become more congested, with more residential and commercial vehicles hurrying to get where they’re going. Increased traffic means more delays at some times and more speeding and traffic incidents at others. Though the solutions may be up for debate, one thing is for sure, the state of traffic on our nation’s roads falls under the jurisdiction of law enforcement, public works and local government in some way.

It can lead to the need for more frequent road maintenance, especially in areas with heavy commercial traffic, and traffic studies in others, to address shifts in population and commerce. For law enforcement, increased traffic has traditionally meant more officers assigned to carry out the important, neverending tasks of enforcing traffic speed, managing safety and responding to community concerns about both. For municipalities and public agencies, increased traffic has meant assigning more traffic engineers and other personnel to carry out the important, never-ending tasks associated with managing volume, speed and safety, as well scheduling road maintenance and construction.


Budget Restrictions Call for Creative Traffic Solutions

In today’s economy, cuts and hiring freezes have made it necessary for agencies and municipalities to become more resourceful in order to achieve traffic safety goals and manage risks. One solution lies in approaching the problem from a new perspective—one that leverages the technology with automated traffic data collection and reporting allowing for real-time sharing of data and analytics.


Sharing Data Has Many Benefits

Safer Communities
Sharing current, accurate data within a department and with surrounding agencies forms alliances that profoundly impact the safety and well-being public works departmentof our communities. Traffic intelligence enables coordination between traffic engineers who design roadways, public works departments who manage all the signage and road marking, and police departments who are responsible for traffic calming and enforcement.

For example, if there’s an area that experiences a lot of accidents annually, maybe that’s because the road markings or signs are inadequate, because the speed limit is too high, or because the intersection signal timing is too rapid. There are a number of reasons why those accidents may be occurring that have little to do with policing. Sharing traffic data helps departments lessen their individual burdens and responsibilities of calming traffic, reducing accidents and making roadways safer for the public.

Budgeting and Funding
school zone safety radar speed signCooperation among multiple departments within city and town governments is important as well as mutually beneficial. Spreading the cost of traffic safety equipment and software across two or more budget proposals has a better chance of being approved than if one agency makes the request. Government agencies often notice this trend when applying for grant funding. Many of the high-dollar grants require multiagency participation and that can be difficult when not all agencies share the same mindset or commitment to the partnership. By sharing traffic data with other agencies, partnerships can be formed, and groups can work together toward funding the solutions that benefit everyone.

Agencies can also pool their funds, such as for the purchase of traffic safety equipment that collects data. Recently, the Vienna Town Council in Virginia unanimously approved the purchase of eight portable SpeedAlert signs and Traffic Suite management software from All Traffic Solutions, which town officials will pay for using money from capital-improvement funds and the town’s traffic-engineering operating budget; the remaining portion will come from the Virginia Department of Transportation. “On a per-dollar basis, this might be one of the best expenditures we have,” said Councilmember Pasha Majdi.

LMPD with SpeedAlert radar speed displayATS customer Louisville Metro Police Department recently purchased nine new SpeedAlert trailers, complete with red and blue strobe lights, with funds provided by the Republican Members of the Louisville Metro Council. The radar speed displays upload speed and volume data to the ATS TraffiCloud automatically so the Department can run reports to respond to complaints, understand speed and volume trends and prioritize problem areas that require enforcement. The Department will share report access with the City Council and other elected officials so that they can monitor traffic information themselves.

Identify Problem Areas to Prioritize Enforcement

The ability to pinpoint high-speed areas and when problems are at their worst enables law enforcement to assign officers when and where they can do the most good, conserving resources and traffic equipment. With access to historical and real-time volume data for specific areas, the department of transportation can spot trends, look at ways to reroute traffic, change the timing of lights or make other adjustments to keep traffic moving and incidents at a minimum.

Long-term Planning
Traffic data can help identify what each agency will require in the future in terms of traffic safety and improvements. Analyzing traffic data allows municipalities to identify the locations and severity of traffic congestion and safety issues in the community to see which are trending upward and will require more long-term solutions, such as adding more traffic lanes or signals. Sharing traffic data helps law enforcement enormously in planning and budgeting for new traffic equipment and for resource allocation.

Holistic View of the Future
More and more municipalities are sharing data between agencies so that everyone can benefit from a larger, integrated database that paints a more holistic picture of the future. For example, when DOTs share traffic volume data with law enforcement, they can use that information to assign officers to a particular road during peak congestion hours. The vehicle count and classification data collected for traffic studies is helpful to them as well, for example, in identifying where trucks or motorcycles are most likely to speed through neighborhoods.

The city’s traffic engineers will find count and classification data useful, too. They can use it to determine how long to make turning lanes or to identify where they may need to reroute trucks away from heavy local traffic. Urban planners can use traffic data intelligence to plan new business and shopping districts, parking facilities and residential developments. Intelligent transportation and smart cities initiatives can use the data to build conditional messaging or dynamic traffic routing in real time, using a flexible open platform that integrates with existing equipment and systems. When public agencies share their data, everyone benefits from the combined pool of intelligence it creates.

Adopt a “Data-Analytics” Mindset
As municipalities and law enforcement find themselves continually challenged by the growth in population, commerce and sheer volume of traffic, adopting a data-sharing strategy to traffic management is more critical than ever. By applying a shared “data analytics mindset,” agencies can capitalize on the trends they see taking place. The result is informed decision making that leads to better traffic management and resource utilization, reduced congestion and work zone accidents, improved community relations and safer roads for everyone.

If you would like to simplify and streamline the collection, management and sharing of traffic data in your municipality, we’re here to help.

For more strategies and tips on how to use traffic data to reduce costs, maximize resources and keep your community safe, read our white paper How to Use Data and Analytics to Achieve Your Traffic Management Goals.