Smart Traffic Signals

The City of Edmonton has a Smart Roads plan that works to move goods and people as efficiently as possible. Smart traffic signals are being tested and implemented in cities across North America. Some test cities like Pittsburgh are incorporating signals that can communicate with each other, adjust on-demand, and provide real-time data. The results of the pilot to date are reductions of 40 percent in vehicle wait time, nearly 26 percent in travel time, and 21 percent in projected vehicle emissions. Unlike other dynamic control signals that adjust the timing and phasing of lights according to limits that are set in controller programming, this system combines existing technology with artificial intelligence.

The City of Edmonton has a large number of traffic signals across the city at various stages in their lifespan that will need to be replaced over time. The possibility of helping improve the flow of people and goods through new smart signals is worth exploring. Therefore I put forth the following notice of motion on Tuesday, February 13th:

That Administration provide a report on smart traffic signals which will include the following:

1) The average age of our traffic signals across the city, estimated lifespan, and replacement costs of all traffic signals.

2) An overview of how the current traffic signals work in Edmonton (ex: communication with other signals, ability to respond to traffic flow for people who drive, use transit, walk, and/or bike).

3) An overview of the differences between signals that we use in Edmonton and the smart traffic signals that are currently available and being tested in cities such as Toronto and Pittsburgh.

4) The estimated impact to travel times and emissions between standard and smart traffic signals.

5) How smart traffic signals fit in with our Smart Roads plan.

6) How smart traffic signals will work with automated vehicles.

7) A proposal to pilot the use of smart traffic signals in Edmonton.

I think it’s important to look at a city-wide approach in updating our traffic lights, potentially before the end of their life-cycle, to determine the impact this would have on travel time, congestion, and emissions. The other key aspect of this will be the connecting to automated vehicles which continue to evolve rapidly. For more information about how we are preparing our city for this technology, please review this post from last March. I look forward to continuing this discussion when the report is provided. 

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