Toronto traffic management will get ‘smarter’ in 2015

Thinking Cities
By Thinking Cities January 7, 2015 13:03

Toronto traffic management will get ‘smarter’ in 2015

The City of Toronto plans to spend more than $7 million this year to tackle road congestion with the lion’s share of money going towards an upgrade of the computers and cameras that help drivers get where they’re going faster.

Planned improvements include 80 additional traffic cameras as well as a “smart signals” pilot project at 20 major intersections.

“The signals take input regarding real-time traffic flows, run it through an algorithm and ask ‘how should I allocate green time to minimize delays,’” said Stephen Buckley, Toronto’s transportation manager.

The city already uses similar signals at 330 intersections, Buckley said. However, the existing technology is getting old and is costly to maintain. While the current system manages traffic on an intersection-by-intersection basis, newer software can examine the city’s entire road network.

“So, if you’re travelling northbound on Bay Street, the signal at King Street will speak to the signal at Richmond Street and so on,” said Buckley.

Buckley estimates the cost of smart signals at between $50,000 to $100,000 per intersection, but said they save drivers far more in terms of time. For example, a report headed to a council committee this week says the cost-benefit ratio of re-timing lights along Yonge Street was at least 25 to one.

“People tend to value their commute time at a rate of about half their hourly wage,” Buckley said.

The city is also considering how it can make use of transportation data collected by companies like Google or on-board GPS providers like TomTom.

Google Maps’ traffic feature, for example, uses data collected from smartphone users to map real-time traffic patterns across major cities.

Buckley believes “big data” could help the city better plan its traffic patterns and even offer residents custom alerts about congestion along their daily commutes.

“We’re inundated with data,” he said. “The goal is to explore how we can tap into it.”

Story: Metro News.ca

 

 

 

Thinking Cities
By Thinking Cities January 7, 2015 13:03