Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Traffic Signal System of Tomorrow

Today at our regional meeting of the transportation operations staff, we discussed the operation of a future traffic signal system that advances beyond mid 1990s software programming. The system would have a graphical user interface that matches the functionalities of Google maps and the system would send text messages based on predefined criteria that alert us to problems such as the signal failing due to a loss of power or a conflicting movement. These are very basic things that we haven't set up to my knowledge. We use the public to tell us when signals are in red flash (and they are pretty good at it too).

We are not so good at knowing if the detection has failed or if the bus is calling for priority like we had set it up to do.

As we discussed that, I came back to reality recognizing that the budgets are tight and getting tighter. Yet there is an increasing need to make decisions based on data and to be data driven. The cross roads for this is a continuous investment in technology and communication that will have our systems report about how well they are operating and if there is some maintenance function that is necessary. The logical next step would be an expert system that prioritizes functions and action for an agency.

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