Smart Traffic Sensors Collect Data In Portland

Mayor Ted Wheeler joined officials from the Portland Bureau of Transportation and representatives from Intel, AT&T, Current by GE and Portland General Electric Monday to celebrate the Traffic Sensor Safety Project, the first major milestone for Smart City PDX, the City of Portland’s effort to use data and technology to improve people’s lives.

Rather than starting with a technology and looking for reasons to use it, Smart City PDX is structured to first identify inequities and disparities in the city and then strategically apply data and technology to address those challenges.

On June 20, 2018, Portland City Council will vote on the Smart City PDX Priorities Framework, a structured process for evaluating new technologies, uses of information, and related partnerships to ensure they provide tangible benefits to the people of Portland. As the first project under the Smart City PDX banner, the Traffic Safety Sensor Project helped to inform the development of the Priorities Framework.

For the Traffic Sensor Safety Project, the City is installing 200 Current by GE CityIQ™ sensors, powered by Intel® IoT technology, on SE Division, 122nd and SE Hawthorne, three of Portland’s deadliest streets. The sensors will provide around-the-clock counts of 0vehicles and pedestrians as well as information about vehicle speeds. With this new data, city traffic engineers can improve street safety design and support Portland’s Vision Zero goal of making the streets safe for all users.

“Portland is leading the country in this important data effort,” said Mayor Ted Wheeler. “We are at the forefront of using advanced technology to make our cities safer for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers, helping people more easily get around, save time and reduce the possibility of crashes. This pilot is a significant step in acquiring and utilizing data to make critical decisions.”

“Designing safe streets starts with good data,” said PBOT Director Leah Treat. “Until now, collecting this data was time and volunteer intensive. Now with these smart sensors, we can get real-time data about how Portlanders are using our streets. As a result, our traffic engineers will be smarter and Portlanders will be safer.”

In addition to improved data insights, the CityIQ open platform is designed to handle future growth using the exact same street lighting infrastructure, so Portland can continue adapting and developing new applications that meet the specific needs of the city and its residents.

“Portland is a great example of how every city is able to tailor their solution to meet specific challenges and opportunities,” said Austin Ashe, Smart Cities General Manager for Current by GE. “For example, we will be working with Portland to extract bicycle data to better understand the bicycle traffic volume and cyclists’ interactions with vehicle and pedestrian traffic to improve safety for all.” 

“As a leader in IoT and Smart Cities, we know the transformational benefit that technology can have on cities,” said Michael Zeto, VP of AT&T IoT and General Manager of Smart Cities. “Portland is at the forefront of unlocking these possibilities and we expect our AT&T Digital Infrastructure to have a strong impact on improving safety and efficiency in the community.”

The safety project is part of Smart City PDX, the City of Portland’s urban data and technology strategy. A finalist in the 2016 Smart City Challenge sponsored by the United States Department of Transportation, Portland has continued to expand its overall effort to use data and technology to increase safety, reduce inequities and improve the quality of life for Portlanders.

“Smart collaborations between city officials, corporations and software developers are creating infrastructures that empower citizens while making our cities more resilient and responsive.  The City of Portland deployment of smart traffic sensors is a great example of this and will improve the safety and quality of life for its citizens,” said Jonathan Ballon, vice president, Internet of Things Group at Intel.  “Together, Intel, Current by GE, Portland General Electric (PGE) and AT&T provide an innovative smart lighting solution to enhance Portland’s downtown infrastructure, optimize traffic patterns, and increase safety.”

The sensor project, which installed new mast arms and the sensors on street light poles on the three corridors, costs $1,012,000. It was funded with general transportation revenue, system development charges and contributions by the project’s private sector collaborators.

“PGE is thrilled to be working with the city on a number of smart city initiatives,” said Larry Bekkedahl, vice president of transmission and distribution, PGE. “By partnering and innovating together, we can create a more purposeful, informed, and sustainable way of living.” 

The data gathered from the sensors will be collected in the Portland Urban Data Lake (PUDL). Part of the overall Smart City PDX initiative, PUDL will collect, store, combine, and analyze data from a variety of sources including the Traffic Safety Sensor Pilot. The goal of PUDL is to provide a foundation for data-driven decision making, helping the City of Portland to harness the power of data to improve City services.

Source: City of Portland

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