At Global Traffic Technologies we see first-hand how infrastructure investments can be an invaluable tool for improving safety and increasing prosperity
In the US, the Biden Administration and Congress are currently considering historic investments in the nation’s infrastructure through the American Jobs Plan (AJP) and other proposals. This is an opportunity to deliver more than just investments in 20th-century physical infrastructure; it is a chance to provide the backend technology that will bring that infrastructure into the latter half of the 21st century, enabling the smart cities of the future.
At Global Traffic Technologies (GTT), we see first-hand how infrastructure investments can be an invaluable tool for improving safety and increasing prosperity, and we believe there are a host of Internet of Things (IoT)-based, technology-centred initiatives that can improve traffic safety and protect the environment for all, in both the short and long-term. Technology-based infrastructure investment can also play a vital role in driving greater social equity.
The following are six smart city-focused transportation, transit, and public safety technology initiatives we believe that any new government investment should incorporate.
Prioritize Smart Intersection Connectivity
To begin building the smart infrastructure needed to drive American cities into the future, we need to ensure our intersections are connected – either with fiber optic or cellular communications – and we should aim to achieve a 50 percent increase in connectivity of existing intersections by 2030. Smart intersections hold the potential for safer and more efficient, sustainable, accessible, and flexible traffic management.
Advance Vision Zero
We support President Biden’s proposed “Safe Streets for All” program to fund state and local Vision Zero plans. The 40,000 lives lost in the United States each year to traffic accidents is far too many. These tragic deaths take an enormous personal toll on families and communities and cost society at large in the form of taxpayer spending on emergency response and health care costs. Since traffic deaths are a pervasive and systemic issue, we embrace the Vision Zero approach of shifting the responsibility for road safety from individual users to a model of shared responsibility between traffic system designers and road users.
Promote Accessibility and Equity in Public Transit
Access to safe, reliable, and convenient transportation options has the power to transform the lives of users and the community at large. An increase in public transit ridership of 50 percent and the provision of greater accessibility for disadvantaged communities will expand and drive the benefits of public transit, including reduced congestion, decreased air and climate pollution, and enhanced social and economic opportunity. Mobility is deeply tied to social exclusion, as existing limitations on public transit service areas and transit accessibility can prevent marginalized groups from participating in the economic, political, and social aspects of their communities.
Research has shown that low‐income and economically disadvantaged populations tend to have significantly longer, more complex, and more unreliable commutes; smart, inclusive mobility is critical for cities of the future.
Protect Public Health by Reducing Harmful Emission
Governments should commit to reducing emissions of harmful conventional pollutants and greenhouse gases associated with the transportation sector by 75 percent by 2040. Reducing emissions from city traffic is an essential component of addressing climate change. A key strategy is using traffic signal priority control systems within smart cities. Such systems help to achieve emissions reduction goals by reducing the length of time public transit vehicles are idling; spur greater public transit ridership through improved system reliability and efficiency, and enhance individual vehicle efficiency by reducing start/stop driving.
Scale Infrastructure With The Power of Software
Financing our physical infrastructure with capital investment-intensive models worked for the 20th century, but those models now need to evolve to modernize infrastructure for the future. Cities should allow for more flexible, subscription-based purchase models that recognize the core role of innovative and IoT-based transportation and transit technology as infrastructure upgrades, not just services.
Incorporate Connectivity With Intersections Into All New Vehicles
Connectivity will power the smart cities of the future. We encourage vehicle manufacturers to equip all new vehicles with connectivity to the cloud or directly to intersections by 2035. By enabling all vehicles to interact with transportation infrastructure, cities can promote safety, reduce congestion and maximize traffic efficiency, thereby lowering emissions of harmful pollutants from vehicle transportation.
Collectively, these actions aim to create the most good for the most people. If implemented, they will help save lives, improve access to public transit mobility for the vulnerable and disadvantaged, improve the environment through lower emissions and reduced congestion, and expand the number of communities that will benefit from smart transportation technologies.
President of Global Traffic Technologies, LLC
the market leader in priority control based in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA.