Connected vehicle deployment begins in North Carolina

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The Town of Cary in North Carolina has selected transportation technology developer Applied Information to upgrade its traffic control system with the latest Internet of Things (IoT), smart cities technology. The aim is to improve safety, maximize responsiveness and efficiency of traffic for all users, and provide valuable data for future applications and transportation projects.

The US$2 million project is the result of a matched federal grant between the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the Town of Cary, and it is the first of its kind in North Carolina. The project will provide IoT connectivity and connected vehicle applications to traffic signals, school zone safety beacons, pedestrian crosswalks and railroad crossings. Opportunities will be available to improve upon existing emergency and public transportation vehicle preemption at signals with a GPS-based system, offering greater distance and dynamic reactivity. The town’s traffic engineers will also be able to monitor and control the technology from their connected devices.

“Cary is a community that understands and appreciates how the use of technology can solve problems and improve the quality of life,” says Jerry Jensen, director of transportation. “We’re excited to continue our reputation as early adopters of technology, while building off our existing infrastructure to further improve citizen safety and our transportation system efficiency.”

In addition to the safety and planning benefits associated with the new technology, citizens have the option to use the TravelSafely smartphone app, which automatically connects with infrastructure and other users. This connectivity enables interaction between drivers and traffic control devices, delivering an extra layer of awareness and improved safety at intersections, in school zones and areas where vulnerable road users are present. TravelSafely will alert drivers if they are about to run a red light or are in potential conflict with a pedestrian or cyclist, informing them about where they are and how to adjust their actions to be safer.

The connectivity for the project is an LTE cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) network. This enables vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists, to use their smart phones to take advantage of its safety applications while on the streets. The C-V2X network technology enables emergency vehicles to communicate with multiple traffic signals in the direction of travel and change the light to green or hold the light green. Traffic in front of the emergency vehicle is kept moving while oncoming and cross-traffic is brought safely to a halt. Deployments in other municipalities indicate a time savings of about 10 seconds or more per light using the technology.

The town of Cary will upgrade a total of 205 traffic signals, 100 school safety zone beacons, 15 crosswalks, its fire apparatus, transit buses and at-grade rail crossings. ALS of North Carolina is the prime contractor. Applied Information is the technology provider along with Temple, Inc.

Images courtesy of Richard Carter

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Lauren is acting associate editor for Traffic Technology International and freelance journalist. Over the past 15 years, she has worked on a wide variety of B2B publications and websites, including a stint as deputy editor of Traffic Technology International from 2014-2016. She has a degree in English from the University of Exeter. Lauren is mum two busy little girls. She is always in demand!