Covid-19: Smart school-zone beacons help keep students safe from traffic as schedules change


As students return to school changes in opening times due to the coronavirus pandemic are creating challenges for traffic engineers in making sure school zone safety beacons are slowing traffic during the correct hours – but now a new technology is helping to make sure changes can be made quickly and easily.

Traffic engineers working with more than 5,000 schools across the US can now use their smartphone or tablet to monitor and control school beacons (the flashing signs intended to slow drivers down as they pass by a school). The new technology, called The Glance Connected School Beacon System, was developed by intelligent transportation infrastructure solutions provider Applied Information.

Each smart beacon has its own cellular modem to handle communication, enabling traffic engineers to change on and off times, determine if the beacons are operating correctly and, if necessary, instantly alert the appropriate resources in the event of a failure.

One of the early adopters of the technology is the Gwinnett County Department of Transportation in Northeast Georgia. Gwinnett County has two public school districts, including the largest in the state and several large private schools that operate on differing schedules – made more complicated by changes brought on by the COVID pandemic.

Ken Keena, Gwinnett DOT ATMS/TCC section manager says the department is equipped to respond to changing schedules of the more than 150 schools in the county: “With the Glance system we can instantly respond and change the schedule of all 270 school zone beacons and configure them based on the needs of the individual districts or schools. We now have two-way communications so we can check the status of the beacons and LEDs without driving to all of them.”

Applied Information is a leading developer of smart cities, connected, and intelligent transportation system (ITS) solutions designed to save lives, improve traffic, drive commerce, and help the environment. Applied Information’s Glance Smart City Supervisory platform enables cities to manage all their traffic and ITS assets on one web-based application. Key product areas are smart traffic signals, school zone flashing beacons, emergency vehicle preemption, transit, and freight priority and ITS systems. AI’s free TravelSafely smartphone app connects drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians, and the transportation infrastructure for a safer mobility experience.

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About Author


Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).