Central Florida gets federal grant to test smart city transportation technologies


Central Florida will advance several intelligent transportation system (ITS) technologies aimed at enhancing pedestrian safety and easing traffic congestion, with the awarding of a federal Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment (ATCMTD) grant.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has awarded US$11.9m to a partnership between the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), the University of Central Florida (UCF), and MetroPlan Orlando, to test several smart city transportation technologies locally and make recommendations, which could lead to national models.

Orlando has been selected as the center for the project because it is a rapidly-growing region, as well as one of the world’s busiest tourism destinations, making it suitable for testing technologies that show potential.

UCF will use its research capabilities and existing smart cities initiative to advance the project, while leading data collection and analysis efforts. In addition to being liaison with state and federal governments, FDOT will ensure the project can be scaled appropriately for other locations and applications, and will contribute software development, operations and data management expertise. MetroPlan Orlando will make sure projects meet their intended purposes and will facilitate collaboration among agencies and local governments.

ITS equipment will be installed on and around UCF’s main campus, which is uniquely positioned to advance smart technologies, as it is home to the nationally-recognized Center for Advanced Transportation Systems Simulation, which conducts research in the area of traffic safety, ITS, traffic simulation, transportation demand analysis, and transportation planning concepts and methods. Among the technologies to be tested are:

• PedSafe – an innovative pedestrian and bicycle collision avoidance system;

• GreenWay – which uses advanced traffic signal technology;

• SmartCommunity – for trip planning apps;

• SunStore – which integrates FDOT data;

• Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs).

The PedSafe system also will be tested in Pine Hills, a community that has faced significant challenges with pedestrian safety.

“This project puts Central Florida on the cutting-edge of technology in transportation, and it’s only the beginning. Once the technology is tested, we can then take the lessons learned and expand it to all of Central Florida,” said MetroPlan Orlando’s executive director, Harry Barley.

“We will be the forum where local governments and transportation organizations will come together to discuss how this can be deployed regionally.”

Professor Mohamed Abdel-Aty, who leads the smart cities initiative at UCF, noted, “Because UCF is a little city, we are in a good position to test these technologies in real-world situations. We aim to become a showcase for the future.”

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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).