Sugar Land’s new Waze partnership to further improve its award-winning ITS program

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Already considered to have one of the most sophisticated traffic management systems in the Houston Metropolitan Area, the City of Sugar Land’s intelligent transportation system (ITS) has been given further capabilities due to a new two-way data-sharing partnership with Waze.

A Google company, Waze operates the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app. Sugar Land is the latest Texas city to join the company’s Connected Citizens Program, which will enhance the information already available to drivers through the addition of free, real-time crowdsourced traffic data from the Waze app.

The collaboration will provide Sugar Land traffic engineers with an unprecedented look at real-time road activity, enabling its state-of-the-art Traffic Management Center (TMC) to harness real-time driver insights to reduce congestion and make better-informed planning decisions.

Established as a two-way data share, Waze will provide Sugar Land’s ITS website with real-time, anonymous, driver-generated incident and slow-down information directly from the source — drivers and passengers themselves.

In exchange, Sugar Land will provide real-time construction, crash, event and road-closure data to Waze to return one of the most succinct, thorough views of current road conditions available. Sugar Land’s partnership with Waze directly addresses a need identified by residents in its most recent Citizen Satisfaction Survey.

While residents gave the city high marks for customer service, citizen communications and public safety, mobility continues to be an area of concern with an interest on further improvement.

The Waze partnership builds on past efforts and provides a foundation for future traffic initiatives identified in Sugar Land’s ITS Operations Plan, which is updated every four to five years to identify opportunities to improve mobility. Since the inception of the capital program, completed projects have:

• Improved traffic signal detection;

• Added essential traffic data gathering capabilities;

• Upgraded the school beacon system;

• Improved the city’s ITS website to help motorists with travel information;

• Optimized traffic signal timing on major corridors within the city;

• Upgraded traffic controllers with latest hardware/software;

• Implemented adaptive signal control on SH 6, with additional systems being deployed on US Highway 90A, and University Boulevard.

The majority of the equipment deployed in Sugar Land has been developed and manufactured by Trafficware Inc., which is based in the city. The technology includes more than 1,300 of the company’s wireless Valence Pod Detection System sensors, which are installed in the pavement at intersections to measure traffic volumes and enables the Trafficware ATMS.now adaptive traffic management platform to make real-time adjustments to signals based on demand. In 2017, the city received two awards from the American Public Works Association and ITS Texas for innovative use of technology.

“Designed as a free, two-way data share of publicly available traffic information, the Connected Citizens Program will promote greater efficiency, deeper insights, and safer roads for our citizens,” said Sugar Land’s director of public works, Rob Valenzuela.

“All of our ITS projects have brought benefits such as improved travel times on major corridors, real-time/historic traffic data which assists staff in making operation decisions, better sharing of traffic information to motorists, and a more reliable/self-reporting school beacon system.”

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About Author

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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