Making traffic safer is the driving force behind a new smart city project in Portland, OR. The project, the first major milestone for Portland's Smart City PDX urban data and technology initiative, involves the installation of 200 Current by GE CityIQ sensors. The sensors are powered by Intel IoT technology and they're being placed on existing smart light fixtures on some of the deadliest streets in the city.
The sensors will provide data on the number of vehicles and pedestrians as well as vehicle speeds. City traffic engineers will use the data to can improve street safety design and support Portland's Vision Zero goal of making the streets safe for all users.
The sensor project, which installed new mast arms and the sensors on street light poles on the three corridors, cost just over $1 million.
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"Portland is leading the country in this important data effort," said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. "We are at the forefront of using advanced technology to make our cities safer for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers, helping people more easily get around, save time and reduce the possibility of crashes. This pilot is a significant step in acquiring and utilizing data to make critical decisions."
"Designing safe streets starts with good data," said PBOT Director Leah Treat. "Until now, collecting this data was time and volunteer intensive. Now with these smart sensors, we can get real-time data about how Portlanders are using our streets. As a result, our traffic engineers will be smarter and Portlanders will be safer."
In addition to improved data insights, the CityIQ open platform is designed to handle future growth using the same street lighting infrastructure, so Portland can continue adapting and developing new applications that meet the specific needs of the city and its residents.
"Portland is a great example of how every city is able to tailor their solution to meet specific challenges and opportunities," said Austin Ashe, Smart Cities general manager for Current by GE. "For example, we will be working with Portland to extract bicycle data to better understand the bicycle traffic volume and cyclists' interactions with vehicle and pedestrian traffic to improve safety for all."
San Diego's smart city initiative also began with a 200 node pilot and today has grown to 3,400, according to Bruce Stewart, Current's chief marketing officer.
Having more nodes in Portland will help the city streets be safer for everyone. "At the heart of it is, how can the city truly understand the data about what's happening with pedestrians, cycles and drivers, and traffic, and so forth, in order to give them that kind of valuable set of data, turned into insights, that let them drive to their goals here to make the city safer," he said.
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Teena Maddox is a Senior Writer at TechRepublic, covering hardware devices, IoT, smart cities and wearables. She ties together the style and substance of tech. Teena has spent 20-plus years writing business and features for publications including People, W and Women's Wear Daily.