Transportation staff with the City of Edmonton have committed to begin shifting traffic signals to new smart technology.
Members of city council’s urban planning committee were told on Tuesday that this September, council will get a report that spells out a set of test corridors.
As well, when the next four-year budget is adopted this fall, plans will be to begin shifting over to new signal lights for those times when the old ones are replaced.
“That’s now going to be the standard, which is that they will build that,” said an encouraged Councillor Andrew Knack who has been pitching this technology. “So the next four-year budget, if they were going to spend X amount of dollars for replacement of traffic signals, it’ll now be X amount plus the incremental cost to make sure they’re fully smart, AI- (artificial intelligence) enabled traffic signals.”
Watch below: On Feb. 27, 2018, Quinn Ohler filed this report about Edmonton looking at ways to move traffic more efficiently through trouble spots on city roads using artificial intelligence.
Councillors were told that there would be double-digit savings in travel time, idling time at intersections, and as a result, reductions in emissions.
“You’re moving efficiently through, so to me, this is a financial win for the city because it helps people move efficiently — that’s good for business, that’s good for people and it’s an environmental win,” Knack told reporters.
Base figures will need revising based on the amount of work that will be done at any given time, however, the initial range is from $100,000 for those intersections that would already be compatible, to $200,000 for older locations.
The most expensive upgrades would be $400,000 “at some intersections with ageing signal poles and fixtures,” according to the report that councillors debated.
“In these cases, administration would co-ordinate with other capital rehabilitation projects to optimize savings.”
Deputy city manager Gord Cebryk told councillors that the technology is at a point where it can be a benefit to Edmonton’s traffic operations.
“It is taking real-time data and adjusting the signals to accommodate that real-time data — whether it’s pedestrian volumes or vehicle volumes — and it is basically providing a level of service that is more aligned with what the actual demand is.”
Knack added that it can do traffic counts on a daily basis instead of once every couple of years.
“We know that there’s a need now,” he said, “We know that there’s intersections across the city, and more importantly, corridors across the city where this technology would start benefiting us right away.”
The technology has already been tested in Pittsburgh and Toronto. Knack said even if Edmonton sees just a five-per cent improvement, it would be worth it.