HomeChannelsFundamentalsThree smart traffic initiatives in North America

Three smart traffic initiatives in North America

Smart traffic management is a system wherein centrally-controlled traffic signals and sensors regulate the flow of traffic through the cities in response to specific demand levels. This type of implementation allows cities to reduce traffic congestion by smoothing traffic flows and prioritizing traffic in response to demand in real time and reduce pollution throughout the city, among other benefits. These systems eliminate stop-start driving, which is inefficient and polluting.

A growing number of cities across the U.S and Canada are starting to implement smart traffic projects. Here we describe three recent initiatives in the smart traffic field.


The city of Toronto, in Canada, has recently announced the launch of two smart traffic signal pilot projects which will be able to independently adjust to real-time traffic conditions.

Unlike standard traffic signals that are fixed to a set timing cycle for morning and afternoon rush hours and off-peak times, the new smart signals will be able to adjust traffic signals independently to respond to real-time traffic patterns at any time of the day. They can also communicate and synchronize with other smart signals in the vicinity to alleviate congestion.

Toronto currently uses a mix of traffic systems, some of which are over 20 years old, to control about 2,400 traffic signals across the city.

Under the smart traffic initiative, Toronto will test two technologies during 2018 to determine which works best for Toronto. The city will pilot a technology called InSync which makes decisions based on video-analysis camera detection that measures queue lengths on the approach to the intersection and relays that data to the signal. This system is mainly used in the U.S.

The second smart traffic system that will be tested is called SCATS which is used in Australia, Asia and the U.S. This technology makes decisions using radar detection to measure traffic flow on both sides of the intersection.


In 2017, Miami-Dade County had approved a project to install smart traffic signals at some of the county’s roadways. California-based company Econolite Control Products won the $11.1 million contract with Miami-Dade to expand a pilot program that introduced new technology to operate traffic lights according to the changing flow of vehicles.

Under the smart traffic contract, Econolite will install a total of 300 new smart traffic signals, which represents nearly 10% of all Miami-Dade traffic lights.

During the 2016 pilot project, a number of smart street signals had been installed along Miami’s Northwest 36th street, which resulted in a reduction in average travel time of about 10 minutes.

A study by the Metropolitan Planning Organization, a division of the county’s transportation department, selected the roadways on which the new smart traffic signals will be installed. The full deployment of the project will take approximately one year.

The company has recently launched its EOS traffic controller software, which is a next-generation, web-based user interface traffic control software. EOS is designed to expand traffic control capabilities, preparing agencies for the upcoming demands of connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) and smart city traffic control systems.


The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has recently selected San Francisco-based mobility analytics firm StreetLight Data to provide on-demand traffic and transportation intelligence.

Local, regional, and state planning agencies across Virginia utilize VDOT’s regional subscription to the online StreetLight InSight platform to transform big data from mobile devices into useful mobility metrics and travel pattern analyses.

Since 2015, StreetLight Data has been working with VDOT on several major initiatives on a project basis. Projects ranged from a statewide travel demand model to transportation demand management projects in Northern Virginia.

VDOT’s StreetLight InSight subscription provides unlimited analyses of real-world travel patterns in Virginia, and is available to designated employees of planning agencies and engineering firms. Projects currently underway using the platform include, but are not limited to:

-Congestion busting: Consultants are using StreetLight InSight to evaluate congestion mitigation -tactics on I-95 and other key corridors.

-Travel demand modeling: StreetLight InSight origin-destination flows are being used to update the Charlottesville-Albemarle regional travel demand model.

-Commercial truck studies: StreetLight InSight commercial truck metrics are being used to evaluate the impact of heavy-duty and medium duty trucks on congestion through I-66.

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