HomeInternet of Things (IoT)NoTraffic brings cloud-based IoT to traffic lights in Canada

NoTraffic brings cloud-based IoT to traffic lights in Canada

The platform refits plain old traffic lights with sensors and edge processors, to bring urban traffic management to the cloud.

Urban mobility IoT solutions provider NoTraffic has announced the first deployment of its technology in Canada. NoTraffic’s tech is already in use in several American states, but they worked with Rogers Communications and the University of British Columbia for this new deployment.

“Traffic management hasn’t essentially change since Henry Ford pioneered the modern automobile production line more than a century ago,” said NoTraffic CEO and co-founder Tal Kreisler. There have been some innovations in the intervening decades, he said, but the vast majority of lighted intersections operate on simple timers, inductive loop systems, or other unsophisticated technology that hasn’t changed very much in considerably longer than many of the road’s users have been alive. The net result is that reprogramming or optimizing traffic is a laborious, time-consuming and very manual process.

“We have a network that’s completely offline, it’s all based on pretty fine timing, and it has no ability to share or receive data,” he said.

While traffic lights themselves haven’t changed very much since the 1960s, traffic certainly has. Urban traffic congestion is continuing to skyrocket. City planners are under immense pressure to modernize transportation infrastructure and make it safer. What’s more, governments around the world are spending billions to migrate public sector work to the cloud.

NoTraffic sees a unique opportunity with its technology, which brings the cloud even to plain old traffic lights. The platform combines IoT sensors at the street level, AI, and cloud tech aimed at easing urban gridlock, giving city transportation managers real-time info and the ability to implement traffic management policies from the cloud. Any intersection can be refit with the technology in about two hours, says Kreisler.

The system comprises IoT sensors installed at each intersection. A control box installed in the traffic light cabinet gathers the data and sends it in realtime to the cloud using LTE or 5G. The collection of sensors and AI smarts provides what NoTraffic refers to as “human-eye-level measurement” of approaching road users, differentiating between different types of pedestrian and motorized traffic. The sensors pick up connected vehicle data as well, thanks to DSRC and C-V2X support.

Onboard the control box, AI chugs away at the data collected at the edge, anonymizing, aggregating, analyzing, and streaming data, in real-time, over a mobile connection to NoTraffic’s cloud-based service, which does further analysis and processing. City traffic managers can see what’s happening on the roads, and can also make changes to traffic patterns straight down to the intersection level. But the platform operates on its own to autonomously manage and optimize traffic signals to keep things moving.

Rogers Business first announced its collaboration with NoTraffic in February. It was part of a broader smart city and smart building initiative. Rogers said it was working with NoTraffic and other stakeholders with expertise in smart water management, urban parking, mixed vehicle fleet management, and transit fleet management.

Ultimately, NoTraffic’s CEO sees his company’s platform as a way to unify disparate transportation vertical markets together to achieve new levels of efficiency.

“Today we’re not communicating. We have vehicles and traffic lights. You have traffic management. You have fleet management. You have ride hailing vehicles. But none of them are operating together. We see the future where all those verticals are starting to connect and operate together, relying on the grid support we provide,” said Kreisler.

With NoTraffic, city transportation managers will, for the first time, be able to optimize and prioritize traffic. “You can prioritize public transportation based on capacity and schedule, for example. You can provide different levels of service for different road users,” he said, giving the example of prioritizing pedestrian traffic near a school during the hours when kids will be walking, or prioritizing bikes over private vehicles.

NoTraffic adds a layer of contextual meaning missing from current systems, Kreisler said. “The world is moving to optimization of different goods and services. The way to achieve it, you need to have a smarter way to operate the network. It’s not just about the vehicles, it’s about the people and goods.”

It’s too soon to tell yet what effect NoTraffic will have on British Columbia’s local transportation system. For one thing, the BC installation is starting out small, occupying “about ten intersections and several roundabouts,” according to a company spokesperson. But if Redland, California’s experience with NoTraffic is any indication, it could be significant. A study done after two months of NoTraffic-managed traffic light optimization, with only 2% of city signals using the IoT tech, resulted in 900 hours of residential commuting delay eliminated, and 11 tons of carbon emissions reduced.

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