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State freeway projects and traffic from nearby Atlanta create congestion only artificial intelligence can handle.
Residents in Cobb County, Georgia, will soon be able to plot out their morning commute with an app coupling government and Waze data to provide real-time information about road conditions and crashes.
The county has spent the last two years integrating its urban traffic control system with geographic information systems, having previously used GIS in operations like water quality assessments.
The Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System, or SCATS, can already change traffic signals automatically using cameras that monitor how many cars are queued at lights.
By joining Waze’s Connected Citizens Program, a free data exchange, the county is improving its three-year-old Cobb Commute app notifying drivers of traffic speeds with more actionable insights. The county sends its road construction data to Waze and is piloting a dashboard showing road conditions and reported crashes at its Traffic Management Center.
“We’re actually doing all the testing for it,” county CIO Sharon Stanley told Route Fifty. “You will be able to use it very soon.”
Georgia is currently adding express lanes to major freeways like Interstate 75, and because Cobb County’s roads feed into them, “their traffic problems become our traffic problems,” Stanley said.
The Traffic Management Center is also using GIS with SCATS to manage event traffic and pedestrian flow at SunTrust Park, home to the Atlanta Braves. Artificial intelligence recognizes crowds and backups forming and preempts them.
“If you start controlling traffic signals too soon, then you backup all of Cobb Parkway,” Stanley said. “Too late and pedestrians backup to the stadium.”
The operations dashboard is easy to use, so the traffic manager can leave things to his or her subordinates.
A GIS-enabled traffic platform has also allowed the county to look at crash data for the past three years, as well as identify problem areas on roads. This means they can get strategic with how they spend money to make improvements.
Fixed-object crashes, where a vehicles run off the road and hit trees or guard rails, were found to occur where slopes were steep and curves sharp. In those places Cobb County will spend its limited dollars on guard rails or high-friction surfacing.
“Obviously, we can’t do that everywhere in the county,” Stanley said.
Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.
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