The dawn of smart cities is upon us, using the internet of things (IoT) to solve big and little problems. In Georgia, Texas, and Hawaii, the world’s first Dual-Mode /Dual-Active vehicle-to-everything (V2X) deployment is easing traffic woes that effect public safety vehicles.
The technology uses dual mode chipsets by Autotalks that are installed in roadside units, such as traffic control boxes. Autotalks has teamed up with Applied Information Inc., an Alpharetta, Georgia-based provider of intelligent transportation infrastructure solutions, to provide traffic signal preemption technology that helps emergency vehicles reach their destination safely and quickly.
Traditionally, emergency vehicles travel through traffic with their lights or siren, or a combination of both, activated when on the way to a call. When they near an intersection, drivers must navigate the traffic signals, pedestrians, vehicles, and any road hazards, often times while at speed, all while receiving evolving information about the situation they are approaching.
In 1914, American Traffic Signal Company installed the first traffic light that could be used by police and fire personnel to control the signals in the event of an emergency. Over the last century, the traffic signal preemption technology has evolved, offering acoustic, line of sight, localized radio signal, and Global Positioning System (GPS) technology.
Generations of drivers grew up seeing Rad-O-Lites by the now-defunct Relco Emergency Light Company out of Erie, Pennsylvania, flashing white signals on the same line next to traffic lights alerting them to the presence of a nearby emergency vehicle that was responding to a call.
The Dual-Mode/Dual-Active Roadside Unit (RSU) that was developed allows emergency vehicles equipped with Autolinks/Applied Information V2X On Board Units to initiate traffic signal control measures. While the technology’s main use case is in emergency vehicle’s traffic signal preemption, it can also be used by transit buses for traffic signal priority and vehicles involved in roadside work zones.
The City of Alpharetta, Georgia was the first locality in the U.S. to deploy the company’s technology. According to a spokesperson for the Alpharetta Department of Public Safety, the RSUs are featured on all traffic signals controlled by the city – approximately 150 units.
The decision to implement the IoT solution came as the previous generation of traffic preemption technology reached the end of its lifespan. A request for purchase order process was initiated and Temple Inc. won the contract. Temple installed the Glance Smart City Supervisory System for the town, which uses the technology developed by Autotalks and Applied Information Inc.
The system is installed on all fire service vehicles and lower in the town’s Department of Public Safety hierarchy. The cost of the five-year contract was $300,000, all-in. The city is currently midway through its contract and the technology has been proven to “provide safer travel and shorter response time” for its first responders said Scott McCullers, Fire Operations Chief, City of Alpharetta Department of Public Safety.
At this time, the town has no plans to install the technology in police vehicles.
In Harris County, Texas, the chips are used in over 500 School Beacon Flasher Timers.
“The AI/Autotalks solution enables roadway operators to confidently deploy V2X technology today so the infrastructure is ready for the auto industry deployment, while providing ‘Day One’ benefits such as safer, faster emergency vehicle response times now,” said Bryan Mulligan, President, Applied Information.
Autotalks’ deployment-ready, second-generation V2X chipset is the world’s first available solution which supports both DSRC based on 802.11p/ITS-G5 standards and C-V2X based on 3GPP release 14 and 15 specifications with embedded V2X cyber-security functionality. The chipset allows customers to easily toggle between DSRC and C-V2X communications.