Building a smart city? Dream big, but start small.

Safer streets, reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and complete streets strategies: when you think of smart cities, these types of goals typically top the list. But while it’s important to dream big, most smart city success stories don’t start that way.

Many cities today are still struggling with maintaining their traffic network – they’re looking for ways to deal with inefficiency, aging infrastructure, and a lack of resources. While a smart city is the ultimate objective, cities must remain focused on dealing with the day-to-day issues impacting their citizens. Several years ago, the City of Detroit was facing this very problem.

Now home to the World’s Smartest Intersection, the City of Detroit has come a long way. But what you might not know is that it all started with one small but crucial step: connecting their traffic signals. That’s because without the ability to take care of the basics, cities are unable to solve bigger problems. For instance, cities need a proper signal infrastructure backbone in order to solve larger issues like transit reliability or emergency response times. Once signals are connected, traffic teams can communicate with them remotely, significantly improving their ability to solve day-to-day problems in a traffic network.

When you start at the intersection, building a smart city stops feeling like an unattainable vision, and begins to feel more like an achievable goal that you can build upon, one step at a time.

Connecting your signals

Signal Communications is just one of the six smart city solutions we offer at Miovision, but it may very well be the most important one. That’s because connected traffic signals are the first key step to any advanced use of ITS technology – the building blocks for the smart city. Once your signals are connected, you no longer have to wait for citizen complaints to know when there’s a problem. Traffic teams receive alerts when issues arise, and can automatically assign them to the right person to ensure everyone can focus on the most urgent and impactful problems first.

Once traffic signals are connected, cities can monitor and manage them remotely, and begin to gather the data they need to make informed decisions about their traffic network. Plus, with access to Automated Traffic Signal Performance Measures (ATSPMs), cities can measure the effectiveness of changes to their traffic network, so they’ll know if changes worked.

In this new world where infrastructure generates valuable data, it’s important cities make sure they actually own the rights to it. This allows them to share their data with academia, partners, and other stakeholders to create innovative solutions to their problems. It means that data is used to the benefit of citizens, not for the profit of a select few companies.

Build your smart city one intersection at a time

A smart intersection puts the safety of citizens first, communicates with the world around it, and completely transforms the way traffic engineering teams operate. From there, cities can begin to explore the potential of how one smart intersection can lead to many, and ultimately end with the creation of a fully interconnected smart city.

Once cities lay the proper foundation, the future potential for solutions like freight signal priority, cyclist dilemma zone extensions, pedestrian safety analytics, and automated responses to traffic issues, become add-ons. Like adding a new app to your smartphone, adding new features to your smart city infrastructure becomes easier with the right hardware already in place.

The City of Detroit has done just that. They now have a way to identify and manage all the day-to-day operational and mobility issues in their city, and the potential to achieve their smart city vision all in one platform. They are a real-life example of how an investment originally made to solve traffic problems has the potential to become the foundation for innovative smart city solutions.

If you’d like to chat about Signal Communications or smart intersections, book some time with me directly, here.