Using real-time data to manage road incidents in the Region of Waterloo

To enable a relatively small traffic operations team to monitor and manage an expansive and increasingly complex transportation infrastructure, the Region of Waterloo needed an efficient, effective, modern solution to manage its network.

The Region wanted a solution that could automatically alert to road incidents and that would enable remote assessment and, where possible, resolution. Using Miovision TrafficLink, the Region’s traffic operations team receives immediate alerts of road or infrastructure incidents, enabling the team to:

  • Remotely monitor and resolve incidents
  • Use infrastructure alerts to prioritize maintenance resources
  • View streaming video from intersection cameras to verify and assess incidents
  • Send automated alerts of road issues to transit and emergency medical services

“With TrafficLink you have cameras and real-time information coming back to do the fieldwork from the traffic management center and get issues cleared more quickly.”
Mark Liddell, Region of Waterloo Traffic Analyst

Rapid infrastructure changes create new complexity

Known as Canada’s Tech Triangle because of the large number of technology companies located within a tri-city area, the Region of Waterloo is one of Canada’s largest population centers. To accommodate the rapidly growing population, the Region is investing in a long list of infrastructure developments, including bicycle infrastructure, the introduction of roundabouts, and one of Canada’s most advanced light rail transit systems.

A byproduct of these many changes is an increase in the complexity of the transportation infrastructure — which by this point included more than 500 traffic signals — and a desire to understand multimodal usage throughout the Region.

Choosing a solution that will scale

In the past, the Region relied on citizen complaints or police calls to be alerted to traffic problems; however, there was recognition within the traffic team that this approach had obvious limitations. Everyone involved knew that a new solution was needed, but municipal budgets are tight and the traffic operations team was relatively small.

After analyzing a number of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) solutions, the Region chose Miovision TrafficLink because of its:

  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Ease of implementation
  • Ability to easily scale with the Region’s planned growth

Taking action faster and more efficiently

In June 2016, a collision at one of the region’s busiest intersections clearly demonstrated how the TrafficLink platform is helping the Region’s traffic team. When the collision occurred, the performance measures within TrafficLink clearly showed there was an issue through:

  • A spike in travel time along the corridor
  • A significant drop in southbound vehicle volumes

These metrics alerted the city engineers within minutes of the accident. Immediately after becoming aware of the collision, engineers were remotely monitoring the situation in real-time through the SmartView 360 camera. The team was able to act quickly, dispatching the necessary resources to resolve the issue, instead of waiting for citizen complaints to start pouring in.