Connected Traffic Signals: Do You Care? You Should.


Dave Bullock, Managing Director, ITS Line of Business, Miovision

Miovision has been conducting an annual peer survey on the state of traffic signals across North America for several years now. Most recently, traffic signal connectivity was the #1 five-year goal of respondents. While 48% of intersections were reported to be connected,  respondents had a desired connectivity level of 81%.

Want to see the full results of the study?
Check out our infographic that summarizes the key findings.


It’s clear that cities care about traffic signal connectivity. But why? What are the forces driving this need, and what are the benefits?

Why You Should Care

Your city is demanding smart traffic signals, and your operating budget is demanding cost saving and efficiencies. Urban populations are growing, infrastructure is aging, and you are being asked to do more with less. To keep up with the demands of modern urban populations, cities need to integrate new solutions into old ways of doing things.

Traffic signals can’t deliver the valuable data they collect if they aren’t connected to the Internet as part of a network. Signal connectivity enables cities to acquire the data needed to make better operational decisions, maintain the signal network remotely, and ensure traffic and goods are moving.

Here are four ways remote connectivity helps cities, citizens and traffic engineers:

Reason #1: Minimizes Downtime

According to the 2012 National Traffic Signal Report Card, delays at traffic signals contribute to an estimated 5 to 10 percent of all traffic delay, or 295 million vehicle-hours of delay annually. Connected traffic signals help reduce traffic congestion and delays by communicating problems when they arise, so issues can be dealt with before they escalate.

Reason #2: Reduces Maintenance Costs

Connected traffic signals simplify signal retiming and automate monitoring of equipment failure so maintenance resources can work smarter. USDOT ITS for Traffic Signal Control notes that communications networks allow almost instantaneous notification of traffic signal equipment failure, without which some failures may go unnoticed for months.

Reason #3: Provides Traffic Insights

What gets measured, gets done. Real-time traffic system data allows for evaluation of traffic flow and performance, enabling immediate signal timing adjustments, long-term planning strategies and communication of route planning information to the traveling public.

Reason #4: Improves the Citizen Experience

Perhaps the biggest driving force is the fact that connectivity improves the citizen experience. Citizens like nothing better than a smooth drive with proper, uninterrupted and predictable flow from their starting point to their destination. According the 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard, the average urban commuter spent an extra 42 hours of travel time on roads than if the travel was done in low-volume conditions and used 19 extra gallons of fuel, which amounted to an average cost of $960 per commuter.

The benefits of connected traffic lights provides motorists with recognizable improvements in travel time, lower vehicle operating costs, and reduced vehicle emissions. This translates into less stress for citizens (an actual measure in the 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard).

Dave Bullock is a serial entrepreneur who has built successful companies in the mobile, gaming, and telecommunications industries.  He joined Miovision in 2015 and spearheads Miovision’s Intelligent Transportation efforts.

Learn More About Connecting Traffic Signals

If these benefits sound like big enough reasons to explore traffic signal connectivity, learn more about Miovision’s Spectrum. It’s the fastest, easiest and least expensive way to connect and understand your traffic signals.

5 replies
  1. Kairi Gainsborough
    Kairi Gainsborough says:

    I think it is a great idea to try and connect all the traffic signals to the internet. No one likes traffic, and I’m sure all the idling cars aren’t good for the air quality either. On top of that, I had no idea how much money is wasted due to the extra time they spend on the road during high-volume conditions. If newer traffic signals could collect real-time data, maybe they could figure out a way to engineer more efficient roads.

  2. Sam Ochi
    Sam Ochi says:

    What would it take for a citizen to get traffic light signal information on his smartphone? I would like to know if I need to prepare to stop before getting to the stoplight. Is there a way? I recall that in San Francisco, in the Avenues near San Francisco State, all of the traffic signals were timed so if one went at just the right speed(..ideally the speed limit..), I didn’t have to stop for many stop lights. At least, if I can get traffic light information of streets I am traveling on, then I can get ready to stop or maintain my speed.

  3. Sam Ochi
    Sam Ochi says:

    I live in a city that recently upgraded most of their lights to LED and it frustrates me to no end when these traffic lights are set on auto and the lights sequences through — whether there are cars in the intersection or not. Especially the left turn lanes with left turn arrows. Either they have not placed sensors into the roadway to sense cars at intersections or they simply don’t work. The extra gas and time lost is ridiculous. In fact, whenever the city “upgrades” their roadway by installing traffic lights, the traffic slows and increases.

    • Brent Merswolke
      Brent Merswolke says:

      Hey Sam,
      I’d suggest you get in touch with your City Engineer. This sounds like a simple signal timing issue and something that all cities attempt to keep updated, however, changing traffic patterns are difficult to model. Our data from Scout helps to provide the ground truth needed for updating these timings.


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