Waterloo, Ontario

How the Region of Waterloo is Doing New With Less

With Spectrum you have streaming video and real-time alerts coming back to essentially do the fieldwork from the traffic management center, and get issues cleared more quickly.” – Mark Liddell, Region of Waterloo Traffic Analyst

The Region of Waterloo is experiencing rapid growth in population and a flurry of start-up activity. An influx of new residents, combined with infrastructure development, has led to a rise in traffic complexity. Miovision worked with the city to implement Spectrum, our smart traffic signal solution, in key corridors across the city.

Spectrum is helping the Region of Waterloo utilize data to transform their traffic network. Here are a few highlights of the impact. You can read the full case study.

Instantaneous Incident Response

The Region of Waterloo now gets immediate alerts. These alerts help identify issues with roads or infrastructure. This helps to prioritize resources and alert significant changes in traffic. They can also stream video from an intersection to verify an incident.

Traffic Counts on Demand

The Region of Waterloo utilizes turning movement counts for signal time evaluation, long-range traffic modelling, and growth projections. Before Spectrum, they counts were collected about every 3 years. Spectrum dramatically changed that. They can now generate counts on-demand at many intersections and any time.

Other Key Benefits

Spectrum also provides the Region of Waterloo with other key benefits, including:

  • Providing remote visibility of the traffic network with connected intersections
  • Accelerating the planning schedule
  • Reducing data collection costs
  • Enabling engineers to focus on high-value data analysis

To learn more about Spectrum in the Region of Waterloo, check out the full case study.

Traffic Signals: The Perfect Smart City Tool

At their most basic level, traffic signals are infrastructure assets that control vehicular and pedestrian traffic. But what if we could look at the humble traffic signal in a whole new way? What if we looked at this piece of infrastructure as the perfect foundation for a smart city? As the easiest and least expensive way to build a smart city? If you’re a transportation engineer, you have access to one of the most powerful data collection tools in your city.

Traffic signals can do much more than manage traffic flow. They can be the starting point for acquiring massive amounts of data.

#1: It’s Easy and Inexpensive to Integrate Smart Technology

Traffic signals can easily integrate smart technology. The brains that control signals are housed in one location – that traffic cabinet. An Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), like Miovision’s Spectrum, can be installed in the traffic cabinet to acquire and communicate data from each traffic device back to the Traffic Management Center (TMC). Gone are the days of needing to rip out and replace legacy traffic infrastructure or lay expensive fiber optic cables just to gain connectivity. Traffic signal data can be connected to cellular LTE communications in 20 minutes or less.

It’s not just the ease of connectivity that’s helpful. Traffic lights are elevated and provide a great view of intersections. Attaching video cameras and sensors to the light or to traffic poles allow for optimal data collection. The location and simplicity of connection make traffic signals an ideal, inexpensive and simple foundation for data collection.

#2: They’re Everywhere

There are more than 340,000 traffic signals in the North America alone. That’s about one traffic signal per 1,000 people. Because they are so ubiquitous, they provide a large number of data collection points. A city of one million people houses thousands of intersections capable of collecting millions of data points each year. Smart cities start with big data, and traffic lights deliver.

#3: Intersections Collect a Lot of Data

Intersections collect a myriad of data points, including vehicle, bike and pedestrian counts, traffic speed, intersection approach volume, congestion reports, accident surveillance, WiFi or Bluetooth MAC address identification, public transportation monitoring, and traffic signal timing to name but a few. Pooling this data in one accessible location opens the doors for unlimited analysis, evaluation, and optimization. More data provides more insights, and more opportunity to build a smarter city.

#4: Generates Immediate Impact

Integrating smart technologies into traffic signals opens the door to immediate impact. Signal timing alone can pay back at a ratio of 40:1. The ripple effect of better signal timing is significant: diminished traffic congestion, lower fuel costs, improved air quality, increased productivity and citizen satisfaction. In the longer run, traffic agency maintenance and labor costs shrink. Intersections are a perfect spot to generate returns.

Large and expensive smart city projects can be hard to justify. But integrating simple and inexpensive smart technologies at traffic intersections will show an immediate ROI. The resulting savings are available to forge ahead with a bigger smart city vision.

#5: More than Traffic

Smarter traffic signals don’t just optimize traffic. Connectivity provides the opportunity to integrate with other data points. Signals can connect to vehicles through Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) communications. In the future, smart signals and sensors will deliver data like weather, crash reports and road conditions. Think of your city as a network of arteries providing check-in points to help you navigate the city most efficiently. Once ‘smart’ traffic signals have been deployed, data integration points are only limited by the imagination.

Traffic Congestion: 180 km Traffic Jams in Sao Paulo

We previously covered traffic congestion across the United States, in Europe and in China. Residents of these areas have experienced the joy of traffic congestion that stretches many kilometers and increases their daily commute time substantially. Sao Paulo in Brazil is no exception.

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National Traffic Signal Report Card 2012 from the NTOC – Part Two

In the previous blog article, National Traffic Signal Report Card 2012 from the NTOC – Part One, we reviewed previous results of NTOC Report Cards and this year’s results including two of the five criteria that attribute to the overall grade.

This week’s blog article will focus on the importance of signal operations as well as the remaining three criteria that contributed to the NTOC Report Card.

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National Traffic Signal Report Card 2012 from the NTOC – Part One

On May 16, 2012, the National Transportation Operations Coalition (NTOC) released their 2012 National Traffic Signal Report Card. This is a national traffic signal assessment where US agencies grade themselves on 5 categories related to the management and operation of traffic signals. The overall grade was 69 or a D+ based on 241 respondents, representing approximately 39 percent of all traffic signals in the United States.


This week’s blog we’ll review the previous results of NTOC Report Cards as well as the results from this year and two of the five criteria that attribute to the overall grade.

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Miovision Introduces Traffic Data On Demand

Miovision is a leading provider of traffic data collection technology, specifically through our Scout video collection units (VCU). The Scout provides traffic engineers with the ability to easily collect traffic data by deploying these portable, non-intrusive units to record traffic movements within an intersection which are processed using our proprietary video analytics software.

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Top 3 Traffic Data Projects to Start Off Your Spring Count Season

With the days being longer and the first day of spring having arrived yesterday, traffic engineers are ramping up to begin the spring count season.  The spring is a great time to plan your traffic data collection and project objectives for the remainder of the year. Planning ahead will help provide efficiencies in traffic data collection equipment deployment, traffic study turnaround time and resource availability.

In this week’s blog, Miovision reviews the Top 3 Traffic Data Projects to Start Off Your Spring Count Season. These top three traffic data collection projects will provide resource efficiencies– the equipment can be used across these three projects. The traffic data collected is also relatable and can be used for various other projects.

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Pedestrian Safety on the Roads

With consistent population growth, many urban cities are expanding their transportation networks which not only includes vehicles but also pedestrians as well. Vehicles need to accommodate the pedestrians especially in areas that are multi-modal with public transit, bike routes, sidewalks and neighbourhoods with heavy foot traffic.

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The Importance of Signal Optimization and Signal Retiming

The US has about 300,000 traffic signals and Canada has about 50,000. Many of the signals could improve their operations simply by adjusting the timing and/or updating equipment. Signal optimization is one of the most cost effective measures that can significantly reduce congestion and help with traffic flow on arterial roads.

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Traffic Signals: NTOC Asks, “Have You Assessed Yours Lately?”

The National Transportation Operations Coalition (NTOC) recently announced that its 2011 Traffic Signal Operations Self Assessment is now available.

It has been shown time and time again that investment in traffic signal operations is one of the most cost effective means to improve transportation system operations, yet it continues to be one of the most under funded. What the NTOC has done is put together a way for those in the traffic signal timing world to come together and use their data in such a way which will be mutually beneficial to them in the future.

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