In The Media

How Data and Sensors Are Driving Smarter Streets

Technology Changes the Design and Management of Transportation Systems

The streets we drive on are becoming smarter.

Communication, automation and data are transforming the way our vehicles interact with the infrastructure we rely on. These connections improve traffic flow, optimize transit, create safer streets and will pave the way for automated vehicles.

On the front line of this technology revolution are our experts Ben Pierce and Matt Volz. Pierce, our transportation technology program lead, and Volz, a senior transportation project manager, were interviewed recently about smart streets for Civil Engineering magazine, the publication of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

“Technology has a way of changing things, and changing things rapidly,” Pierce said.


The two discussed how technology is transforming the way we travel and the way the industry builds and manages transportation systems. Sensors that track vehicle and road conditions are becoming more widely adopted, including in-ground sensors, side-fire radar, elevated cameras or more. Communication and use of that information is key to the use of smart technologies.

“It’s all about getting data to the user so they can make an informed decision,” Volz said, whether that user is a pedestrian, a driver or a traffic management professional in a control center.

Vehicle-to-infrastructure, vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-everything systems will continue to expand and become increasingly automated, Pierce said. For example, a public bus approaching a traffic light may communicate electronically with it to ensure it stays green long enough for the bus to pass through the intersection. Or a walk signal at an intersection could be extended when a bus has just stopped and let off passengers.

“Our whole industry is shifting,” Pierce said, and automated systems such as these “will continue to change the nature of what sensors we deploy.”

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