Moving Beyond Synchronized Traffic Lights — the City of Los Angeles Implements an Intelligent Stop Light System

Vehicular management is a huge requirement in the United States (US). Per the US Department of Transportation Statistics, in 2011 a total of approximately 248 million vehicles were registered across all States included in the US. Stop lights are an important component of most vehicular management systems. But, up to now, most stop light systems neither included sensors, nor the computing intelligence to manage them and do something with the data they can produce.

Colin Berry, a reporter for the California Report wrote an article last month, Groundbreaking System Aims to Ease L.A.’s Traffic Woes. The enhancements made to Los Angeles’ Automated Traffic Surveillance and Control System (ATSAC), noted in Mr. Berry’s article, are the first evidence we’ve located of a major vehicular management system implemented by a public entity with the required device intelligence, and Human Machine Interface (HMI) to really change how vehicles navigate densely populated areas. We think the ATSAC system will produce substantial benefits for the entire community of Los Angeles County, including:

  • Better aggregate gas consumption patterns for the vehicles traveling through Los Angeles’ new stop light control system
  • Substantially better reconnaissance capability for first responders needing to quickly identify, locate, and monitor specific vehicles as they traverse the city streets
  • Streamlined commuting patterns with likely reductions in the amount of time required to get from specific points to destination

Mr. Berry’s broad depiction of the system, which uses a loop induction method to measure and monitor changes in key traffic statistics, including vehicle volume, speed, etc., was impressive. “Based on data from the loop detectors, a proprietary algorithm developed by ATSAC determines demand on a given intersection. Then, based on time of day or scheduled events like a Lakers game or the Academy Awards, it can modify a signal’s timing in order to move traffic along.” (quoted from Mr. Berry’s article, a link to which has been provided above) This proprietary algorithm may present ISVs with an opportunity to develop firmware and systems at the application layer to complement what ATSAC has already built.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

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