All traffic lights in Pima County could soon be hi-tech

Smarter stop lights

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - Pima County will decide in its Feb. 19, 2019 meeting whether to spend $1.17 million to install updated data gathering equipment at all of its 103 signalized intersections.

The technology, designed by Miovision Technologies Incorporated will collect data at the intersections with a single camera which will see the intersection with a 360 degree view.

About 60 percent of the county’s intersections right now experience significant optical degradation which limits its functionality, according to a memo released by County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.

The technology will allow the county to collect data on red light times, vehicle arrivals, pedestrian counts, bicycle counts, split trends at overall corridor travel time.

It will also allow for the data to be used to develop algorithms to enhance the driver experience.

The data will be collected 24/7 by the devices on all intersections eliminating the need for workers to take the time to manually watch traffic flows on a limited number of intersections.

As it is now, trying to time lights to maximize traffic flow is a labor intensive job. The new artificial intelligence devices will allow a single individual to analyze the timing data and make the needed adjustments.

The devices can also be used to collect data from driverless vehicles, help the vehicles maneuver in traffic and sets the county up for the future of driverless cars.

For Michelle Montagnini, a traffic engineer for Pima County, it's a big step forward.

"The old system did not have any of this analysis and data coming in," she said.

Before the new system, she would have to spend hours at an intersection measuring the traffic flow, adjust the signals and then return to see if it actually worked.

Now, she will have data at her fingertips which will be collected around the clock.

It has already been installed at 30 county intersections but approval by the board of supervisors would complete it for the rest.

"I'm very excited," she said. "I'm very excited about this."

The goal is to save motorists time behind the wheel, increase fuel efficiency, cleaner air, increase the ease of traffic flow and lower the frustration level many motorists feel when lights are not well timed.

"You just get going and then you're stopping," she said. "This should be a huge improvement on that."

And it will help with some of the little things like side streets. Right now, motorists wait for what seems like hours waiting for a light change. The new system should free up the system allowing for less time waiting on side street lights.

But she adds, the system does not collect data on individual drivers that could lead to traffic tickets.

“We don’t get that kind of data,” she said. “Absolutely not.”

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