Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

OKC Gets Smart with Upgrade to Traffic System

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

OKC Gets Smart with Upgrade to Traffic System

Article excerpt

Rather than continue to merely replace components in the city's old traffic control system, Oklahoma City is looking at a massive upgrade expected to save millions of dollars, said Mark Meier, the city's information technology director.

A smarter computer system holds the promise of cheaper software repairs for the city's budget as well as fewer unnecessary red lights and less wasted fuel for every driver in Oklahoma City.

The technology already exists, Meier said. The problem is that the traffic control industry hasn't been motivated to develop it as fully as possible. That's where Oklahoma City is taking the initiative, he said.

"We saw some new technologies emerging that presented opportunities to be reasonably smart," Meier said. "That software, developed by the Federal Highway Administration, gave us direction.

"But as we continued to talk to various vendors, each of them also had development projects going on," he said. "... So we started talking to them about improving their product, and that we were not going to accept the ages-old, throw-it-out-there, all-it-does-is- switch-lights way of doing things. We wanted to see significant improvements for our citizens."

The Oklahoma City Council on Tuesday approved $703,000 for an initial study and the purchase of wireless, Wi-Fi equipment from RF- IP Inc. for a citywide intelligent traffic system. The Oklahoma City- based company specializes in municipal high-fidelity wireless systems, or muni Wi-Fi. RF-IP has surveyed and produced preliminary designs for more than 2,200 square miles across the country, the company said.

The city's project budget of $4 million for a Wi-Fi signal network throughout the city's 700 controlled intersections is a huge savings when compared with original plans of about $13 million to lay down wire for about 100.

The equipment currently used in Oklahoma City "is not anywhere in the realm of intelligence, to be honest with you," Meier said. Only a few major traffic corridors such as Northwest Expressway have stoplights that are synchronized to improve traffic flow. …

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