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Valley cities helping connect cars and stoplights

Posted at 7:02 PM, Dec 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-06 00:04:54-05

It's a driver's dream -- hitting every green light along your commute. Two Valley cities are now providing stoplight status data to technology companies and automakers that could help make that dream a reality. 

"This is going to be the foundation for additional systems that will go into automated and piloted driving," said Kiel Ova, Chief Marketing Officer for Traffic Technology Services.

The company compiles traffic signal data for around 80 agencies -- in 15 metropolitan areas -- across the U.S. for automaker Audi. The data is already being used in a feature of newer-model "Q" and "A" series cars, allowing drivers to see a second-by-second countdown until a stoplight turns from red to green. 

"The next [feature] that will be released is a speed recommendation to avoid stopping," Ova said. "You're going to get additional information which will be 'go to 30 miles an hour' if the posted speed limit's 45 ... that way you're going to ensure that you get closer to the 'green band' when you arrive [to the intersection]."

This year, Phoenix and Mesa started providing the necessary data for the Audi feature to work. 

"It's really exciting to see where the technology is going," said Tricia Boyer, Mesa's Intelligent Transportation Systems Engineer. 

Boyer said rather than install outside equipment in Mesa's transportation management center; the city opted to create an "open data portal" that vendors can register to access. It provides real-time status data on the city's 466 traffic signals.

"The last five years or so, we've really made a push to make that data available to the public," she said. 

Ova said there are approximately 3,000 traffic signals in the Phoenix-area that could work with the system but the company needs access from individual agencies. 

"Tempe, Scottsdale, and Chandler will probably be the next cities in the Valley that will implement this type of technology," he said, adding he also expects more automakers to roll out similar features using stoplight data in their vehicles over the next year.