CARY – The Town of Cary will upgrade its traffic control system – including the ability to control traffic lights – with Internet of Things (IoT) and smart city technology in a $2 million project the town calls “first of its kind in North Carolina.”

The project will use an cellular vehicle-to-everything network (C-V2X Network).  This technology enables emergency vehicles to communicate with multiple traffic signals in the direction of travel and change the light to green or hold the light green.

“Traffic in front of the emergency vehicle is kept moving while oncoming and cross-traffic is brought safely to a halt,” the Town noted in a statement.  According to research, where similar infrastructure and technology has been deployed, first responders save as much as 10 seconds per stoplight using the technology.

The project includes adding IoT connectivity and connected vehicle applications to 205 Town of Cary traffic signals, 100 school safety beacons, and 15 pedestrian crosswalks and railroad crossings. It was funded in part  with a matched federal grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Cary selected a Georgia-based company, Applied Information, as the transportation technology developer.  Once the IoT devices are installed, residents and visitors will be able to use the TravelSafely app managed by Applied Information to automatically connect to the installed infrastructure, giving users critical information, such as whether they’re at risk of running a red light, at risk of a crash with a pedestrian or cyclist, or are approaching a school crossing during an arrival or dismissal time.

Other potential benefits are expected to be the enhanced response time of emergency vehicles and the increased efficiency of public transportation, as the vehicles may be equipped to use the infrastructure to assist in navigating an optimal route.  Traffic engineers will also be able to monitor the infrastructure from connected devices, the Town noted.

“Cary is a community that understands and appreciates how the use of technology can solve problems and improve the quality of life,” said Jerry Jensen, Town of Cary Director of Transportation and Facilities, in a statement. “We’re excited to continue our reputation as early adopters of technology, while building off our existing infrastructure to further improve citizen safety and our transportation system efficiency.”

The purpose of the project is to upgrade the Town of Cary traffic control system, improving safety, increasing responsiveness and efficiency of traffic, and yield actionable data that could inform future transportation projects, the Town said.

Cary completed a $2.9 million advanced traffic management system (ATMS) after funding for the ATMS project was approved by Cary voters as a part of the 2012 Community Investment Bonds Referendum.

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That system, according to the Town website, “encompasses 112 traffic cameras, 51 video detections, over 100 miles of fiber optic cable and 199 state-of-the-art traffic signal controllers.”  The system was constructed to allow engineers to fine tune signal timing, and react to traffic incidents more efficiently, with safety the primary goal.

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Cary has won multiple awards for its use of Internet of Things devices and for its smart cities technology integrations, including the 2018 Smart Cities Challenge, the 2020 IDC Smart Cities North American Award in the Smart Water category, and the 2020 Government Innovation Award.  The projects are grouped in the Town of Cary’s Smart & Connected Communities Program, which was launched in 2016 with the goal of using data and technology to better serve town residents.

Applied Information will be the technology provider for the newly announced project.  Temple, Inc. will also be a technology provider for the project.  ALS of North Carolina will be the prime contractor.