Portland Installs Smart Sensors on Light Poles for Safety and Efficiency

Photo by Maurício Mascaro from Pexels
Published On
Jul 6, 2018

More cities are embracing digital technology to help them make better decisions, improve efficiency and save taxpayer dollars.

In June, the City of Portland, Ore., adopted a "Priorities Framework" for its Smart City PDX initiative. The initiative is designed to address inequities and disparities in the community by using data and investing in technology-driven projects that will improve the lives of the city's inhabitants.

Also launched in June, the city's Traffic Sensor Safety Project is the first project under the Smart City PDX banner.

The Traffic Sensor Safety Project will see 200 safety sensors installed on light poles along three of Portland's deadliest streets and cost the city roughly $1 million.

At a cost of $126,000 each, the Current by GE CityIQ sensors have hardware and software that enable them to collect information about environmental conditions, parking and transportation activities. The sensors include two cameras, environmental sensors, a CPU/GPU for performing real-time analytics, a solid-state drive for local data storage, and cellular LTE hardware for data transmission.

Each sensor takes a picture of the street. Image analysis software identifies the number and speed of pedestrians, bicyclists and motor vehicles that cross each camera’s field of view. The data extracted from these pictures is then transferred to a data repository.

The technology will provide around-the-clock data to city traffic engineers who will perform analyses and make recommendations to improve street safety design.

The data gathered from the sensors will be collected in the Portland Urban Data Lake (PUDL). Part of the overall Smart City PDX initiative, the PUDL will collect, store, combine and analyze data from a variety of sources, including the Traffic Safety Sensor Pilot. The goal of the PUDL is to provide a foundation for data-driven decision making, helping the City of Portland to harness the power of data to improve city services.

About the Author

Rick Laezman

Freelance Writer

Rick Laezman is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer who has been covering renewable power for more than 10 years. He may be reached at richardlaezman@msn.com.

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