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City rolls out high-tech plan to improve safety of pedestrians and drivers alike: 'One traffic fatality is too many'

"This technology has the potential to save time, money, and lives."

"This technology has the potential to save time, money, and lives."

Photo Credit: iStock

The hustle and bustle of New York City is unmatched across the country, but the local government unveiled an innovative program that measures transportation uses in hopes of improving street safety.

New York City Department of Transportation commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez announced in April 2023 that a pilot program using advanced technology created by Viva has led to the implementation of street activity sensors at 12 locations in the city. 

The sensors "collect data and generate detailed reports that will allow planners to better understand the uses of city streets – and inform future street redesigns." They helped reduce the need for manual traffic counts, which were described as "inefficient and time-consuming" by the DOT.

"One traffic fatality is too many, and New York City DOT is exploring new and innovative ways to use technology to prevent the next tragedy from happening," Commissioner Rodriguez said. "Our street activity sensor pilot program will help us better understand how people use our streets, how those uses change over time — and what actions we can take to keep New Yorkers safe."

The street activity sensors are small enough to be mounted onto street light poles. The devices use a camera to classify and count roadway users in real time, though the footage captured only stores anonymous features, as certain video frames are deleted almost instantly to protect the privacy of travelers in the city.

The success of the pilot program will determine whether the NYC DOT will increase the use of sensors citywide. The expectation is that "sensors will be a key component for the agency in building traffic models that can more accurately forecast the number of people walking and biking along New York City streets."

"From the police department to City Hall, I have dedicated so much of my career in public service to using modern technology to make government operate more effectively and most efficiently for New Yorkers. And this street activity sensor technology will allow us to make our streets safer more quickly," New York City Mayor Eric Adams said

Adams added: "This technology has the potential to save time, money, and lives. We will be monitoring its effectiveness closely and deploying it strategically to understand how we can best maximize its impact."

The street activity sensors represent an ongoing effort to improve transportation safety in New York City. 

The city is one of many across the country that has installed protected and separated bike lanes, which led to a decrease in both deaths and injuries for all road users. With more people opting to travel by bicycle instead of by car, the amount of dirty energy that sends harmful pollutants into the atmosphere will continue to decline.

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