Smart Mobility: Laying the Groundwork for a Smarter Alexandria
Alexandria is committed to investment in transportation technologies that improve road safety and traffic management while also preparing the City to take advantage of future transportation infrastructure advancements, such as self-driving cars and real-time traffic management.
The City's Smart Mobility initiative is keeping City streets safe and running smoothly now, while also laying the groundwork for emerging technologies that will shape transportation over the next five, 10, 20 years and beyond.
Smart Mobility is the City's Intelligent Transportation System, or ITS, program. It applies information technologies to transportation infrastructure (roads, traffic signals, transit vehicles, etc.) to help us better understand how our roadway network operates and manage it more efficiently to improve mobility and safety. Many different applications fall under the umbrella of ITS, including:
- Field devices, such as traffic cameras and pavement sensors, which capture data that can be used to reduce congestion;
- Smart buses, which can "talk" to traffic signals and to make sure they never run too far behind, or ahead of schedule; and
- An advanced networks of fiber optic cable that allows regional transportation agencies to communicate faster and more efficiently to manage traffic and respond to emergencies
The City of Alexandria is hiring a Smart Mobility Program Manager! Click here learn more.
See the Smart Mobility Framework Plan! Staff has been working to develop a plan that summarizes the many programs that fall under the Smart Mobility Program and how they tie together.
For an overview of the City's Smart Mobility Program, see the Community Presentation. Staff presented an overview of the program on February 4, 2019 at the Central Alexandria Traffic Study Public Meeting.
Key goals of Alexandria's ITS program
- Improve safety
- Improve travel times and transit options
- Improve air quality
- Position Alexandria to embrace innovation use future transportation technologies
Right now, this work allows Alexandria to:
- Monitor and respond to City traffic conditions and collect data that is analyzed and used to better manage the City's transportation network
- Use Transit Signal Priority, which allows "smart buses" on area roadways stay on schedule
- Operate optimized traffic signals and quickly send data to the traffic management center, various City agencies, and regional transportation partners
- Use traffic cameras and pavement sensors to monitor road conditions
In the next five years, this work will allow Alexandria to:
- Use a Fiber Optic Communications Network that will allow City agencies (T&ES, IT, Police, Fire, Schools) to share vital traffic and road conditions in real time
- Construct an Intelligent Command Center that shares information across City functions (i.e., emergency response, snow removal operations)
- Implement Adaptive Signal Control, which allows traffic signals to adjust to actual traffic demand and flow rather than variables that are less effective predictors of traffic patterns, such as time of day
In the next 10 years, this work will allow Alexandria to:
- Use emergency vehicle preemption, so that ambulances, police cars and fire trucks can "talk" to traffic signals, giving them a clearer path when responding to emergencies
- Reduce emissions through decreases in vehicle idling and road traffic
- Offer better quality of life and less loss time due to smoother traffic flow and more efficient roadways
- Drastically reduce the frequency and severity of crashes due to better traffic management
In the next 20 years, this work will allow Alexandria to:
- Accommodate self-driving vehicles and connected vehicles
- Accommodate vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, which will help travelers find parking spaces, avoid traffic, and navigate hazardous road conditions
- Accommodate vehicle-to-vehicle communications, which will help travelers avoid crashes
Frequently Asked Questions
Traffic adaptive signal control is an important component of the ITS program. Most traffic signals operate on a time of day schedule. The morning schedule synchronizes the traffic signals to provide inbound progression and then the reverse in the evening. The signals operate solely on a time of day schedule with no regard to actual traffic demand. Under adaptive control, traffic conditions are continuously monitored and advanced algorithms modify traffic signal operations as appropriate to optimize traffic flow. Traffic adaptive control is a proactive approach to dealing with traffic congestion before it occurs.
The Alexandria ITS program is installing transit vehicle signal priority (TSP) along key transit routes. The purpose of TSP is to provide reliable transit bus operation by improving schedule adherence. In the transit world, running behind schedule is very bad but, running ahead of schedule is even worse. The goal of TSP is to keep buses running on schedule with little to no variation. Smart buses will request priority from traffic signals when running behind schedule. The signals will then try and get the bus back on schedule through extending the green light or shortening the red light. This is part of a regional effort which will allow buses to seamlessly travel between jurisdictions.