Infrastructure Matters: Taking Technology to the Streets

Tuesday, May 17, 2016 12:00 pm EDT

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Marcus Welz, President , Siemens Intelligent Traffic Systems

By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population is expected to live in cities.  With current U.S. infrastructure earning a D+ grade by The American Society of Civil Engineers, the country can’t expect to sustain economic success and a growing population without acknowledging the impact it has on competitiveness and quality of life. The answer is building infrastructure that is smarter. Intelligent technologies not only improve systems, but make them more intuitive, safer, cleaner, and more efficient. All of which supports high-tech jobs in engineering and manufacturing, and provides cities with an opportunity achieve cost savings. Siemens has developed new, intelligent technology and software across energy, buildings, transportation and industry that improves and modernizes U.S. infrastructure to ensure the economic success and longevity of cities across America.To learn more and for expert insights, sign up for our blog and follow @SiemensUSA.

Today, we’re facing a lot of challenges as a country when it comes to transportation. The average urban commuter is stuck in traffic an estimated 38 hours every year which equates to 5.5 billion hours in lost productivity. And we waste 1.9 billion gallons of fuel per year in the U.S. Simply put, our nation’s current infrastructure is unable to effectively mitigate this growing congestion. But, we believe that technology is the answer. Both intelligent hardware and software are key to addressing the challenges our transportation infrastructure faces. 

We’re working with cities across the U.S. to put these intelligent technologies to use. Today in Austin, Siemens and our partners are demonstrating Connected Vehicle technology in a real-world setting. Our vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology will communicate with systems on-board electric cabs that will travel a half-mile corridor. The technology helps drivers navigate stationary vehicles, construction zones, and pedestrians which leads to safer travel.  We’re also working with Tampa, Florida on a U.S. Department of Transportation Connected Vehicle pilot that will help reduce congestion during peak travel times, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and increase safety.

The work we’ve been doing has helped us see first-hand the impact, both in safety and even on bottom lines that Connected Vehicle technologies can have. We’ve been partnering with the City of Ann Arbor, Michigan and the US DOT since 2007 to test V2X technologies throughout the city. We found that for corridors with traditional technology, the average cost to equip, maintain and investigate accidents was around $48,000 per intersection per year, with US$30,000 of that cost going toward the cost associated with traffic accidents at the intersection. For Connected Vehicle corridors, the cost is calculated to be much less, only near $11,000 per intersection.

In addition to Connected Vehicles, cities are putting software to use to mitigate congestion by using real-time data. We’re excited to announce our work in Seattle, where we’ll be installing “Concert”, an intelligent traffic management system that that connects both Siemens and third-party systems across the city including traffic control centers, intersection controllers, and parking guidance systems. The software will link these traffic planning and control systems so Seattle can take better advantage of its existing road infrastructure, lessen the impact of major traffic incidents, better manage traffic around large events such as football games and reduce overall congestion.

It’s essential as we look to improve the nation’s transportation infrastructure that we not only focus on the road itself, but how the road can become smarter. Technology is changing the way cities handle congestion by making the travel experience as efficient, and enjoyable, as possible.