Toronto Implements Pilot for Intersection Traffic Light Syncronization

A pilot project involving new, high-tech traffic signals is currently taking place at 22 intersections across the city of Toronto, Canada. The new signals are able to respond to real-time traffic data and can communicate and automatically synchronize with other smart signals in their vicinity.

“We all know the experience of sitting at a light that is red noticing that the traffic that is going across the other way is non-existent and saying ‘Why is this light red? Why can’t it be green?’ Well this technology is going to finally allow us to have an answer to that,” Mayor John Tory said. “We won’t be sitting at a red light when there is no traffic going the other way because that signal will stay green.”

The pilot program involves testing two different technologies with smart signals manufactured by Rhythm Engineering – ‘InSync’ – installed at ten intersections and smart signals manufactured under the name SCATS will be used at twelve intersections. InSync makes decisions based on video-analysis that measures queue lengths on the approach to the intersection and then relays that data to the signal. SCATS will use radar detection to measure traffic flow on both sides of the intersection. Mayor Tory pointed out that testing the two types of technologies the city will be better able to evaluate the reduction of traffic congestion.

“It is a different way or procurement. Before you just would just put out a request for proposals and often times we would just take the bid that has the lowest price,” he said. “In this case, and it is part of the new way that I think we will be doing procurement with technology, we are taking two (forms of technology), putting them up against each other and seeing how they work. The answer could be that we end up buying both, one or neither.”