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ITS conference highlights the future of connected cities

ITS conference in Detroit discusses ways transportation can be improved through partnerships.

3 min read




As cities, automakers and corporations work together to integrate new transportation management technology, finding the right balance between public and private investment will be critical.

Public private partnerships have produced proven results for helping cities obtain technology solutions and bringing all those constituents into a room to have conversations is part of the mission of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS).

ITS held its annual meeting in Detroit June 4-7, 2018, with more than 80 sessions incorporating public and private sector representatives. Topics for the conference included vehicle connectivity, cybersecurity, infrastructure, big data and transportation systems operations.

“The purpose of ITS is to bring people together,” ITS America President and CEO Shailen Bhatt said while introducing a keynote, according to an article in Smart & Resilient Cities.

And with more than 62% of the population living in cities that make up only 3.5% of the land in the U.S., managing traffic, congestion and transportation needs will take innovative solutions from different entities. Getting all those people in the same room will help forge relationships, share best practices, and help connect governments and private entities to move forward with implementing new technology.

One reoccurring theme of the conference was collaboration and the importance of sharing information. The way for connected vehicles to help shape the city of the future will be sharing data to enable traffic solutions, smart parking and making streets safer for all users.


New technology demos

Detroit, the host of the conference, is beginning to implement some smart traffic solutions to improve mobility through the city streets. The city has installed five networked traffic lights with connected video cameras. Video is analyzed to maximize movement by various types of vehicles and people using the intersections.

The system can respond to those using the intersection and adjust the timing. For example, lights can be extended for cyclists who need more time or they can alert drivers that there are people in the intersection.

Nearly 40% of the intersections in Detroit are now able to respond to traffic conditions. By using open-source software, the city is able to partner with many different companies, integrate with other connected infrastructure and quick to upgrade.

The city rolled out new features ahead of the ITS conference in order to demonstrate the power of connected intersections and technology partnerships, without adding new hardware.

The ITS conference also touched on how vehicles will soon be able to communicate with anything (V2X), including smart infrastructure and other cars. This will allow vehicles to transmit their speed, location and other information to infrastructure and each other, making intersections safer and helping people avoid crashes.

As we move toward the future of connected vehicles, governments will need to partner with private companies to implement new technology solutions that enable them to improve services for citizens. If the ITS conference is any indication, improving mobility in densely populated cities will depend on investment and collaboration from citizens, governments and companies.


Liz Hester is a custom content editor at SmartBrief.