Vehicle fuel economy decreases with every acceleration and deceleration episode. Within an urban context, stoplights are a chief culprit for unnecessary starts and stops. The potential to increase road network and vehicle efficiency via dynamically signaled intersections is longstanding. However, the cost is prohibitive for many cities.

Los Angeles’ dynamic signal network reveals both the potential for signal timing technology to improve efficiency and its current limitations. Started in anticipation for the 1984 Olympics, and finished in 2013, Los Angeles’ intersection network covers over 4,500 traffic signals and cost more than $400 million dollars to complete.[1] Recent studies by the City of Los Angeles found light synchronization improved travel times by 16 percent throughout the city. This remarkable performance in Los Angeles has been replicated in pilot programs throughout the country, including in the East Liberty neighborhood of Pittsburgh where wait times decreased by 40 percent, trip times decreased by 26 percent, and emissions dropped by 21 percent.[2]

Legacy networks, like in Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, depend upon expensive physical infrastructure including but not limited to road loops, cameras, and software. INRIX Signal Analytics, announced today, can provide industry-implemented performance metrics  at a fraction of the cost – all using anonymous vehicle probe data.

Considering only a fraction of the country’s 300,000+ signalized intersections are ‘smart’, the revolutionary potential of deploying the technology at scale cannot be understated.[3] Given smart intersections can decreases emissions by up to 20 percent, and that urban areas accounted for approximately two thirds of gasoline-based emissions, widespread deployment could significantly reduce transportation based emissions nationally.[4] Even a fairly conservative 5 percent reduction in emissions in urban areas would equate to 50 million metric tons or $2.5 billion. Scaling smart signal technology will not only save drivers time, money and stress, but will provide an incredible reduction in CO2 emissions at very low costs.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/02/us/to-fight-gridlock-los-angeles-synchronizes-every-red-light.html

[2] https://www.cmu.edu/piper/news/archives/2012/october/smart-signals.html

[3] https://www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/streets-sidewalks/144-public-rights-of-way-guidelines/regulatory-assessment

[4] https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/112/16/4999.full.pdf