By Matt Leonard
Atlanta has launched smart city transportation and public safety projects and has formalized a relationship with the Georgia institute of Technology to design, implement and study smart city initiatives.
On Sept. 14, the city demonstrated autonomous and semi-autonomous cars along with the North Avenue Smart Corridor Project new signaling system and high-definition cameras. The city is using Surtrac, which was developed by former Carnegie Mellon University researchers and is the brains behind Pittsburgh’s “Smart Spine” project.
The North Avenue Smart Corridor Project uses adaptive traffic signals for a safer, more efficient flow of bus and vehicular traffic in real time conditions and prioritizes fire engines and ambulances traveling along the corridor on emergency response calls, Georgia Tech officials said. Researchers will be able to study and analyze data coming from motorists, cyclists, pedestrians and transit along the corridor and determine the best ways manage congestion and promote sustainable mobility.
Debra Lam, the managing director of smart cities and inclusive innovation at Georgia Institute of Technology, said the university, which is the official research partner for the project, is in the processing of developing a mobile app to help control traffic flow during large events. The app would send users driving directions, and if a large number of users are going to the same destination, then the app will distribute the traffic across a number of different routes, with the goal of not clogging a single urban artery.
Georgia Tech has been gathering data on the city’s traffic from traffic studies and this will be used to inform the app’s decisions.
Atlanta’s public safety initiative is leveraging big data analytics technology developed by Georgia Tech, according to Lam.
Researchers are currently going through crime logs and flagging keywords that will be used to help the algorithm learn. Once in operation the algorithm will be able to find keywords in crime logs that could mean different crimes are connected, which will help the department identify trends.
Algorithms are becoming more common in police departments across the country. Chicago has shown reduced crime numbers after using predictive analytics in its operations. Others, however, are afraid that such are making decisions using biased data, which leads to biased decisions. Lam told GCN that Georgia Tech would work with the police to avoid biased decision-making.
The city has been working with the university since 2015 on smart city projects, but this month the two formally expanded the partnership. Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson said in a statement that the school is excited about its role.
“By collecting and analyzing data and traffic patterns in the area immediately adjacent to our campus, our students, faculty, and staff can partner with the City of Atlanta to create a safer and more efficient place to live, work and play, while dramatically improving the overall quality of life in our community,” Peterson said.