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New York City Launches Real-Time System to Reduce Traffic Congestion

Midtown in Motion helps city traffic engineers identify congested traffic points and readjust traffic signal patterns in real time.

In New York City, streets and traffic jams seem almost synonymous, but to reduce the city’s high traffic congestion, on Monday, July 18, officials released a new technology-based traffic management system to monitor and adjust traffic in Midtown Manhattan.

The system, called Midtown in Motion, helps city traffic engineers identify congested traffic points and readjust traffic signal patterns in real time to reduce traffic jams. The system uses 100 microwave sensors, 32 traffic video cameras and E-ZPass readers at 23 intersections to track traffic volumes, congestion and record vehicle travel times, according to a New York City press release.

Data is sent wirelessly through the New York City Wireless Network to the city’s Traffic Management Center in Long Island City where the traffic signals are adjusted remotely. The real-time information from the Midtown in Motion system will become available on mobile devices such as PDAs and smartphones.

“Midtown is the heart of the region’s economy and also its congestion,” said Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan in a statement. “Midtown in Motion brings dynamic controls for a dynamic city to help keep its transportation network and economy moving.”

Early implementation stages for Midtown in Motion began last summer and ongoing upgrades have been made to the city’s traffic signal system.

Installation costs for the system were $1.6 million. To help fund the system, $1 million came from the city and the Federal Highway Administration funded $600,000, according to the release.

New York City drafted efforts to use technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution in PlaNYC, an initiative to help build the city’s economy, deal with climate change and improve quality of life for its citizens. The initiative was launched in 2007 by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

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