‘Sky Eyes’ to give Portland real-time road data

Find out how the Rose City is becoming a ‘Smart City’ – and how that will improve transportation, especially in outer East Portland …

Traffic Safety Sensor Project equipment, like this, are going up now on utility poles throughout outer East Portland.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

At Clinton Park, near SE 55th Avenue at Division Street, officials from the City of Portland, and its technology partners, held a “Smart City PDX Traffic Safety Sensor Project Celebration” on Monday morning, June 18.

In addition to the speeches, a newly-installed street light-mounted sensor demonstrated how it was able to provide remote, real-time information about how people are using streets – including where they typically walk, bike, and drive – and just how they’re driving.

City of Portland Bureau of Planning & Sustainability Open Data Coordinator Hector Dominguez holds a laptop computer to demonstrate the sensor system display in “real time”.

Portland Bureau of Transportation Public Information Officer Dylan Rivera serves as master of ceremonies at the “Smart City PDX Traffic Safety Sensor Project Celebration” in Southeast Portland.

The sensor on the utility pole near Clinton Park is just one of the units going up in inner Southeast Portland on SE Division between 11th Avenue and 122nd Avenue, remarked Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) Public Information Officer Dylan Rivera, who served as the media event’s Master of Ceremonies.

In outer East Portland, sensors will monitor and report traffic along SE 122nd between East Burnside and SE Duke Street, Rivera said.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler says he’s enthusiastic about the “Smart City PDX Traffic Safety Sensor Project” – and about projects that follow.

“I could not be more excited about this, today!” began Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler in his prepared remarks. “Everywhere you look, technology is rapidly changing the ways that we live, the way we work, and the ways that we get around our city.

Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Leah Treat says the project will help her Bureau gather more accurate data.

“These new Safety Sensors allows us to harness the power of the technology and advanced data, so we can use it to make our transportation system safer for all users,” commented PBOT Director Leah Treat. “When it comes to designing safe streets, knowledge is part of how we do that: First, we need to know how people use streets, whether they are walking, driving, taking transit, rolling, or whatever.”

Then, as the celebration progressed, one by one technology industry partners stepped up to congratulate the city for taking on the “Smart City PDX Traffic Safety Sensor Project”, and discussed it from their own point of view.

“As a leader in ‘IoT’ and ‘Smart Cities’, we know the transformational benefit that technology can have on cities,” says Michael Zeto, VP of IoT at AT&T, and General Manager of Smart Cities.

Austin Ashe, Smart Cities General Manager for “Current by GE” says the new Portland sensors are “like a smart phone, sitting on a pole, providing reliable 24-7 traffic counts to city planners, while collecting terabytes of data for the “Portland Open Data Lake”.

Steps to better planning, says Sameer Sharma Global GM of Smart Cities IOT Solutions, are: 1. Identifying citizen pain points; 2. Providing leadership and vision to lay out a strategy to make real the correct partnerships; and 3. Making sure everything can evolve over time to become better.

Larry Bekkedahl, PGE’s Vice President of Transmission and Distribution, comments, “By partnering and innovating together, we can create a more purposeful, informed, and sustainable way of living.

After Garrett Fristoe Miller, Chief Digital Officer at “Current, powered by GE”, presented to Mayor Wheeler a 3-D, digitally-printed lamp post – complete with sensor – to mark the start of the project, the group enjoyed specially decorated cookies and light refreshments.

Presentation by Garrett Fristoe Miller, Chief Digital Officer at “Current, powered by GE” of a memento to Mayor Wheeler.

Looking for clarity, East Portland News asked Mayor Wheeler to break down the dense techno-speak. “Is ‘gobbledygook’ the word you’re looking for?” Wheeler smiled. “In the past, we’ve often had to work without benefit of having all the data we like to have to make the best decisions. And, with limited financial resources, and we need to use the best resources to get the best ‘bang for the buck’.

These especially decorated cookies are part of the “Smart City PDX Traffic Safety Sensor Project Celebration”.

“We’re starting with the traffic monitoring sensors supporting our ‘Vision Zero’ program so, by having precise traffic information, we’ll be able to tailor solutions in ‘High Crash Corridors to invest dollars based on what data shows is actually happening in that area,” explained Wheeler. “The next step might be remotely-monitoring air quality issues. Eventually, we’ll be able to determine, on a very local level, any remediation that is needed. We may, for example, deploy lower-carbon-emission busses in that area.”

  • To Learn more about the Traffic Safety Sensor Project, see their webpage: CLICK HERE.
  • And, for more information about Smart City PDX, see their official website: CLICK HERE.

© 2018 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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