The East Valley Arterial Travel Time Map project is now live, which allows the public to get real-time travel data for much of the East Valley on AZ511.gov.
The city of Mesa, city of Tempe and town of Gilbert collaborated with the Arizona Department of Transportation and Maricopa County Department of Transportation on a federally-funded project to deploy Wi-Fi sensors around the East Valley to collect travel speed and time data to manage congestion along arterial roads. This project was recognized by the Intelligent Transportation Society of Arizona for the 2017 “Best ITS Implementation Project” Award on Sept. 28.
The project installed 130 Wi-Fi anonymous re-identification (ARID) sensors inside existing traffic signal cabinets throughout Mesa, Tempe and Gilbert. A total of 19 sensors were installed in Mesa, 71 sensors in Tempe, and 40 sensors in Gilbert. These are the first such sensors to be installed in Tempe and Gilbert; Gilbert has since installed 42 additional sensors and Mesa had previously installed 82 ARID devices across the city in 2014.
How the public can use the technology:
Feeding this traffic information into the AZ511 website allows the public access to a color-coded map of real-time travel time and congestion data. This allows drivers to identify alternative route choices to avoid congested areas. The agencies plan to integrate the data into social media platforms, including Twitter, to provide up-to-date information on traffic delays and incidents to the public.
How do the sensors work?
The ARID devices collect anonymous travel time information from vehicles passing through the sensor area using Wi-Fi technology that detects the media access control (MAC) address of smartphones or other Wi-Fi enabled devices. The MAC address of each device is anonymized so that individuals cannot be identified. The ARID device assigns each unique MAC address a location and timestamp. When that MAC address is recognized by a second ARID device, it is matched to the initial reading to determine the amount of time passed from the first observed location, which determines the vehicle travel time and average speed.
The deployment of these sensors at various intersections allows each municipality to monitor congestion on arterial roads in real time. If the sensors reveal a change in travel time, indicating a possible incident, corrective measures can be taken by agency staff to reduce congestion and modify signal timing.