What's Happening

February 2018

If you’ve ever traveled through Cranberry Township, you’ve probably had to wait at more than one traffic signal. Cranberry Township’s unique geographical location at the junction of Interstate 79 and the PA Turnpike (PA 376) poses unique challenges in coordinated signal operations. Furthermore, the Township operates a Coordinated Signal System that relies on historically Generated Signal Timings, coupled with real time technology to manage day to day operations on the local network.  Any scheduled or unscheduled events on the limited access highways can cause havoc with operations on roads in the business district.

Jason A. Dailey, Director of Public Works in Cranberry Township saw an opportunity with the Smart Mobility Challenge to reduce havoc and maintain efficiency. Together with CMU faculty, Sean Qian, and PhD

Sean Qian

student, Weiran Yao, the Mobility Data Analytics Center (MAC) received funding from Traffic21.  This research project incorporated real time data inputs monitored from both social media and other public data sources against historical data to trigger predictions of traffic delays at least 30 minutes ahead.  These predictions could then be directed to dynamic message boards, smart phone applications, social media, and text messages to alert the public of the anticipated delay.  These predictions also alert the Cranberry Traffic Operations

Weiran Yao

Center of the incidents to allow for pro-active adjustments to the operating traffic plan on a real-time basis.

At the conclusion of the project, in a real-world demonstration, the system proved to successfully alert the Townships traffic operators of the upcoming traffic gridlock 50 minutes in advance compared to the actual reporting time, which allowed more prompt and effective traffic management.

Dailey’s feedback after working with Traffic21 faculty Sean Qian included:

“This was another great experience working with CMU through the Traffic21 program.  Our project was able to pull existing technology and crowd-sourced data, combine it with other publicly available data that is driven by a multitude of sources including vehicle reporting data and roadway sensors, and produce a recommendation on how to manage our signal system when an event is triggered.  We are very fortunate to work with Traffic21 and MAC to help us take advantage of current technology and make sense of it, in a way that industry professionals can then turn it into real world solutions.  This project built on another project we had been working on with Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission where we developed contingency plans that were preplanned and would need to be first identified manually, and then entered manually into our traffic signal system.  What Sean and his team were able to do, was to create a program that looks locally at traffic inputs, looks regionally at what is happening, identify issues far enough in advance for us to get an alert that then would recommend what signal plan would best resolve the issue that is occurring.  While we still need to manually enter the plan, this project far exceeded our expectations and is showing us just how valuable regional data access is for us.” 

Read the Full Report from Real-Time Traffic Monitoring and Prediction for Cranberry Township: https://ppms.cit.cmu.edu/media/project_files/61-Final.pdf

Inspired by Traffic21’s years of successful collaboration with the City of Pittsburgh to become a globally recognized smart city test bed, the goal of the Smart Mobility Challenge is to demonstrate how suburban and rural communities can also benefit from a similar collaboration.  This program is supported by Carnegie Mellon University’s Traffic21 Institute and its affiliated US DOT National University Transportation Center, Mobility21.

The Smart Mobility Challenge is an opportunity to connect suburban and rural communities to the technologies and resources being developed at Carnegie Mellon University.  The first Smart Mobility Challenge was held from 2017 – 2018, and included research done in collaboration with Millvale, McKees Rocks, Bethel Park, Greensburg, Mt. Lebanon, Dormont, Cranberry Township and Lawrence County.  Learn more by clicking here.

Traffic21 is currently kicking off its Second Smart Mobility Challenge.  The goal of this year’s challenge is work with these communities to use data and analytics to solve their municipality’s mobility problems.  Representatives of municipalities and public transit operators in southwestern PA are invited to request research assistance through the 2019-2020 Smart Mobility Challenge.   Learn more by clicking here.