City implements monitors for pilot traffic-control program

Dan Watson A student waits on the sidewalk as traffic heads for West Ranch High School on Valencia Blvd. on the first day of school in Stevenson Ranch on Thursday. 081612

Like all technology in use, malfunctions can occur — especially under extreme temperatures. To help prevent major breakdowns with Santa Clarita’s traffic-control system, the city is testing out new environment monitors at major intersections as part of a pilot program. 

AVTECH Software, a company specializing in environment monitoring hardware and software, announced Wednesday that the city’s Traffic and Transportation Planning Division has selected its most popular environmental monitor, Room Alert, to try and improve commutes and reduce traffic congestion. 

Room Alert is a software capable of proactively monitoring environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, flood, power and smoke. Organizations across 186 countries use the system, ranging from thousands of small businesses to Amazon, Lockheed Martin, AT&T, the United Nations and multiple local governments, according to an AVTECH news release. 

Santa Clarita initially used the system for temperature monitoring of a heating, ventilation and air conditioning failure, but city traffic engineers found out they could also implement the technology to monitor nearly 200 light signal enclosures and for inoperable railroad gates that can cause traffic delays, with the goal of improving traffic flow and reducing repair or replacement costs. 

While no cost study has been conducted yet, traffic equipment replacements as a result of high heat could range between $3,000 to $5,000 and, with power loss or overheating, traffic signals could stop working and cause increased traffic congestion, according to Cesar Romo, traffic signal system administrator with the city. 

The technology costs anywhere from $200 to $500 per intersection, and it’s currently being used at 10 intersections, according to city officials. There are plans to expand that up to add 40 more intersections within about a month. 

“We have implemented this at nine intersections, and if there’s a power outage or if a railroad gate gets stuck, we will be notified,” he said. “This will help us fix the issue faster. We’re always looking at proactively doing things and finding ways to improve traffic flow in the city. This is just another example.” 

The city’s traffic team could receive notifications via automated email and text message within five minutes of system failure. Previously, notifications would be not received until up to an hour after the traffic problem started, according to the news release. 

“Room Alert monitors and sensors have already proven that they can reduce damage and downtime caused by high temperatures and unexpected power loss,” Richard Grundy, AVTECH president and COO, said in a prepared statement. “We’re confident that Room Alert will improve the city’s traffic flow and help to decrease commute times across the region.”

Should testing of Room Alert work for Santa Clarita, the goal is to implement the software at more intersections, said Romo.

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