How smart transportation systems reduce emergency response times, saves lives

Wed, 2013-09-04 06:00 -- Liz Enbysk

We hear a lot about how smart transportation systems can ease traffic congestion and make for easier commutes. But what about saving lives? Researchers in Spain have simulated how intelligent transportation systems (ITS) infrastructure software can dramatically reduce emergency vehicle response times. If you needed another talking point for tackling your city's traffic snarls, here's a story to tell.


ITS solution reduces emergency response timesSpanish researchers say cities could get ambulances to accident scenes much faster by rerouting traffic using ITS  -- or what we often refer to as smart transportation systems. How much faster? According to a report on the New Scientist website, the researchers determined that ITS together with their software could reduce emergency response arrival times by an average of 48%. But that's not all.

The system reroutes traffic to make way for emergency vehicles. The University of Zaragoza researchers say the system would actually result in a 14% improvement in travel times for the rerouted traffic.

Using signals from Wi-Fi routers mounted along roadways to keep track of vehicles and their location is the simple explanation of how the system would work. Traffic-light phasing is another key piece. The researchers used mapping data from New York City, San Francisco and Rome to see how ITS infrastructure software could be set up. Then they analyzed what happened to traffic flow when an accident created blockages and developed a variety of software routines to see how to get emergency vehicles to the scene fastest.

According to the New Scientist article, the researchers determined a genetic algorithm was their best solution for finding the most efficient route for emergency vehicles and to reroute other traffic so it wouldn't interfere.

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