The Edmond Sun

Local News

January 14, 2010

Traffic system could benefit other city departments

EDMOND — A state-of-the-art Intelligent Transportation System proposed for the City of Edmond could be relevant to a Public Safety Center and other city departments, City Council members learned at a recent workshop.

ITS also could be useful to the Police and Fire departments, Central Communications and Emergency Management, said Kent Kacir, an engineer with Kimley-Horn and Associates. There is a trend among cities to combine a traffic management center with an emergency operations center, he said.

“A lot of departments are looking for the same information so what we’re looking at is how to cohesively tie everything together,” he said.

A 2005 needs assessment study revealed that Edmond’s downtown police station is outmoded due to its limited space and configuration. The proposed building would house the Edmond Police Department, the Central Communications Department and the Emergency Management Department.

Any decisions regarding the location, size, cost and components of the Public Safety Center will be made by the City Council.

ITS is a fiber-optic, wireless or hybrid communication system of monitoring road events and equipment in the field, archiving data and predicting traffic volume, Kacir explained. ITS would help manage special event traffic in the city to improve public safety, he added.

“There is an efficiency to be derived at some point in time of having a fiber network,” said Charles Lamb, city councilman.

Traffic signal optimization would save the public $17 in fuel and time for every $1 spent on ITS.

The $7 million to $9 million ITS project involves the design, construction and implementation of an advanced transportation management system for the city.

Kacir said ITS also would allow the City of Edmond to be able to utilize its staff and department costs more efficiently. Surveillance cameras would be placed at key intersections. The traffic management center would link a wide range of elements to increase the efficiency of the roadway.

An ITS traffic management center is a multi-use nucleus for information, Kacir said. Information that would be collected by the traffic department would be useful to the planning, maintenance and utility departments, Kacir said.

“We’ve got a flood detection system so we would know when a stream is out of its banks that is a hazard to the motoring public,” Kacir said.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Waner asked about the benefits beyond technology of the ITS traffic management center being connected to the Emergency Management Center.

“If you don’t have a hardened facility and you lose the building you’ve lost your greater ability to manage problems,” Waner said.

Kacir said the success of connecting departments sometimes depends on city policies and even if the department members like each other.

“A lot of times what I’ve seen is when you get various departments to come together, they start seeing the synergies,” he said. “…And they got more together than they would have done separately.”

Mayor Patrice Douglas said Edmond depends on a 22- to 25-year-old traffic management system. Steve Hofener, Kimley-Horn traffic engineering consultant, couldn’t think of another city comparable to Edmond that currently has an updated ITS.

“The City of Oklahoma City is in the process of developing a very similar type system,” Hofener said. “They’ve got their communications network completely deployed.”

He said it was deployed as part of Oklahoma City’s police and fire safety issues but a component is being converted to traffic issues.

“They plan within a year to have a system very similar to this,” he said.

Douglas was interested in learning more about how an advanced fiber-optic network could save the city money. Wireless technology could be advantageous in reading utility meters, Kacir said. Edmond Electric and the water department are interested in ways of reading meters remotely, said Tom Minnick, traffic planner.

“There is an opportunity for other departments,” Minnick said.

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