Safer and lower cost bridge inspections

So, you’re a highway inspector and you are tasked with inspecting a bridge. Roadway – OK. Structure and supports – check. But how about the top? What if you are evaluating the soaring trusses of a bridge like the Tappen Zee over the Hudson, or any bridge with structures that reach far above the lanes of traffic. For that matter, how do you see all parts of the inside of a tunnel? A retaining wall? A high mast light?

The answer for the Federal Highway Administration in recent months, has been to employ Unmanned Aerial Systems, also known as drones. During the past year, increasing numbers of state departments of transportation are considering using UASs as well, taking their cues from states like Minnesota which, since adopting UAS, has seen a 40% savings in inspection costs and improved data quality. The drones are able to “see’ and deliver data from difficult-to-access bridge elements such as confined spaces, high wall abutments, steep slopes and piers under traffic.

Financial and safety improvements are also noted by UAS users, who observe how UAS can collect data without having to raise or lower inspectors to various parts of bridges and structures using traditional methods like under-bridge inspection vehicles, ladders, lifts and ropes. UAS also results in less large equipment use, which in turn means reductions in not only road and lane closures, but also in overall inspection time and costs.
DOTs are additionally able to collect infrared and 3D modeling bridge and topographic mapping details, and can identify concrete delamination using this wave-of-the-future structural inspection tool.

CV data partnership equals enhanced accuracy in TrafficCast data

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TrafficCast’s real travel-time information is set to be more accurate than ever, with the addition of real-time data from Wejo, a UK technology company which provides connected vehicle (CV) data. Upon announcing the partnership, Wejo CEO Richard Barlow commented, “Our value-added insights will enhance and improve TrafficCast’s product offerings and ultimately contribute to reduced congestion on America’s roads, shortened journey times, and provide car owners with a materially better driving experience.”

TrafficCast CEO Al McGowan added, “We are happy to announce our partnership with Wejo, and welcome the addition of their unique content to our industry-leading traffic information ecosystem. Wejo’s data exchange platform is a critical next step in the evolution of the connected vehicle, and our clients and end users will benefit from the insights their data provides.”

With the agreement, TrafficCast will receive Wejo’s anonymized traffic flow updates, including traveling speeds, from some seven million vehicles driving in real time. The partners consider this a major breakthrough in live data sourcing from the road, one that will provide users such as Departments of Transportation and everyday commuters, improved quality and accuracy in the traffic data that helps them navigate their world.

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Trafficcast International administrators attended two important technology and mobility conferences in different regions recently. The ITS America 28th Annual meeting was held in Washington DC in early June and explored topics such as how Intellifent Mobility can make our communities safer and smarter for pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, and vehicles, and how to work safety and efficiency into the goal of delivering goods and services.

In Detroit, TU (Telematics Update) Automotive Detroit brought together leaders from automotive, mobility and technology industries exploring topics such as monetizing vehicle connectivity and what carsharing and scootersharing looks like in other markets across the globe.

I-29 Open, Again

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After nearly three weeks this second time, I-29 running from St. Joseph’s, Missouri through Iowa to US-34 in Pacific Junction is open as of June 17.

The corridor, running along the Missouri River, was closed since May 29 after heavy storms dumped record amounts of rainfall across the region. Other roads in the area remain closed due to flooding and damage caused by the high waters.

This 150-mile stretch of Interstate 29 was shuttered for the first time in March because of historic flooding. That previous closure lasted longer than 2 months.

Presently, MoDOT says loads over 12-feet-wide still need to use alternate routes.

Naples, FL to add BlueToad Travel Tracker

Naples, Florida has been awarded a grant that allows the city to purchaseTrafficCast’s BlueToad travel time system equipment. The $129,000 grant provides for the city’s Traffic Management Center to acquire 25 BlueToad traffic controllers, two new servers and the accompanying software.

BlueToad is an operating system which tracks the speed and volume of traffic flow in an area – the city of Naples, for example – by picking up Bluetooth signals, in a non-invasive fashion, from moving vehicles. The information goes to the BlueToad operating system to show traffic flow and patterns, allowing traffic managers to quickly spot, and deal with, problem areas.

E-scooters return to Portland streets TODAY

Starting today, Portland, Oregon drivers are sharing roadways with E-Scooters.

E-scooters are a somewhat controversial new mobility service. Like bike-shares available in some cities, the service provides an electric-powered scooter to rent for one-way trips. The scooters are consigned through a scooter rental app. Some companies offer a call or text unlocking service for those who don’t have smartphones. According to the model, scooters are parked on the sidewalk close to the curb and out of the way of pedestrians when the trip is finished. Some companies requre riders to confirm they’ve parked the e-scooter correctly by submitting a photo through the company’s app to end the rental.

While e-scooters have been cast as a serious menace by detractors – the e-scooters are sometimes driven on and left lying on sidewalks, littering and blocking pedestrian routes – Portlanders approved the one-year pilot program after a 120-day trial period. Proponents who argued for approval for the program cited reduced traffic congestion by reducing the number of cars on the road, fewer automobile fatalities, expanded transportation opportunities especially for underserved Portlanders, and reduced air pollution.

Portland transportation officials warn residents are expected to adhere to e-scooter rules, including mandatory helmet use, no riding on sidewalks, and no riders under 16 years of age. E-scooter riders are also required to yield to pedestrians, and ride only on roadways in parks. E-scooter drivers are allowed on Portland city streets, multi-use paths and in bike lanes. The programs extends til April 26, 2020.

Radios, Cars and Influencers

While many at the National Association of Broadcasters participants last week were focused on topics such as Esports; presentations like Beyond the Briefing Room: Tales from the White House Beat, and on new offerings like the just-introduced Influencer Series: Sports and Entertainment, TrafficCast executive Nick Kiernan was at the Las Vegas conference to see about In-Vehicle Experience, or as we’ve known it for decades – car radio.

Throw some television into the equation as well; industry experts are examining how to offer relevant car radio and video experiences into a future which includes autonomous vehicles. Surround sound? Screens on the back of front car seats? What kind of new content?

TrafficCast supplies nationwide up-to-the-minute traffic information, much of which is disseminated through automobile radios.

The National Association of Broadcasters conference is the world’s largest and most comprehensive convention encompassing the convergence of media, entertainment and technology. With more than 90,000 attendees from 160 countries and 1,600+ exhibitors, NAB Show is the ultimate marketplace for solutions that transcend traditional broadcasting and fuel the digital storytelling economy.