Sensor installation, Portland, OR

Portland Sensor Project Tests Smart City Technologies

Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland, OR, recently joined officials from the Portland Bureau of Transportation and representatives from Intel, AT&T, Current by GE and Portland General Electric to mark the first major milestone for Smart City PDX, the City of Portland’s effort to use data and technology to improve people’s lives.

As the first project under the Smart City PDX banner, the Traffic Safety Sensor Project helped to inform the development of the city’s Priorities Framework, a structured process for evaluating new technologies, uses of information, and related partnerships to ensure they provide tangible benefits to the people of Portland.

The project includes installation of 200 Current by GE CityIQ sensors, powered by Intel IoT technology, on SE Division, 122nd and SE Hawthorne, three of Portland’s deadliest streets. The sensors will provide around-the-clock counts of vehicles and pedestrians as well as information about vehicle speeds. With this new data, city traffic engineers can improve street safety design and support Portland’s Vision Zero goal of making the streets safe for all users.

“Portland is leading the country in this important data effort,” said Mayor Ted Wheeler. “We are at the forefront of using advanced technology to make our cities safer for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers, helping people more easily get around, save time and reduce the possibility of crashes. This pilot is a significant step in acquiring and utilizing data to make critical decisions.”

In addition to improved data insights, the CityIQ open platform is designed to handle future growth using the exact same street lighting infrastructure, so Portland can continue adapting and developing new applications that meet the specific needs of the city and its residents.

The sensor project, which installed new mast arms and the sensors on street light poles on the three corridors, costs $1,012,000. It was funded with general transportation revenue, system development charges and contributions by the project’s private sector collaborators.

The data gathered from the sensors will be collected in the Portland Urban Data Lake (PUDL). Part of the overall Smart City PDX initiative, PUDL will collect, store, combine, and analyze data from a variety of sources including the Traffic Safety Sensor Pilot. The goal of PUDL is to provide a foundation for data-driven decision making, helping the City of Portland to harness the power of data to improve City services.

“Portland is a great example of how every city is able to tailor their solution to meet specific challenges and opportunities,” said Austin Ashe, Smart Cities General Manager for Current by GE. “For example, we will be working with Portland to extract bicycle data to better understand the bicycle traffic volume and cyclists’ interactions with vehicle and pedestrian traffic to improve safety for all.”

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