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Global cities are installing intelligent traffic lights

Remember that car-proof human that was designed a little while ago? The one that looked a bit like Jabba the Hutt had been canoodling with the Juggernaut?

Well, seeing as we haven’t evolved to that point yet, people are having to be a little bit more switched on about road safety.

Crosswalk, an app designed to give people with limited mobility more time to cross the road, is one such development. It was launched in the Dutch city of Tilburg in April, according to Springwise. The function of Crosswalk is simple – “Adapted traffic lights house a sensor that scans the pavements on both sides of the road. If it locates someone using the Crosswalk app then it automatically adjusts the time that the lights remain green.”

The app comes with four different time settings to account for differing mobility levels amongst its users. The app utilises pre-existing technology such as GPS and existing traffic light software, meaning that a full roll-out could be achieved quite easily and would not necessarily be cost-prohibitive.

In conversation with The Guardian the product manager of Dynniq, the company behind Crosswalk, Martin de Vries explained, “The essential difference is that the lights can respond to individual users, in the past someone could press a button, but we didn’t know if there was one person standing there or 10. Say there’s a class of schoolchildren needing to cross the road: we can create a category for them in the app so that the light stays green until the teacher confirms that all the children are safely across.”

The plans are to upgrade 1,250 sets of traffic lights throughout the country by the end of this year, and the project has been given full support by the government. Indeed Crosswalk is the result of a 25-year infrastructure project to improve road safety. The Guardian also reports that the project stands to save the economy €90m ($AUD 133 million) a year through “improving road safety, reducing congestion and emissions”.

The integration of technology into city planning and traffic control is something we can definitely expect to see more of in the future, with projects such as Flo in Utrecht also appearing this year, a system that uses signals to tell cyclists to adjust their speed in order to catch the next green light. 

Essentially, if you’re in the Netherlands any time soon, keep an eye out for magic traffic lights!

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