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Smart Traffic Light in the Town of Tonawanda

By: Jianqi Zhou

Believe it or not, technology has penetrated every aspect of our lives. Words like Artificial Intelligent, Autonomous Vehicles, and Smart control are used and mentioned more frequently today. Technology seems to become a big hand that pushes our economic development and gently shapes our life habits.

I believe many of us have the experience of getting stuck on the way to school or work due to traffic congestion. Horning, screaming, and grumbling are all futile. Especially in the hot, toasty summer, you were like a meatloaf sitting in an oven while you are driving. The perspiration running off your back like a waterfall even with the AC. Luckily, the Town of Tonawanda has found a key to release us from this plight –Smart Traffic Cameras designed by an Ontario-based company called Miovison. Last year, the Town got $120,000 to install these smart cameras at the intersection of Brighton Rd to ease the traffic congestion. We were the first in New York State to adopt this technology on traffic management. The smart camera can collaborate with its associated software and nearby camera to manipulate the traffic lights based on detected cars and traffic patterns. The system will then develop the best response to the traffic. For example, At the same time, the real-time data and information collected by the camera and sensors will be also sent to the NITTEC and the travelers who may cross the road.

After a year, this technology may have saved a lot of time for people on the road and prevented many unnecessary accidents since its installation. However, technology is a double-edged sword. These hidden “eyes” on the road raised concern about privacy in people’s heart, like “What if the camera captures my photos and my car info, and post them online?”, “Will the traffic rule be more strictly manage?” and so on. But Tony Florio, the Miovision Director of Communications, said in the WBEN interview that "There is sometimes a concern when we go in that there might be speed cameras and red-light cameras. That's not what our technology does. There are other technologies that cities can get, not from us, to do those kind of things." Also, he mentioned that the cameras will be so high up and the resolution will not be good enough to recognize individual faces or license plates. Matthew Sutton, the Town of Tonawanda engineer came out and clarify as well, said “The technology isn't trying to gather personal data. It only cares what you are, not who you are."

How do you think about the smart traffic camera project? Have you been to Brighton Rd yet? The Town of Amherst was the second municipality hoping to get on board with this system. They already have a camera off Flint Road. Do you support the adoption of this kind of technology? Leave your comments below.

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