Traffic signal operations are a top priority for Collier County. Not only increase well-coordinated traffic signals safety along our streets and highways, but they also improve travel efficiency by cutting down on red-light delays saving motorists’ time, fuel and reducing emission.
Drivers may have noticed some changes in the way the traffic signals function along a segment of Airport Road. In July of 2017, Collier County Traffic Operations activated an adaptive traffic control system along Airport Road from Glades Boulevard to Longboat Drive. An adaptive traffic control system, or ATCS, is designed to intelligently respond to traffic patterns and service traffic most efficiently based on demand.
The deployed ATCS – which is an adaptive system called InSync from Rhythm Engineering – uses video cameras to monitor traffic volume and incorporates artificial intelligence that uses real-time data to respond to traffic conditions. A complex system that determines the best, most-logical and most-efficient course of action for the traffic signals along this segment of Airport Road.
Interested in the technical details? Click here for a diagram explaining the system.
What does this mean for drivers?
• Traffic coordination along this segment of Airport Road
We like green lights, too, and we want drivers on Airport Road to get as many as possible to make their commutes faster and safer. InSync helps keep groups of vehicles moving along Airport Road (Glades Boulevard to Longboat Drive) with as few stops as possible. During an in-depth configuration process, Collier County Traffic Operation staff worked with Rhythm Engineering to study traffic patterns on Airport Road and built models that allow traffic to flow smoothly from one end to the other. In many instances, InSync deployments see a significant reduction in the number of stops.
• Local optimization at each intersection along this segment of Airport Road
The InSync system monitors traffic at each intersection in real time, so that side streets are served based on where the actual demand is. The system is designed to give green lights to the lanes that need them the most for only the amount of time necessary and then quickly move on to where the system sees the next-highest demand. The signals will still go red and traffic can be delayed if the vehicles are outside the green window (the platoon) or when the pedestrian demand to cross Airport Road is high, or when emergency vehicles are requesting service (preemption).
What will drivers notice that is different?
• The lights don’t cycle like they used to!
The patterns of traffic signals that use InSync may be unpredictable. With global coordination, InSync will accommodate the movements that have the highest demand for only the amount of time needed. This means the lights may turn green in an unpredictable fashion (which is different from the time-based cycle we are all used to). At times the left turning vehicles may be serviced at the beginning of the green (advanced left) and at other times at the end of the green (lagging left) and at times, if the demand is very low, they may not get serviced at all.
• Sometimes the lights change quickly!
InSync is actively monitoring the intersection in real time. If it sees only a few vehicles in a particular lane, it will not leave the light green longer than necessary to accommodate those motorists and it could delay the start of green on the conflicting movements to help move the traffic platoons.
Drivers may be used to longer green times that allow “catching” a light or moving more slowly through an intersection. However, if InSync sees that it has accommodated all the vehicles waiting in a queue, it will quickly move on to where it sees demand. While this might mean you are not always able to catch that left turn onto Airport Road, the artificial intelligence in InSync will never skip accommodating any lanes or approaches that have vehicles present. Additionally, InSync will always respect the mandated minimum times for green and the appropriate yellow/red clearance periods when lights are changing.
What happens if any of the cameras are inoperative? InSync implements a timed traffic signal plan based on a month’s worth of collected data, so traffic is still served according to the most-likely patterns and demand, giving our crews time to investigate and fix any camera issues.
We are committed to traffic signal operations and optimization, and InSync provides us with powerful traffic management solutions designed to improve your commute and cut down on frustrating stops and delays.
A significant safety benefit is that the intersections’ unpredictable operations prompt motorists to pay more attention, since InSync signals no longer operate in the familiar cycle-based fashion. Collier County Traffic Operations collects the data over time which will allow us to conduct before and after evaluations.
Since the installation in summer 2017, we are seeing a 15% to 24% improvement in travel times.
The figures below compare travel times before and after the InSync installation:
January 2017 compared to January 2018 ("In Season" traffic):
August 2016 compared to August 2017 ("Off Season" data):