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By Eddie Allen Jr. on February 26, 2020
GROSSE POINTE PARK — Following the installment of a traffic technology device designed to improve safety at two local intersections, the Detroit company promoting the innovation announced the Park as its national pilot city.
NextEnergy, which specializes in measures to improve communities in areas including mobility and infrastructure, awarded a grant to the Park last year, enabling SmartCone’s activation at Kercheval and Nottingham. The second SmartCone was installed at St. Paul and Somerset in February.
Using traffic sensors that alert both pedestrians and drivers, and features that include audio and signage, the modular technology has been welcomed by city officials concerned about student safety near schools. The pending closure of Trombly Elementary School has increased concerns about traffic congestion and related issues resulting from the additional students and parents traveling around Defer Elementary and Pierce Middle schools.
SmartCone emerged as the winner of NextEnergy’s “NextChallenge: Smart Cities” competition and later was recommended to the Park by resident and former NextEnergy employee, Melissa Smith. The Detroit-based company calls the contest beneficial to the public’s use.
“Through the management of the competition and by leveraging our experience in developing and managing public, private partner- ships, our goals for NextChallenge: SmartCities are being met with SmartCone and the city of Grosse Pointe Park,” said Jim Saber, NextEnergy president and CEO.
Using real-time automation, SmartCone alerts drivers and pedestrians, including the visually impaired, to speed and other factors and can be customized to collect numbers about the density of traffic. Grosse Pointe Park’s pilot city status affords the community multiple advantages that support its ongoing efforts to improve neighborhood safety, said Tenille Houston, CEO of AutoGuardian by SmartCone, which designed the device.
“As part of this pilot, the city has traffic data insights, including the speed of vehicles and the amount of people and activations utilizing these two crosswalks,” Houston said, “while simultaneously using artificial intelligence to detect pedestrians entering a zone and automatically sending a signal to set off rapid flashing beacons, bringing immediate attention and visibility to oncoming motorists that the crosswalk is in use. Working with NextEnergy and forward-thinking cities like Grosse Pointe Park to put their citizens first and collaborate on new solutions to create safer roads for all is exciting and rewarding.”
Nick Sizeland, Park city manager, and Public Safety Director Stephen Poloni have examined travel patterns at Kercheval and Nottingham, and St. Paul and Somerset, to help identify ways in which parents delivering and retrieving children can benefit from SmartCone’s features.
“When NextEnergy approached us as a possible pilot location and we learned more about the potential of the AutoGuardian solution,” Sizeland said, “we felt that this was not only a step towards fulfilling that promise, but a chance to demonstrate the smart city technologies of the future right here.”