All Aboard This Smart City

Lima, Ohio, is cut North, South, East, and West by busy railroads which stop vehicular and pedestrian traffic at 40 locations. The shipping and freight business is an asset for the economic base; however, the train crossings cause severe traffic delays and congestion. With no way to alert cars and trucks, pedestrians, cyclists, or emergency vehicles of train activity, hour-long traffic delays across major corridors impact Lima’s quality-of-life. The opportunity to upgrade existing infrastructure with new technology promises a cost-efficient method to optimize traffic flow. Insights into railway activity will make it possible to offer alternative routes when trains create inevitable delays.

Ohio Northern University (School of Engineering), DriveOhio, Spectrum, and US Ignite have partnered to support a project that promises to address Lima’s local leaders’ top concerns. The transportation pilot will use sensor devices, analytics, and software to anticipate, measure, monitor, and predict train traffic. Understanding how this data relates to vehicle traffic at any given time can help make crossing railroads safer. Live interactive maps will share data with smartphones and other devices to advise drivers about train schedules and wait times at crossings. If the pilot proves successful, Lima’s smart transportation model may someday serve communities all across the nation. 

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