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Fredericton Innovators work to reduce idling, greenhouse gas emissions


A made-in-Fredericton idea may soon help frustrated drivers, and the planet, at the same time.

The City of Fredericton is working to be an early adopter of new technologies and cutting edge applications by giving entrepreneurs and post-secondary students a chance to solve municipal challenges.

The five day camp is hosted by the City’s Boost Fredericton Civic Innovation Lab. The event challenges competitors with a new problem every year.

“We centered this year’s event on reducing transportation greenhouse gas emissions using data and technology,” said Laurie Guthrie, City of Fredericton civic innovation strategist.

One group came up with what they call the 'SmartLights Traffic Solution.'  The idea is to reduce idling time and greenhouse gas emissions in the community by optimizing the traffic light system.

“What if we could reduce the time that you're sitting at traffic lights,” said Josh Saunders, a member of the group ‘Spaghetti Coders’ who had the winning idea.

“Have you ever come up to a light and the intersection was empty but you're still sitting there idling and greenhouse gases are being produced,” added Saunders.  

The ‘SmartLights’ idea provides a more affordable solution, than existing suppliers, using cameras, software, and real-time data to optimize the traffic light system. Its focus is to reduce idling time and greenhouse gas emissions at key intersections without having to influence a behaviour shift from the vehicle travelling public.

“It's a specialized camera that you would put at an intersection. It would take in data, it would see the cars coming in on either side,” said Saunders.

“Then based on data that's input, it would make a decision on whether to switch a light,” he added.

In the past, the city’s programs have had huge success stories such as the Hotspot app many use to pay for metered parking around parts of Canada and the United States.

“Hotspot is the city’s poster child. They were hatched out of the 2013 start up weekend that happened many years ago” said Guthrie.

The ideas from this year's camp still need to find commercial investors, but the makers of 'SmartLights' are hopeful their plans will find green-lights in big cities across Canada, and the world. Top Stories

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