The City of Chula Vista is currently in the process of preparing its first Telecommunications Master Plan. This new Master Plan will build on the City’s 2017 Traffic Signal Communications Master Plan and inform staff on ways to improve traffic management and operations through modern telecommunications strategies. A key component of any traffic signal is the emergency vehicle preemption system which, when triggered, provides first responders with a green signal as they approach a signalized intersection to help facilitate and expedite their movement through the City en route to the scene of an incident. Note that the City has outfitted some of its signalized intersections with GTT’s Opticom GPS-enabled preemption systems. However, the current emergency vehicle traffic signal preemption system primarily uses strobe-based (Infrared – IR) technology. The use of IR technology poses a significant limitation for emergency response vehicles to be detected effectively by a traffic signal since the system is easily affected by curves, hills, dust, and other factors. Fast moving fire trucks and other emergency vehicles approaching and entering busy intersections carry the risk of accidents, injuries, and even fatalities if the traffic signal does not pre-empt effectively and efficiently. All risks aside, inadequate or slow pre-emption of signalized intersections can cause significant delays for emergency vehicles' arrival to the scene where saving time means saving lives.
City of Chula Vista is envisioning improvements to the current traffic signal preemption system by integrating GPS-based tracking. With one of the worst fire response time in the state, Chula Vista’s deployment of a citywide GPS-enabled emergency fire response system at all signalized intersections will make a significant impact and provide better and faster service to our citizens at the times when they are in need of immediate/critical assistance. This outcome is to be achieved by an integrated software solution which will establish a preferred route for the emergency response vehicle and communicate with the affected traffic signals throughout the route based on estimated vehicle arrival time to each traffic signal location. This software application essentially takes control of the traffic signal and smoothly switches (eliminating abrupt traffic signal light changes) the signal accordingly to create a “green wave” for traffic to move out of the way in advance of the arriving Fire, ambulance, or Police vehicle(s) allowing these first responders to traverse these intersections much more efficiently and safely. In addition, the City is seeking a GPS-enabled emergency vehicle preemption system that can easily be reprogrammed to also provide transit signal priority and freight priority thereby providing multiple benefits to the City and the rest of the region.
Replacing current strobe (IR)-based system with a GPS-based system will result in following:
- 15% to 25% reduction in response times
- Increase in survival rates for patients, especially cardiac patients
- Reduced risk of collisions and fatalities at signalized intersections
- Reduced City/agency liability
- Cost savings on fire insurance premiums
These improvements would significantly improve the public safety and the efficiency of emergency services throughout the City.