Bakersfield give look at high-tech new traffic center

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - The city of Bakersfield completed a $390,000 state-of-the-art upgrade to its traffic operations center last month.

The project, which was paid for mostly through federal funding, features six 50-inch TV screens and an upgrade of software to Quick Net Pro.

Around the city are 13 pan-and-tilt cameras and about 22 miles of fiber-optic cable connecting traffic signals.

"This is an upgrade from the traffic operations center we had constructed in about '95," said civil engineer Ed Murphy.

One of the biggest benefits to the upgrade is with signal synchronization. It also alerts engineers who are monitoring the center to if there is a problem with one of the traffic signals by sounding an alarm.

"If a traffic signal is up and connected, and we have communication with it, it's green," said Murphy. "If we have a disconnect with the signal, it's red."

Murphy said that could mean either they have lost communication with it or the signal hasn't yet been connected to the TOC.

Out of 410 traffic signals in Bakersfield, about 380 of them are currently connected to the TOC, with plans to have all of them connected at some point.

In the TOC they receive a live feed of real-time traffic to help evaluate flow and spot problems. With the new technology they are able to change timing of signals from within the center and watch how traffic responds in real time.

The cameras are not set to record.

"It's purely for traffic flow. We're not trying to invade in anyone's privacy," said Murphy.

So far, engineers say the new system has been very effective in allowing them to ensure that traffic is running smoothly.