New York has opened its new Joint Traffic Management Center, a state-of-the-art facility that allows police officers and technicians from the city and state to track traffic patterns, respond to accidents or other complications and distribute information to the public about road conditions. Technicians at the Queens center monitor digital video feeds from about 500 cameras posted around the city. They also receive data from roadside sensors that measure vehicle speeds, so they know how fast traffic is moving. That information is used to create a color-coded digital map of the city, known as the flow map.
The city plans to put the flow map on the Internet in the next few weeks so that anyone can check traffic speeds on their computer or cellphone. Technicians at the center can also remotely control about half of the city's 12,300 traffic signals. The center was built over the last five years at a cost of $16 million, most of it paid by the federal government. Much of the information on display at the center was already available to traffic managers, but the city and state previously operated in different rooms in the Long Island City building where the center is housed. Having them in the same room, along with the police, is meant to foster greater coordination and faster responses to problems.