Posts Tagged ‘technology’

live, work, play…and study in Markham!

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

live, work, play…and study in Markham!

The City of Markham is growing quickly, and for some time now has been considered a major employment hub, especially in the tech sectors. According to Markham’s website, of the 10,400 companies in Markham, there are more than 400 Canadian head offices located there. This includes IBM, GE Digital Energy, Honeywell, Johnson & Johnson, Honda – you get the picture. As an article in Computer Dealer News points out, York Region and especially Markham, has the highest concentration of Information, Communication and Technology [ICT] firms in Canada. Given its role as a key employment centre, it’s no surprise Markham has a large population of residents – it’s the GTA’s fourth-largest city, and York Region’s biggest municipality.

GO, all day

So naturally, there are people travelling to and from work in Markham, and they’re going to need more options for getting there. GO trains are a popular choice, so it stands to reason that GO Transit’s Stouffville Line travelling through Markham should be expanded. Last week, MTO announced increased, all-day GO train service on weekdays, starting later this month. 17 new trains trips per weekday will double the number of weekly trips on the Stouffville line from 85 to 170. GO passengers connect to Viva and the Highway 7 rapidway at Unionville Station, and YRT at Centennial, Markham and Mount Joy Stations.

York U

Last Friday, the Province of Ontario announced $127 million in funding to help build the new York University campus in Markham. The campus has been in the plans since 2015, when the Province agreed the new campus should be located in Markham. Set to open in 2021, it will host 4,400 students – both graduate and undergraduate – and partner with Seneca Collage to offer some programs. Seneca’s Markham campus is already nearby, a stone’s throw from Allstate Station on the Highway 7 rapidway.

Markham is growing – with plans and transit in place to support that growth. Having more travel and education choices is a wonderful thing no matter where you are, and we’re excited to see it happening here in Markham!

as technology advances, every little step counts

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

as technology advances, every little step counts

We are always amazed to see examples of technology that depart from the norm. Like this driverless drone “sky taxi” that will begin flying customers in Dubai, United Arab Emirates this summer. If everyone had their own personal drone it would certainly change the daily commute!

Sometimes though, it’s smaller innovations that change transportation for the better for people. Bus rapid transit that rides in dedicated bus lanes is now part of the landscape in Markham, Richmond Hill, Vaughan and Newmarket. At the end of this year in Vaughan, the Toronto-York Spadina Subway will change how many people commute.

Within a transit service there can also be improvements and innovations. YRT/Viva’s goal is to be emissions free by 2051, and their 2017 Annual Service Plan notes several pilot and trial programs underway, including:

  • Electric Bus Demonstration and Integration Trial
  • Alternative Fuel Study
  • Small bus strategy

Over time, these smaller changes can make a big difference. Just fifteen years ago, few people would have predicted that bus customers would be able to zip past congested traffic on Highway 7. And while subway extensions have been a priority for a long time, it’s pretty amazing that residents of Vaughan will soon be living so close to a subway line.

Dreaming about new innovations for the future is one thing; making it happen is definitely another. And in York Region we’ve made these changes together. The future looks bright with more innovation to come!

 

what’s in a sign?

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

What’s in a sign?

Even with the most careful planning, construction zones pretty much always result in some delays and congestion for commuters, and we know that our vivaNext rapidway projects are no exception. We are committed to doing whatever can be done to minimize the impact of construction and keep people informed.

One way of doing that is to let drivers know if there’s congestion along their route, and if so, how much of a delay they can expect. By giving real-time information, drivers can decide if they should take an alternate route.

That’s why we install variable message signs, or VMS, on the approaches to our construction zones, including along Yonge Street and on Highway 7 near the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre.

Using Bluetooth Traffic Monitoring [BTM] software, these signs show actual travel times, in real time, between specific locations. Roadside sensors collect Bluetooth data from passing cars, and the information is uploaded to a central location. The software then analyzes the data to determine current travel times, which is reflected on the signs. In addition to travel time, project managers can update other information on the signs, such as upcoming work or lane closures.

BTM is able to detect Bluetooth signals emitted from cell phones, tablets and other Bluetooth or Wi-Fi devices on-board, and convert this into accurate information, simply and inexpensively. Not all vehicles carry devices with Bluetooth turned on, but there is a high enough proportion of devices to provide effective information.

Cars emitting Bluetooth signals are randomly chosen as they pass into the defined area.  Multiple sensors placed along the route detect the unique identifier of each Bluetooth signal and track it as it travels through the area. In this way, the system measures in real time how quickly cars are moving, and reports actual travel times. The software has built-in algorithms to make sure it only tracks vehicles while ignoring Bluetooth signals emitted from pedestrians or other stray sources. The information is constantly uploaded to the VMS, telling drivers exactly what’s happening on the route ahead.

The technology to use Bluetooth data to analyze travel times has been around for some time.  But vivaNext was actually the first project in North America and possibly the world, to collect and convert this information for display on variable message signs.

What’s in a sign? We know that the signs on their own won’t reduce the disruptions caused by construction. But by providing drivers with accurate travel time information, they’ll know what to expect for their commute.

 

automated vehicles >> will transit drive itself?

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

automated vehicles >> will transit drive itself?

Lately there’s been a lot of news on the topic of automated vehicles. In February, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the US officially stated that an artificial intelligence system [computer] in an automated vehicle can officially be considered a driver. And in at least five global cities, there are driverless buses already on the streets. In aviation, pilots have been relying on auto-pilot for decades when landing and taking off in low visibility, and many people-mover rail systems [such as airport monorails] are automated.

Studies show that, statistically speaking, computers are safer than humans at driving. However, we know that getting from here to there is about more than arriving safely. Comfort is important of course, along with convenience and efficiency or speed. For some, a travel choice is a personal statement – to cycle or walk, to make use of transit, or to drive a certain style of car. Many vehicles already have “driver assistance systems,” with features that brake when an obstacle is detected, and alert the driver when the car in front has moved forward or when the vehicle has left its traffic lane.

So the technology is there, and it’s already being used. The question isn’t whether it will happen, it’s how it will affect how we travel. It will depend on how they’re used – if every individual uses their own automated vehicle, traffic congestion and parking issues will likely remain the same. But if we share vehicles and take transit…our cities and roads could become safer and more efficient.  Interesting topics for discussion and consideration and we continue to follow them with interest.

At vivaNext we’re for mobility – whether this means subway, bus rapid transit, or automated transit in the future, we’re thinking about how York Region’s roads can be prepared and always looking for new and innovative ideas to make improvements.