Feb 14 2023

Chattanooga, TN, To Use Smart Intersection Insights to Plan EV Charging Stations

A $4.6 million grant from the Federal Highway Administration will allow for deployment of 86 new smart intersections throughout downtown.

Chattanooga, Tenn. plans to stand up 86 new smart intersections downtown between 2023 and 2024 to create the largest Internet of Things network of its kind and pave the way for electric vehicles.

Together, the “living laboratory” of intersections, equipped with light detection and ranging sensors leveraging 3D-perception software, will be able to detect, track, and predict vehicle and pedestrian movements without invading privacy.

The Chattanooga Department of Innovation Delivery and Performance previously partnered with the Center of Urban Informatics and Progress (CUIP) at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2019 on a proprietary test bed of smart intersections called the MLK Smart Corridor. Once work is completed, the city’s smart intersections will number more than 100 and improve CUIP’s mobility mapping and tracking insights.

“The level of accuracy and actionability has enabled numerous advancements in how we can make our city safer, more efficient and healthier for the people who live here,” Mina Sartipi, founding director of the smart city and urbanization research center, said in a statement. “By expanding the project footprint, we will not only position Chattanooga as a pioneer of smart city technology but also create a blueprint for other cities around the United States to leverage the transformative capabilities of 3D systems.”

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How Federal Funding Is Supporting Innovation

None of this would be possible without a $4.6 million Advanced Transportation Technologies and Innovative Mobility Deployment (ATTIMD) grant from the Federal Highway Administration. In its award, the FHWA specifically noted the city’s intent to use the resulting smart transportation management system to plan electric vehicle charging stations in busy locations and monitor their subsequent use.

The 3D-perception software further relies on machine learning with weather-filtering capabilities to analyze granular, real-time data and predict accidents and wrong-way driving, as well as to understand traffic flow and interactions. In this way, CUIP and Chattanooga hope to optimize routes to alleviate traffic congestion and reduce emissions.

ATTIMD “grants promote innovations that help expand access to transportation for communities in rural areas and cities alike, improve connectivity and prepare America’s transportation systems for the future,” acting Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack said in a separate statement. “Chattanooga’s project will use the grant to facilitate access to EV charging stations and support clean transportation.”

EXPLORE: How Jacksonville, Florida is using tech innovations to improve mass transit.

Chattanooga Aims Beyond Initial Expansion

The city could continue to scale its smart intersection network outward beyond 2024 if its success and funding continues. The FHWA previously awarded $2.6 million to the Tennessee Department of Transportation in 2020 for artificial intelligence-powered decision support tools for integrated corridor management along Interstate 24, which ends in Chattanooga.

This time around, Chattanooga’s was one of 10 intelligent transportation systems to receive grants totaling $45.2 million.

“With these grants, the Biden-Harris Administration is helping communities deliver modern transportation systems that connect people to where they want to go more affordably, efficiently and safely,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in the statement.

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