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UDOT creates online dashboard monitoring Summit County traffic in real time

Courtesy of UDOT
Utah Department of Transportation

If you’re reading this while stuck in traffic, eyes on the road. But if it's future traffic that's got you worried, UDOT has a new tool that could help.

The Utah Department of Transportation created a website this week that aggregates travel times, traffic cameras and other data for drivers in - or headed toward - Summit County.

The website’s dashboard shows a map of traffic and a table detailing delays. The map spans Interstate 80 from Salt Lake City to U.S. Route 40, then over to Heber City.

FULL INTERVIEW: UDOT explains new traffic tool

UDOT GIS Administrator Kaitlin Marousis is excited because the state hasn’t been able to provide data like this before.

“In the past, UDOT’s been the only one that can use this data,” she said. “It's expensive. We have contracts every year with the providers, and what we just renegotiated this fall was the ability, in our purchase agreement, to be able to share this with all public Utah entities.”

The dashboard provides more resources than just traffic data. It’s got live feeds from traffic cameras, road signs and weather forecasts.

On snowy days, the map will track the position of snow plows.

And in cases where traffic is really bad, the map shows park-and-ride locations where travelers can hop on regional transit. The dashboard links to the websites for Park City Transit and High Valley Transit, which, as always, are free.

The dashboard updates every 10 to 20 minutes. But it will not update between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Marousis says their servers might blow a gasket otherwise.

“So that's why we kind of try to limit it to those peak-use times during the day,” Marousis said. “And then there is a little bit of a delay because of how we need to pull the data in and then push it back out to this public-facing dashboard.”

But how does the map actually work? Marousis says it uses “probe data.” Those include anonymous GPS signals from cell phones or on-board navigation systems which track how long an individual car takes to travel from one location to another.

UDOT compares the data to baseline freeflow times - that’s when there’s no traffic at all. The comparison calculates any delay along a given route. Marousis says the final product is pretty intuitive.

“The public is pretty map- and data-literate these days; smartphones have made that accessible,” she said. “So it's fun—we do live in the era of big data—to be able to turn that into useful actionable tools for folks is one of the more fun things we get to work on.”

The dashboard’s address is summitcounty.udot.utah.gov, and there’s a similar dashboard for the Cottonwood Canyons.

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