CTS: Celebrating 30 years of innovation

Minnesota’s Image of cameraPhoto: Eve Daniels quality of life depends on transportation. That was true 30 years ago, when CTS was established, and it’s true today.

CTS has been a catalyst for innovation in all facets of transportation: traffic flow and safety; pavements, bridges, and other infrastructure; planning and economic issues; the environment and energy; and more.

Much progress has been made. Practitioners have new tools and techniques to improve transportation systems, and policymakers and elected officials have objective data to inform their decisions and guide priorities.

But much work still needs to be done, and our world is changing rapidly. How will people travel in 2050, or five years from now, given new technologies? What’s needed to maintain a competitive economy? How do we meet today’s challenges and stay ahead of the curve?

There’s no Image of traffic data being collectedA traffic data collection system is deployed on high-rise rooftops overlooking a stretch of I-94 in Minneapolis. Photo: Eve Daniels crystal ball. But research can help us understand our changing world and best meet public needs.

To celebrate our first 30 years, CTS will look back at highlights of our research, education, and engagement accomplishments. We’ll show how research progresses over time to lead to new knowledge, which in turn becomes the innovation that makes transportation better.

One research focus since our earliest days is improving traffic operations. Professor Emeritus Panos Michalopoulos invented Autoscope® technology to help transportation agencies capture video images of traffic and analyze the information, enabling better traffic management. Autoscope was commercialized in 1991, and the technology has been incorporated into products sold and used worldwide.

Current traffic operations research builds on this strong foundation. For example, the U’s Minnesota Traffic Observatory, directed by John Hourdos, develops data collection tools such as the Beholder camera system. The system is deployed on high-rise rooftops overlooking a stretch of I-94 in Minneapolis—an area with the highest crash frequency in Minnesota—to help the Minnesota Department of Transportation reduce congestion and improve safety. CTS celebrating 30 years icon

This is just one of the stories we’ll relay during 2017 in Catalyst, on our blog (Conversations), and through other means—such as a new video about Autoscope and Beholder.

And as always, we’ll continue to report on the full array of new projects and activities as we keep moving forward.

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