For over 25 years, the EMTRAC system has been used throughout North America to help first-response and transit vehicles get to their destination both quickly and safely.
EMTRAC staff members have extensive experience in traffic and transit management. They've worked in the industry for many years, and they've helped implement the system in both large and small municipalities.
The EMTRAC system is the most advanced priority management system available—but it's also the easiest system to install and maintain. The most important endorsement of the EMTRAC system is found in the positive comments from agencies using the system. We encourage you to contact EMTRAC customers to hear these comments for yourself.
1201 W. Randolph St.
McLeansboro, IL 62859
PO Box 2421
Mt. Vernon, IL 62864
8409 Evening Star Dr.
Rowlett, TX 75089
Office: (214) 607-0100
Fax: (214) 607-0105
7975 Stone Creek Drive, suite 30
Chanhassen, MN 55317
Jon Meusch, PE
1 Morgan Way
Cape Neddick, ME 03902
197 Airport Blvd.
Burlingame, CA 94010
2429 South Mill St.
Kansas City, KS 66103
Gustavo de la Pena
5401 N. Sam Houston Pkwy West
Houston, TX 77086
980 Quaker Highway
Uxbridge, MA 01569
12626 Wilfong Dr.
Midlothian, VA 23112
Mobile: (256) 303-4577
Office: (256) 751-1338
2-157 Harwood Ave. N., Suite 302
Ajax, ON L1Z 0B6
19765 Joyner Place
Pitt Meadows, BC V3Y 2S3
5695, rue Rideau
(Québec) G2E 5V9
Raúl Téllez Benavides
Autopista Aeropuerto No. 60o
Col. Valle Soleado
Guadalupe, NL 67114
All of the hardware and software for the EMTRAC system is designed, created, and assembled at our Illinois facility, STC, Incorporated. The STC engineering and development team works closely with EMTRAC customers and use the latest technology to support our customers as efficiently as possible. How can we help you?
1201 W. Randolph St.
McLeansboro, IL 62859
Detecting Motorcycles has been an Ongoing Issue for Traffic Agencies
October 15, 2018 – EMTRAC Systems has partnered with Columbia County Traffic Engineering to design and implement a mobile application for small vehicles (such as bicycles and motorcycles). The mobile app is known as Ride On Time Columbia County and is available for free download in the Apple and Google stores for iOS and Android.
Columbia County, which is part of the Augusta, Georgia metro area, is the first location in the United States to release this app to the public. The app is designed to enable county traffic-signal controllers to detect the presence of bicycles and motorcycles at intersections, thereby ensuring these small vehicles are granted green signals rather than being ignored by the signal-phase sequence.
According to county Public Relations Manager Cassidy Harris, detection of bicycles and motorcycles has long been a challenge for intersection signal controllers.
"Traffic engineers recognized that, hey, this light has been red for so long, but there’s a motorcyclist here." By using this app, cyclists and riders in smaller vehicles will be picked up by traffic signals and no longer sit at red lights for prolonged periods of time. Harris said, "So now, if they’re in the zone and they have the app, it’s going to talk to the signal and help to change that red to green."
As a small vehicle enters the detection zone for a given intersection, the app sends a notification to the intersection so it can serve a green light for the detected vehicle. As part of the system, the Ride on Time app will not necessarily trigger a green light for the motorist, but will ensure they are not skipped during a traffic phase. The mobile app is expected increase rider safety on the county’s roadways as they will not need to make an illegal turn while waiting on the signal to change.
Ride on Time Columbia County works at all equipped intersections throughout the county and has a thirty minute run-time before the user has to start the app again. The user’s phone will vibrate once they have entered the detection zone as long as their location services are on so that they are aware they have been recognized by the signal.
The EMTRAC Priority Management System uses precise navigation technology and secure RF communication to detect equipped transit, emergency, and municipal vehicles and to place priority or preemption requests to intersection signal-control equipment. For over 25 years. the EMTRAC system has been used throughout North America to help first-response and transit vehicles get to their destination both quickly and safely. EMTRAC staff members have extensive experience in traffic and transit management.
EMTRAC-equipped fire engine, Coquitlam, BC
April 5, 2017 – STC, Inc., manufacturer of the EMTRAC signal-priority system, has integrated the Galileo satellite navigation system with EMTRAC equipment installed in transit and emergency vehicles. Similar to the GPS navigation system maintained by the United States, Galileo is the new European navigation system and will have 24 operational satellites at full capacity. The Galileo system commenced limited initial service on December 15, 2016—and EMTRAC is the first signal-priority system capable of Galileo satellite navigation.
Signal priority systems are installed in traffic systems throughout North America, and they are referred to as either Transit Signal Priority (TSP) or Emergency Vehicle Preemption (EVP) when describing the specific method used to grant priority to equipped vehicles. With this system, equipped vehicles are able to automatically request green signals through equipped intersections, safely reducing travel time while increasing efficiency.
With this addition, the EMTRAC system simultaneously tracks Galileo system satellites along with the GPS and GLONASS constellations, increasing the overall number of satellites used to determine vehicle positions, resulting in enhanced accuracy. The EMTRAC system also utilizes dead-reckoning navigation through multiple inertial sensors, including three-axis accelerometer and gyroscope sensing to maintain accuracy in difficult urban conditions, such as urban canyons, tunnels, and multi-level highways.
EMTRAC-equipped bus in San Jose, CA (VTA)
According to STC President Brad Cross, integration of the Galileo navigation system immediately increases accuracy, and performance will continue to improve in the coming years.
"As more satellites are added to the Galileo constellation, and it becomes fully operational, we expect the EMTRAC system to be more reliable than ever in areas where sky view is obstructed," Cross said.
STC recently conducted a controlled test of the EMTRAC system—using Galileo navigation exclusively. During the test, an EMTRAC-equipped vehicle successfully interpreted detection zones and transmitted priority requests to a simulated intersection utilizing only Galileo satellites.
"We believe this to be the first test of its kind in North America," Cross said.
While high precision is not necessary for many signal-priority scenarios, Cross says there are specific situations where it is essential.
"Precision positioning is critical for applications like rail-worker safety and lane-specific signal response, and the availability of additional navigation systems improves accuracy, particularly in those areas where it's very difficult to obtain a satellite fix."
Similar technology is also used on EMTRAC transit-rail products, which alert train operators and wayside workers when there's potential for unsafe conditions.
"We need to be able to report which track a particular train or worker is on at a rail yard where there may be 10 or 15 sets of tracks, side by side," Cross said.
Cross added that all future deliveries for EMTRAC vehicle equipment will include Galileo capability, and vehicle equipment with Galileo capability will be compatible with existing EMTRAC wayside equipment, making upgrades to installed wayside equipment unnecessary.
STC has manufactured the EMTRAC system for over 25 years, and it is used by traffic, transit, and first-response agencies in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
EMTRAC Rail website: http://www.emtracrail.com
European Global Naviation Satellite Systems Agency website: https://www.gsc-europa.eu/system-status/Constellation-Information
EMTRAC System Testing by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)
February 28, 2017 – STC, Inc has been issued a U.S. patent for its EMTRAC Rail Worker Notification system, which notifies railway maintenance workers of approaching trains, as well as notifying train operators when their train is approaching wayside workers.
The EMTRAC notification system is comprised of two main components, the onboard Vehicle Computer Units and the Personal Notification Units carried by rail workers. Optional detection units may also be installed in wayside cabinets along the railway to extend communications or to enable real-time monitoring of vehicle and worker activity. The EMTRAC system also includes setup software so administrative personnel can configure the system according to specific agency requirements.
Worker alerts are delivered by a pulsed audio alarm, ultra-bright LED lights, and vibration. Rail agencies can configure these alerts based on the urgency of various situations. For example, wayside workers who are not directly adjacent to the track may receive lower-level alerts delivered only by LED display. Specific areas may also be designated silent zones where the system will not trigger alerts. This functionality is an important aspect of an effective notification system according to STC President Brad Cross.
Wayside Rail Maintenance
"Silent zones help reduce false alerts. This EMTRAC feature makes the system more user friendly because workers avoid alert fatigue, and they're also less likely to become complacent when alerts do occur."
The alert time-distances may also be customized to meet agency requirements. For example, the system may be set to alert rail workers 20 seconds before the trains estimated time of arrival at their location, giving workers time to move to a safe area and then acknowledge and silence the alert.
"Evaluations conducted by multiple light-rail agencies provided data to show that the EMTRAC Rail Worker Notification System outperforms the competition," Cross said.
Field tests of the EMTRAC system confirmed that the patented system met agency-defined requirements at the most challenging railway locations for both reliable positioning and timely alert communications. To see portions of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) field test, please watch the included video.
In addition to rail worker safety, STC, inc has provided EMTRAC signal priority systems to both transit and first-response agencies throughout North America for over 25 years.
September 14, 2016 – The EMTRAC System was initially developed in 1986 to enable first response vehicles to request priority through signalized intersections, and fire departments have used the EMTRAC system since that time to safely reduce response times. Transit agencies also use the EMTRAC system to improve schedule adherence, as well as to make use of safety features such as collision avoidance and wayside worker notifications.
At the very start, EMTRAC development engineers eschewed the methods used by legacy signal-priority products, namely optical systems that utilize pulsed flashing lights from vehicles requesting priority. Instead, the vehicle-to-intersection communication on the EMTRAC system was performed through wireless RF, a method that proved itself far more reliable and is still used today. In fact, the EMTRAC system was the first patent issued for a wireless, microprocessor-based priority system.
In the early 1990s, the ongoing development of GPS offered another way to improve the EMTRAC system, so team engineers began exploring how to best employ GPS on the existing EMTRAC system. At this point, satellite navigation still had many limitations of its own, including satellite signal strength, receiver sensitivity and processing time, selective availability, and an incomplete constellation of orbiting satellites.
The early EMTRAC GPS design was able to accommodate many of the existing limitations, but development engineers were still unsatisfied with the results. So in 2004, after successive satellite launches to replace and add to the GPS constellation, as well as improvements to receiver capabilities, the EMTRAC team released the GPS-capable system, which was subsequently tested against competing systems by traffic agencies in both the US and Canada.
As the benefits of Emergency Vehicle Preemption (EVP) were widely recognized in industry reports and recommendations, Transit Rail Priority (TSP) became a logical extension of EMTRAC system technology. This technology was not limited to buses though, as EMTRAC became an early adopter of system customization for transit rail, being utilized on both commuter rail and light rail vehicles.
Despite the positive results, EMTRAC engineers continue to look ahead to advances in technology, and they continue to develop new designs as new technologies become available, adding additional capabilities to the EMTRAC patent portfolio. Likewise, traffic, transit, and first-response agencies continue to offer their own ideas for enhancements to the EMTRAC system.
As system capabilities continue to evolve, the EMTRAC development team has also changed. The team is young and enthusiastic, and they are mindful of their ability to help improve both travel time and safety for those aboard EMTRAC-equipped vehicles. Their desire to collaborate with agencies and technological partners also remains. EMTRAC engineers keep in close contact with their counterparts at the various city and regional agencies using the system.
The distributors of the EMTRAC system also work closely with the traffic engineers and technicians, implementing enhancement suggestions and offering support when needed. These types of partnerships often require being involved in some of the most challenging agency projects, particularly those aimed at improving safety.
An example of one such initiative is improving transit-rail safety for trackside rail workers who often find themselves in the most vulnerable locations along transit lines. Trains that run quietly while at high speeds are an advantage for passenger service, but they also present a unique set of challenges for wayside rail workers.
To address these challenges, the EMTRAC team developed the Rail-Worker Notification System, which enables wayside workers, train operators, and central personnel to receive alerts when trains are approaching their position within a specified amount of time. Workers carry a small notification device, which alerts them of oncoming trains by a combination of audible, visual, and vibratory alerts—the more immediate the danger, the higher the alert level.
This patented system has been successfully tested by multiple transit rail agencies under some of the most demanding conditions, including through tunnels and depressions, high-speed sections, and high-interference pedestrian areas.
Another recent project involves improving bicycle detection, a continual challenge for traffic agencies as the number of bicyclists and bike lanes increases. To address this challenge, we released the EMTRAC Mobile-Detection App, which connects bicycle commuters with traffic networks—and enables traffic departments to achieve previously unreachable detection rates.
Improved transit and transportation grids are a key part of the future of transportation in North America, and the EMTRAC system must meet demanding operational and environmental requirements so that it achieves both the efficiency goals and safety goals of the forward-looking agencies using the system.
Please contact us for more information about the EMTRAC system and to receive detailed system specifications.
Emergency Vehicle Activating EHB and Leaving Station
August 23, 2016 - EMTRAC has a new user in the City of Kennewick, WA, and their recently installed system demostrates the compatibility of EMTRAC optical equipment with legacy optical emitters made by competitors.
The EMTRAC System was chosen to provide safe egress for emergency vehicles from a new fire station. An EMTRAC wide-angle optical sensor was positioned across the street from the doors of the station, and an EMTRAC Priority Detector was installed in a stand-alone rack in an existing traffic signal cabinet at a nearby intersection. When the Priority Detector receives a call from the sensor it initiates a high-priority preemption call to the traffic controller and also activates an Emergency Hybrid Beacon (EHB) Signal. The EHB is used to stop traffic in front of the station to allow egress of emergency vehicles.
Installed Priority Detector
ACT Traffic Solutions designed the installation and reprogrammed the traffic controller to support the EHB.
EMTRAC Bicycle Detection in Minneapolis
May 17, 2016 - Increased safety is an important part of the what the EMTRAC priority management system provides. At a basic level, a higher level of safety is achieved by detecting first-response vehicles and granting them signal priority, thus allowing them to more quickly respond to emergencies while reducing the potential for accidents from crossing vehicles.
However, the EMTRAC system is also used in many cities across North America to detect and grant signal priority to transit vehicles, which contribute to the effectiveness of transit as a whole. Transit ridership is increasing in many areas, and the EMTRAC system provides a comparatively low-cost way to increase schedule adherence.
Similarly, the use of bicycles for transportation is also increasing in many areas. To facilitate this changing nature of transportation—and to encourage active lifestyles—a number of cities are making a concerted effort to expand or improve their bicycle infrastructure.
Infrastructure improvements include dedicated and protected bike lanes, bike boxes (which allow bicyclists to get a head start at intersections), and bicycle traffic lights (which have specific symbols for directing bicycle-only traffic).
In addition to promoting an active lifestyle, these specialized infrastructures also help reduce both collisions and injuries. A 2009 review of 23 studies on bicycling injuries found that bike facilities (e.g. off-road paths, on-road marked bike lanes, and on-road bike routes) are where bicyclists are safest.
However, one continual challenge has been in detecting bicycles at intersections, making the task of bicycle-based signal phasing difficult at best.
The EMTRAC bicycle detection system enables cities to simplify the task of detecting bicycles, while also allowing them to apply the appropriate level of signal priority that is granted to bicycles (and other difficult-to-detect vehicles). The system utilizes the same intersection hardware that is used for both Emergency Vehicle Preemption (EVP) and Transit Signal Priority (TSP). The bicyclist needs only install the EMTRAC detection application on their mobile device.
One way EMTRAC bicycle detection increases safety is by making existing bicycle facilities more effective. As bicyclists are consistently detected and granted signal phasing, rather than having to wait for motorized traffic to "trip" actuated signals, their wait time (and their commute time) decreases—along with their frustration.
As a result, bicycling becomes a more effective alternative to motorized transportation.
The EMTRAC system has been used similarly by transit agencies. By using the EMTRAC system, buses and trains throughout North America are able to more effectively maintain schedule adherence. In these communities, public transit is a valuable asset, and transit ridership has increased as a result.
In regards to safety, bicyclists encounter fewer opportunities to consider "running" red signals when they're consistently detected and the corresponding signal is able to react to their presence.
A Chicago Tribune article noted that bicycle infrastructure on one corridor increased bicyclists obeying traffic signals by 161 percent. The article quotes Lee Crandell of the Active Transportation Alliance as saying "It's important to have infrastructure that speaks to people who are biking. Otherwise, they feel the roadway was not designed for them."
The EMTRAC bicycle detection system gives traffic agencies another way to do exactly that.
Intersection with Detection Zone Graphically Overlaid
November 1, 2015 - Traffic departments have become far too familiar with spending exhaustive amounts of money on equipment and untold labor hours—all with negative results for accurately detecting bicycles. The EMTRAC system now offers the solution.
Known for its accuracy and reliability detecting transit and first-response vehicles, the EMTRAC system now utilizes its patented technology for a non-intrusive Bicycle Detection System.
The EMTRAC Bicycle Detection System includes a mobile-device app to help deliver accurate detection for bicyclists. Bicycle-friendly agencies only need to incorporate the EMTRAC Priority Detector at local traffic controller cabinets. The Priority Detectors may also provide signal priority for equipped emergency vehicles (EVP) and transit vehicles (TSP).
Demonstrations of the EMTRAC Bicycle Detection System will take place in Denver (Nov. 10), Minneapolis (Nov. 12), and Cupertino, California (Nov. 19). Representatives from federal, state, and municipal agencies will be attending along with traffic engineers, consultants, and bicycle-advocacy leaders from throughout North America. If you would like additional information about the EMTRAC system, or would like to attend or host a demonstration of your own, please contact any of the following EMTRAC representatives:
EMTRAC Distributor - Northwest Signal
July 21, 2015 - EMTRAC Systems is proud to announce the appointment of NWS Traffic, a Signal Group company, as our distributor in the following US states: Idaho, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Missouri.
Signal Group is a technology-driven company focused on shaping the future of intelligent traffic systems throughout North America and beyond. Signal Group holdings include NWS Traffic, Peek Traffic, Rayolite, and Teknotraffic. We look forward to NWS Traffic representing the EMTRAC Systems GPS/RF product line, and the new optical product line, in support of Emergency Vehicle Preemption and Transit Signal Priority.
The recently approved EMTRAC patents for Transit Signal Priority utilized on bus and rail applications will enhance both EMTRAC and NWS Traffic’s position within the marketplace. EMTRAC Systems will provide technical support and training to NWS Traffic staff as they strive to serve the marketplace.
Apple Campus 2 Rendering
June 26, 2015 - The new Apple campus, under construction in Cupertino, California, will be a four-story circular building that is planned to house over 12,000 employees, with a footprint that is 80-percent landscape and only 20-percent structure. As you would expect from Apple, progressive technology and environmental concern are important aspects of this massive project, which is scheduled to complete in 2016.
As part of this construction project, intersections adjacent to the campus will be equipped with EMTRAC signal priority. EMTRAC is a key provider of signal priority in this region, providing technology for both transit and first-response agencies.
As you would expect with a new campus of this size, traffic is expected to increase after the project is complete, and the EMTRAC system will enable first responders to travel both quickly and safely on area streets.
Transit agencies also benefit from EMTRAC Transit Signal Priority, as buses and trains are able to maintain schedule adherence, while preserving headway times, sending requests for actuated signals, responding to conditional scenarios in real time, and adapting priority requests based on current traffic conditions.
The EMTRAC Booth at APTA Expo 2014 in Houston, Texas
October 16, 2014 - The EMTRAC sales staff has been on a whirlwind tour this year, attending trade shows throughout North America and visiting current and future customers from Canada to Mexico.
Our most recent trade show (APTA Expo 2014) wrapped up October 15th in Houston, Texas. This show was billed as "Public Transportation's Premiere Showcase" and featured over 800 exhibitors—including ACT Traffic Solutions, the North American distributor of EMTRAC rail products.
EMTRAC President Kris Morgan was particularly pleased with the number of attendees who were looking to upgrade their current method of signal priority and vehicle detection.
"There's always people from agencies we've never talked to before, but we were a little surprised by the amount of people who were just not happy with the equipment they have now," said Morgan. "We have the largest bus installation of signal priority equipment in North America—and it works."
The ACT Traffic Solutions and EMTRAC sales staff also reported that they spent a lot of time talking with people about the cost savings inherent with the EMTRAC system.
"We save millions of dollars on installation, on maintenance, and we're very proud of our low failure rates. If anything does go wrong, it's much easier to correct because our system is all virtual. This show offered another great chance to share the advantages of the EMTRAC system."
As a result of these conversations, Morgan also said they were able to set up a number of on-site demonstrations and pilot programs for new EMTRAC technology, such as Rail-Worker Safety and Stop-Bar Overrun.
"I've got them in my calendar, and we're really looking forward to showing our system first hand. It's one thing to talk about what we can do, it's another to show it in action."
EMTRAC Representatives with iPad Winner
July 15, 2014 - Representatives of the EMTRAC system attended the APTA 2014 Rail Conference, which took place June 15-18 in Montréal. EMTRAC personnel were joined by representatives of ACT Traffic Solutions, the North American distributor of EMTRAC rail products.
The APTA Rail Conference is an important trade show for a wide range of transit-rail companies and attracted representatives from rail equipment manufacturers, to railway transit agencies, to manufacturers of all aspects of rail-vehicle components.
The EMTRAC-ACT Traffic Solutions booth included a video display that demonstrated their cutting-edge rail-vehicle and rail-worker safety products. The videos covered EMTRAC Positive Train Control (PTC) functions, as well as the EMTRAC right-of-way rail-worker notification system.
EMTRAC representatives also held a drawing for an iPad mini. The actual drawing was held on the last day of the show, and was won by Dave Geake who attended the show on behalf of Edmonton Transit System (ETS).
March 25, 2014 - We have posted a new video describing the EMTRAC Rail-Worker Safety system, which has passed acceptance testing conducted by Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA). Click the following link to visit the EMTRAC Home page page, where you can play the video. Scroll down to the EMTRAC Videos section and play the Rail Worker Safety Video).
PNU Demo on the VTA Light Rail Line
November 4, 2013 - During the past four years, we have enhanced the EMTRAC system to increase safety for transit-rail workers, as well as passengers and pedestrians.
We've worked closely with Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), as well as Houston METRO to develop the Personal Notification Unit (PNU), which is worn by rail-maintenance workers to warn them of approaching trains.
Due to these enhancements, the EMTRAC system is in a unique position to meet rail-transit safety requirements, such as those for the California Public Utilities Commissions (CPUC Res. 09-01-020), which addresses wayside worker safety.
In addition to wayside worker safety, the EMTRAC system also includes Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) functionality, and the ability to implement near-miss reporting, collision avoidance, speed-zone monitoring, positive train control, route and schedule adherence, and wireless communication at operation centers.
The following PDF links describe tests and results regarding EMTRAC rail safety:
The following white paper describes the functionality of the EMTRAC system in more detail:
July 26, 2013 - The core function of the EMTRAC system is to help reduce response times for first responders by enabling their vehicles to automatically request priority through upcoming intersections. However, first-response agencies that use the system often find their own ways to utilize the flexibility that it offers—all in an effort to meet their own goals for improved safety and performance.
One such agency is the Stillwater Fire Department (SFD) in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The SFD response area includes a unique combination of surroundings. In addition to residential, business, and manufacturing areas, the SFD response area includes a major university (Oklahoma State University) that expands the population on an annual basis, as well as vast rural areas that are prone to brush fires throughout the summer.
Demonstrating EMTRAC EVP in Stillwater, OK
"Stillwater has used traffic control preemption devices for at least the last 20 years. On a college football weekend there is huge influx of visitors, so being able to have that little extra help in clearing controlled intersections provides huge safety dividends for our emergency responders and the public," says Chief Tom Bradley.
"Stillwater is a regional hub of commercial activity with a major university, so all of this activity creates dynamic traffic conditions." adds Chief Bradley, who has been with the Stillwater Fire Department since 1984.
In their continuing effort to ensure public safety, the Stillwater Fire Department has some key factors working in its favor:
"As the first-generation devices began to have issues including increased maintenance and reliability, we began to explore systems that could provide a greater number of options while providing a high degree of enhanced safety for our apparatus making emergency responses," Chief Bradley said. "I have been very pleased with the high degree of reliability and the increase in the confidence with our system that we now enjoy."
Stillwater FD Fighting a Brush Fire
An example of Stillwater's progressive approach was demonstrated by their desire to implement anti-collision functionality, which was provided by the Collision Avoidance feature of the EMTRAC system. This feature triggers an audio alert to notify drivers when equipped vehicles are approaching each other and there is potential for collision.
The Collision Avoidance functionality was initially developed with the idea that it would be used mainly in urban environments, where many first-response vehicles often respond to the same call. For Stillwater, however, the occurrence of brush fires present prime conditions for collisions due to lack of visibility, particularly when multiple trucks are on location. Because of these brush fires, anti-collision capability was specifically addressed in Stillwater's requirements for traffic-signal preemption.
According to Chief Bradley, "This system has capabilities beyond just responding to emergency incidents. We can collect and analyze data to ensure we are providing safe and effective delivery of emergency services to our community."
Bradley adds, "This project would never have been started much less completed without the support of our Mayor and City Council."
June 12, 2013 - At it's core, the EMTRAC system is about enabling agency vehicles to request signal priority through equipped intersections. However, EMTRAC customers throughout North America have found other ways to use EMTRAC to cut travel and response times.
For first-response applications, every second is vital, and cutting a minute or more off response time can dramatically increase the chance of survival for patients receiving critical care. While signal priority is a key feature in reducing response times, some of our customers have expanded their systems to take advantage of the full range of EMTRAC capability.
Ambulance in Front of Ambulance Bay
One example of this expanded functionality is with the use of indoor ambulance bays, which are designed to offer a secure and private environment and to protect patients and responders from the elements. Most ambulance bays include overhead doors that automatically open and close when an ambulance arrives or departs the hospital.
However, these doors also present the challenge of providing a secure environment while also allowing the ambulance to quickly enter the enclosed bay. In some cases, in-ground loops are used to open the first door. To prevent the general public from opening the door, the ambulance typically has to park in a specific narrow area for a minimum amount of time before the door will open.
One EMTRAC customer reported that this process took no less than 60 seconds to complete. Needless to say, the one-minute delay was unacceptable. Because their ambulances were already equipped with EMTRAC—to provide signal priority along the corridor to a recently completed hospital—using the system to control the ambulance-bay doors was a natural solution.
Their solution to open the doors was very much like the way they use the EMTRAC system to request green signals at intersections. When an EMTRAC-equipped ambulance enters a GPS-defined zone, it automatically transmits an RF call to a detector unit at the ambulance bay. The detector then prompts the door to open through a connection to the door control.
Illustration of Ambulance-Approach Zones
The zones to initiate the door-opening sequence start at the entrance to the hospital emergency center. Multiple overlapping zones are used to ensure coverage throughout the approach, providing time for the door to fully open before the ambulance arrives at the entrance.
Because the same customer also uses the EMTRAC Central Monitor system, they also have remote access to the detector unit inside the bay, enabling them to view real-time vehicle and door activity, and to view detailed logs (which show the date and time specific ambulances opened the door, in addition to the other information).
The agency described in this example gained the following advantages by using EMTRAC:
For more information about how the EMTRAC system can improve response times for your agency, please contact us.
Testing Long-Distance Optical Signals
March 27, 2013 - Traffic engineers from the Northern California region were able to watch demonstrations of the recently released EMTRAC optical Priority Detectors at the ITS trade show in Lodi, California on March 21st.
The Priority Detectors are installed in controller cabinets in place of phase selectors or signal processors (as they are called in optical-preemption applications). The Priority Detectors are able to receive signal-priority requests from all major brands of vehicle-mounted emitters, which flash pulsed frequencies of light toward pole-mounted detectors, which then forward the requests to the control cabinet.
At the trade show, EMTRAC Western Region Account Manager Luke Faubion, used third-party emitters (which are mounted on vehicles in the field) to show the EMTRAC system responding to optical priority requests—as well as RF requests sent by EMTRAC vehicle components.
Illustration of EMTRAC Optical-Request Signals
"The ST-9365 Priority Detector is basically a universal phase selector because it can interpret signal requests from any of the optical brands out there, and that's in addition to handling the 900 MHz requests that are sent from EMTRAC-equipped vehicles," Faubion said after the show.
This dual functionality was a particular area of interest for a lot of the traffic engineers because 80 to 90 percent of agencies with the ability to request signal priority are still using optical systems and are unable upgrade to the more advanced EMTRAC RF/GPS-based system all at once.
"Agencies can begin upgrading some of their vehicles to EMTRAC while leaving the optical system in other vehicles. Their upgraded vehicles can then request priority earlier—and more reliably—and they don't lose any functionality in the vehicles that still have optical equipment," Faubion added.
Optical/RF Priority Detector (top)
2 and 4-Channel Units (bottom)
In addition to the dual optical/RF Priority Detector, EMTRAC has also released two and four-channel optical-only Priority Detectors. As with the dual model, the optical-only units can easily be installed in directly into the input file of Type 170 control cabinets or may be provided with a Priority Detector Case for NEMA cabinets (when input-file space is not available). All optical units are capable of deciphering encoded signals.
Additionally, all units are provided with the EMTRAC Systems Manager software, which enables agency personnel to easily customize system settings, including:
For specific information about how the EMTRAC system works with optical preemption systems, please refer to the following page:
Fighting Brushfire with Limited Visibility
February 1, 2013 - The very purpose of Emergency Vehicle Preemption (EVP) is to lower response times by requesting signal priority for equipped vehicles. However, the potential for collisions involving first-response vehicles remains a concern even for agencies with basic EVP capability.
Vehicles equipped with the EMTRAC system request priority through signalized intersections by using secure radio communication with Priority Detectors installed in signal-control cabinets. Through this communication, these vehicle are able to communicate with other equipped vehicles, resulting in a efficient network of intersections and agency vehicles.
Among other features, this network enables EMTRAC-equipped vehicles to recognize immediate potential for collisions with other equipped vehicles—and to alert drivers of this threat. Driver alerts are provided by a compact, dash-mounted monitor, which:
While the collision-avoidance functionality is an optional feature, it is compatible with standard EMTRAC components—enabling agencies to upgrade their system without having to purchase new vehicle and intersection hardware.
The Stillwater Fire Department in Oklahoma uses both the EVP and collision avoidance features of the EMTRAC system, serving both the urban and rural landscapes that make up the Stillwater area. It's not just large fire vehicles that are equipped with the EMTRAC system. Brush trucks, ambulances, police, and rescue vehicles also benefit from the safety features of the EMTRAC system.
One advantage of the EMTRAC system is that it allows for installation of only those components needed for EVP, offering agencies the freedom to expand their system capability as budgets and time allow.
Another advantage of this system is that it is compatible with existing optical EVP detectors. This ability enables agencies to upgrade individual intersections to the more advanced EMTRAC RF/GPS system without losing EVP capability at intersections with legacy optical components.
Please feel free to contact us for more information about how the EMTRAC system can benefit your agency.
Columbia Co. Fire Gets New Technology
June 28, 2012 - The Columbia County Fire Department, which serves a portion of the Augusta, Georgia metropolitan area, has recently installed the EMTRAC system on many of their fire vehicles, with plans to equip patrol cars and ambulances as well. EMTRAC components have also been installed at many of the intersections along major thoroughfares to enable agency vehicles to wirelessly request signal priority through those intersections.
With the EMTRAC system, agency vehicles will be able to reduce response times, while also providing a safer environment for drivers who find themselves at these intersections while crews are responding to emergencies.
Click the following link to see this story as reported by WRDW Channel 12 in Augusta:
KM Enterprises (dba "EMTRAC Systems") filed an antitrust complaint against Global Traffic Technologies (GTT) on March 23, 2012 in United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. The complaint alleges that GTT engaged in monopolization activities through a series of practices designed to manipulate the market while eliminating competitors from consideration during the competitive-bidding process.
Among other practices, the complaint claims that GTT participated in conduct amounting to "illegal tying" where a competitor manipulates the market for its product by requiring that maintenance of its obsolete product is tied to upgrades and future purchases of a new product for which there is market competition. The complaint also claims that GTT influenced the results of a bid in its favor by illicitly learning the low-bid amount for the purpose of beating that price.
About KM Enterprises, Inc.
Headquartered in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, KM Enterprises, Inc. markets the EMTRAC Priority Management System—a system that utilizes precise navigation technology and secure RF communication to enable equipped transit, emergency, and municipal vehicles to place priority or preemption requests to intersection signal-control equipment. The EMTRAC System is the leading GPS-based priority and preemption system in the industry.
Click here to open a printable PDF copy of this news story.
Click here to open a PDF copy of the full legal complaint.
March 9, 2012 - A new white paper is available, which describes some of the specific ways our customers have implemented the EMTRAC system to improve safety and timeliness for their transit agencies.
Each customer has their own particular challenges to address. Whether it be ensuring that light-rail train operators obey traffic signals (as with Houston METRO) or granting signal priority for buses behind schedule (as with Metro Transit in Minneapolis), the EMTRAC system is capable of meeting a wide array of transit-agency needs.
New BRT Station in Brampton, ON
May 24, 2011 - The March/April 2011 IMSA Ontario newsletter highlighted the new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service that is currently being expanded in Brampton, Ontario. This advanced BRT service was carefully designed to meet specific reliability and efficiency recommendations—and it is the first of its kind in North America.
We are happy to report that the EMTRAC Priority Management System was selected as the signal priority provider for this leading-edge service. In addition to providing conditional signal priority, the EMTRAC system also provides Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) functionality, enabling monitoring personnel to track vehicle locations in real time. These features are described in more detail in the IMSA Ontario article below.
Located in the Toronto metropolitan area, Brampton has a population of over 480,000 people and is one of only 10 cities in North America to be designated as an International Safe Community by the World Health Organization. For more information, please visit the Brampton Transit, Brampton City, and IMSA Ontario web sites.
IMSA Ontario Article: City of Brampton - Transit Signal Priority
Dedicated BRT Land and Signal
In 2007, the City of Brampton, in partnership with the federal and provincial governments, secured funding to implement Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) along three corridors within Brampton. On September 20, 2010, the City unveiled the result of that partnership: Züm, its new BRT service.
The service currently runs along the busy Queen Street corridor, from downtown Brampton to York University. It will expand to Brampton's Main Street/Hurontario Street in the fall of 2011, and Steeles Avenue in the fall of 2012.
In order to accommodate Züm and ensure that the service would be reliable, efficient, and cost effective, the City retained a consultant to review the existing traffic management system and field hardware. The proposal scope required the consultant to review the current technologies available to the market and recommend a Transit Signal Priority (TSP) system to meet the City's current and future needs.
Recommendations from the review included:
The TSP system reduces transit vehicle travel times and schedule variability while minimizing the impact on other traffic. If the transit vehicle is running behind schedule, the system accommodates it by either extending the green phase or shortening the red time (reducing the conflicting green phase times), allowing the vehicle to obtain a green indication sooner.
In order to do this, the TSP system uses a combination of onboard and on-street system architecture. The onboard system receives priority requests from the transit vehicle's Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) system. The AVL system tracks the transit vehicle's position relative to its schedule and can accommodate conditional parameters, such as levels of lateness and number of passengers onboard.
The on-street system takes advantage of features built in the traffic signal controller and TSP/EVP firmware. Specifically, the firmware includes the capability of using multiple 'check-in' detectors based on selectable time-points (in lieu of fixed distance points). In utilizing time-points, priority requests are transmitted to the traffic signal controller based upon the Estimated Time En route (ETE) of the transit vehicle. The algorithms used to calculate the ETE time points in the field and central equipment are what make this system unique to North America. Unlike detection zones that track the vehicle's Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) from a defined x/y coordinate, the TSP system's time-points react in real time, to on-street congestion. Therefore, as traffic volumes fluctuate, so do the time-points.
Finally, a Global Positioning System (GPS) determines the transit vehicle's location based on its coordinates and sends a wireless 900 MHz frequency to upcoming intersections. As the transit vehicle arrives at each advanced time-point, the traffic controller preconditions its internal timings in preparation of the oncoming transit vehicle (under low priority for transit). The advanced time-points help the traffic controller to gradually modify the timings to reduce the impact to the intersection while ensuring the intersection maintains coordination.
In time for the arrival of Züm on Queen Street, a new transit terminal was built adjacent to the Bramalea City Centre. An exclusive transit lane was constructed to keep transit vehicles on schedule as they leave the terminal. Dedicated traffic signal heads with white bar transit priority indications and video detection allow transit vehicles to exit the terminal on a protected phase twice per cycle.
Since its official launch in September, Züm has been operating at near capacity and Brampton Transit has benefited from the highest monthly ridership numbers in its history. Feedback from riders has been positive, with many noting that Züm has set a new standard for public transit in Canada, if not North America.
February 15, 2011 - The Florida Department of Transportation has approved the EMTRAC Priority Management system components for inclusion on their Approved Product List (APL). As a part of this process, the EMTRAC components were evaluated against the FDOT's minimum specifications for Traffic Control Signals and Devices (Section A700, July 2010).
The Florida DOT vendor and product evaluation processes is widely considered one of the most rigorous in the country. Click here to open the FDOT Approved Product List in a new window.
November 5, 2010 - KM Enterprises, Inc. filed a Complaint today against Global Traffic Technologies, LLC (GTT) in United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. The Complaint seeks a declaratory judgment that GTT's United States Patent No. 5,539,398 is invalid and not infringed by KM Enterprises™ EMTRAC Priority Management System. Last month, GTT incorrectly asserted the '398 Patent against a non-existent corporation, EMTRAC Systems, Inc., as well as the President of KM Enterprises, Kris Morgan, and his two sons, who are neither officers nor shareholders of KM Enterprises. To combat the confusion in the marketplace caused by GTT's misdirected lawsuit, KM Enterprises filed today's Complaint. KM Enterprises asserts in its Complaint that GTT's '398 Patent is invalid and does not reach KM Enterprises' products. KM Enterprises also seeks damages and an injunction against GTT for the false advertising of its products, for interfering with prospective contractual relations and for deceptive trade practices.
About KM Enterprises, Inc.
Headquartered in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, KM Enterprises, Inc. markets the EMTRAC Priority Management System, a system that uses precise navigation technology and secure RF communication to detect equipped transit, emergency, and municipal vehicles to place priority or preemption requests to intersection signal-control equipment. The EMTRAC System is the leading GPS-based priority and preemption system in the industry.
Click here to open a PDF copy of this news story.
Click here to open a PDF copy of the full legal complaint.
As first-response and transit agencies throughout North America have discovered, there are many benefits that can be realized by the use of EVP/TSP technology. Click the following link to open a paper that was recently presented by EMTRAC's James Jarzab at the 5th International Conference on Social Science Research. This paper evaluates use of Intelligent Transportation Systems to cost-effectively implement disaster-mitigation procedures.
September 2, 2010 - As part of a third party installation acceptance test for VTA of San Jose, California in July of 2010, Caltrans was asked to verify compliance of the installation with standard specifications. In the process of acceptance testing, the range of EMTRAC equipment transmissions were calculated along El Camino Real in Santa Clara County. The test was supervised by Caltrans engineers; a sample of field observations were generated with the following test procedures:
A floating car was used to replicate a VTA bus operating along El Camino Real, with the antenna placed at approximately 30 inches above pavement resting on the dash board inside of a sub-compact Caltrans staff car
Revenue service conditions for this deployment type would have involved a transit bus with antenna mounted approximately 10 feet above pavement. Under the circumstances the test used an antenna deployed seven and one-half feet below standard height, which—as anticipated—significantly reduced observed detection range. Actual test results yielded acceptable revenue service ranges for transit applications with the minimum transmission distance measured at 1300 feet
March 26, 2010 - On February 22, EMTRAC's own Jim Jarzab summarized the current state of BRT practices during his opening remarks at the Urban Transport World conference in Sydney, Australia.
As Co-Chair of the NTCIP 1211 Emergency Vehicle Preemption and Transit Signal Priority standards committee, Jim Jarzab is a valuable resource about the specific strategies available to municipalities looking to implement a cost-effective Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. Mr. Jarzab's remarks included the following points:
"Many notable BRT projects have been developed around the world over the past two decades. Up to this point, the most successful projects have operated on exclusive rights-of-way in a manner, and at a comparable cost, to light rail. This comparison has often led to debates regarding the relative merits of investments in light rail transit compared to BRT.
"Advances in electronic data storage and information-processing speeds have allowed for transit operators in virtual rights-of-way using advanced vehicle location and identification (AVL/AVI), as well as sophisticated traffic control software, to replicate the safety and functionality of exclusive rights-of-way without the physical structures and resulting adverse community impacts. Sometimes called 'rapid bus', these BRT applications greatly expand the effective range of faster bus operations with enhanced schedule adherence, giving the traveling public better service with minimal investment in additional land or other infrastructure.
"These Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) components expand the sites suitable for successful BRT applications by an order of magnitude. Modern public transportation services are no longer restricted to large metropolitan areas with significant political influence and abandoned rail rights-of-way available to exploit. With apologies to Churchill: 'This is not the end, or even the beginning of the end but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning' with respect to BRT development."
VTA Rapid Transit Bus
February 8, 2010 - Based in Santa Clara, the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) serves the transit needs of six municipalities. Their bus and light-rail lines have seen significant increases in ridership each of the past five years, and VTA has continued studying and implementing improvement programs to better serve their growing number of riders.
One study in particular examined the increase in average operating speed provided by the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) application of Bus Signal Priority (BSP) in rapid bus operation as compared to traditional local bus operation. This study evaluated two methods of signal priority, an in-ground loop and detector system and an EMTRAC GPS and RF-based vehicle detection system.
The study noted that signal priority enabled the operation of rapid bus service with reduced stops and more liberal operating rules than local service. Buses receiving priority traveled 18.4 percent faster than those without priority. Further, buses receiving priority using the EMTRAC system traveled 23 percent faster than those without priority.
Another advantage the EMTRAC system offers is that there is no need to bury in-ground loops, enabling municipalities to improve on-time bus performance without requiring costly sub-surface installations.
From a financial standpoint, public transit has few opportunities to implement productivity improvements. The approximately 20 percent gains from Bus Signal Priority are very important to transit agencies from a resource-allocation perspective. An improvement of 20 percent equates to an effective operating savings for VTA of nearly $1 million annually. Since 2005, operating and maintenance costs for the BSP elements have been negligible, with no equipment failures encountered since installation. Capital costs for BSP average less than $10,000 per intersection and $3,000 per bus.
The use of Bus Signal Priority in combination with other BRT features has proven to have the desired effect on vehicle operations, and thus fulfills the goals of ITS projects. Not only are the results statistically significant, but rider gains in the corridor also accompany the perceived improvement in service quality by the public.
VTA's experience with BSP is similar to that of other transit agencies across the nation. Bus Signal Priority is one of the few cost effective tools available to public transit agencies that improve productivity without adverse consequences. BSP is a foundation element for VTA's extensive Bus Rapid Transit planning effort, and it is likely that BSP will will be a major component of transit operations industry-wide in the near future.
(Original article by Angela MacKenzie appeared in Coquitlam NOW, Friday, October 10, 2008)
EMTRAC in Action
Firefighters in Coquitlam are using advanced technology to get to emergencies faster.
On Monday, Coquitlam council watched a live demonstration via web cam of the fire department's new EMTRAC traffic signal system that gives fire and rescue vehicles priority at traffic intersections throughout the city.
A city van equipped with an EMTRAC device demonstrated how a vehicle would travel through a major intersection without having to slow down or stop.
Coquitlam Fire and Rescue trucks are being fitted with the EMTRAC traffic signal system to help with response time and intersection safety.
The EMTRAC device, about the size of a book, is mounted in the interior of the vehicle.
When activated by the release of the emergency brake and switching on of flashing lights, the device automatically sends a signal to the traffic lights when the vehicle enters a specific zone.
The area of that zone is tailored to the intersection by city traffic technologists, but can be up to approximately 900 meters (3,000 feet) away.
The traffic signal for the vehicle then changes or remains green.
At the same time, the other signals in the intersection change to red to stop all other cars, allowing the priority vehicle to pass through without slowing down or stopping.
The advance signal allows enough time for pedestrians to finish crossing and for other cars to stop safely.
"If we come up to an intersection that is totally clogged, it can add 30 seconds to a minute to our response time, which can make a difference," said Coquitlam Fire and Rescue assistant chief Tom Boechler.
The system is expected to help improve response times by up to 20 per cent and increase safety at intersections.
All emergency vehicles find it difficult to move through heavy traffic, but Boechler says fire trucks are also typically larger in size than other emergency response vehicles and consequently not as maneuverable.
"Emergency driving is always a problem," he says.
"With heavy traffic, it's always a problem because you don't know what the people in front of you are going to do. They're supposed to pull over to the closest curb, but a lot of them just hit the brakes and stop."
The city estimates it will cost $290,000 to equip all of the department's fire and emergency vehicles.
Installation of the new system began in April of this year and approximately 75 percent of the vehicles have the devices installed.
Boechler believes it is money well spent.
"It may seem like a large amount of money at the beginning, but amortized over the lifetime of the system ... It's the life safety that's the issue," he says.
"One injury could make up for that cost."