Manatee County’s Regional Traffic Management Center has been hard at work developing a new website that will change the way you navigate your commute.
The free service officially launched with a demo during Tuesday’s Board of County Commissioners meeting. Traffic officials said the project is part of the department’s efforts to start making the vast amount of data they have available to Manatee residents.
“We have a lot of information that we’re gathering but not sharing with the public,” said Sage Kamiya, deputy director of traffic management. “This is our opportunity to do that.”
The web page, which can be accessed at www.smarttrafficinfo.org, shows a map of the Manatee-Sarasota area covered with blue camera icons. Clicking those icons allows you to view real-time traffic footage from the selected area.
Finding a camera with a view of your route shouldn’t be a problem. There are more than 200 cameras stretching from Parrish to North Port. According to Fabio Capillo, manager of traffic management, the team is working to add even more in the future.
Capillo said the cameras swivel on a set timer to monitor the largest area possible. There’s a team at the Traffic Management Center dedicated to watching these cameras and reporting any traffic issues they discover. The main goal, however, was to allow commuters to access cameras themselves.
“We already have access to CCTV on a daily basis. Now, everybody else will have access to live video, too,” Capillo said.
Users can also use a search bar at the top of the page to search street names and find the exact camera they’re looking for. Capillo said one use he expects is checking traffic conditions before leaving your home.
“You will be able to understand the level of congestion,” Capillo said. “Informed travelers will make informed decisions and they’re going to be able to plan their trip if they’re going to the beach or out to dinner. They can ask, ‘Do I want to do it now, do I want to do it later? You just connect and you can get visual confirmation of the current conditions.”
The Florida Department of Transportation funded the Smart Traffic website with a $300,000 grant, which covered the full cost of the project. Capillo said his team was also able to negotiate a free year of site maintenance.
Smart Traffic is accessible from any device, Capillo said, including phones, tablets and computers. Also included on the website are links to the Smart Traffic Twitter account, a calendar of events that may affect traffic and other useful links. Traffic officials have also included a video tutorial for website newcomers.
Commissioners said they were pleased with the result of the project and welcomed the site as a useful resource for commuters.
“There are websites that I use on my phone to see traffic but this a lot more,” said Commissioner Betsy Benac.
The Regional Traffic Center was founded in 2009, according to Kamiya. In 2014, they asked the county to request funding for the Smart Traffic website. You can visit the website at www.smarttrafficinfo.org.