Applied Information Blog
How counties are improving pedestrian safety with smarter school zone beacons
While school zone beacons are designed for pedestrian and traffic safety, if they’re not in proper repair or timed incorrectly, they can deliver the opposite effect. When drivers see the flashing light at inaccurate times they lose trust in the system, begin to ignore the beacons, and stop slowing down.
Over time, drivers become immune to the flashing lights and disregard them altogether. The advantages of a beacon system are far too important to let slip away due to a lack of trust. With the emergence of the smart beacon system, it can easily be restored.
The importance of building trust
Building trust in the beacon system is critical to its overall success. It’s important to keep the beacons timed correctly so when a driver sees the flashing light, there is no question as to its accuracy. Drivers will know to slow their speed and to be on the lookout for pedestrians. Even one inaccurate event could damage the system’s reliability. Is today a delayed start to the school day? The beacons should be adjusted for the correct time. They should also be programmed so as not to flash on holidays, snow days, and accommodate for any other modification to the standard schedule.
Managing the beacon’s programmed schedule is not the only way to help build trust. Maintenance is also a key factor. Keep batteries, lamps, solar panels and equipment in proper working order and replace them as necessary.
How a smart system can help
A smart school zone beacon system includes an intelligence feature that helps manage the beacon system more efficiently. In addition to making schedule changes, counties and cities are able to remotely monitor the field equipment and its operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, thus allowing for proactive maintenance and quicker response to any performance issues.
Older beacon system required physical inspection at each location during hours of operation to confirm proper functioning and to determine any maintenance needs. The ability to generate a beacon health report is an important tool that proactive departments use to maintain trust in the system. New systems also allow for over-the-air (OTA) upgrades to be simultaneously installed with just one click— a significant improvement over the older models that require a manual chip change to each individual beacon.
Valuable benefits to smart beacon systems
An accurate and driver-trusted system improves pedestrian, driver, and passenger safety. Installing the system helps reduce the number of accidents and ultimately saves lives. It also offers the added benefit of streamlining what once involved very manual, time-consuming tasks into a more efficient use of resources and skills.