Gizmos & Gadgets: Smart Crosswalks in Your Urban Future

March 14, 2014 – If you live in London in the United Kingdom as a pedestrian you may soon find it a lot safer to cross a street. New smart sensors and cameras are being tested that can detect a build up of pedestrians at a corner and adjust traffic signals to the volume. The pilot project under the Safe London Streets initiative is being conducted by Transport for London (TFL).

The technology involved is called the Pedestrian Split Cycle Offset Optimisation Technique or SCOOT. Video cameras detect the number of pedestrians at a crossing. A signal then gets sent to the crossing lights to adjust the timing so that a maximum number of people get across safely. TFL plans to develop call cancel technology to deal with jaywalkers who cross before the signal gives the okay. I’m not sure what exactly will be involved but I am sure it won’t include the proverbial hook to grab the errant pedestrian and haul them back to the curb.

Under Safe London Streets the city is committed to 56 actions designed to improve vehicular and pedestrian traffic in the city’s core, one of the most congested in the world. The goal is to decrease the number of deaths from road-related incidents by 40% by 2020.


Len Rosen lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a researcher and writer who has a fascination with science and technology. He is married with a daughter who works in radio, and a miniature red poodle who is his daily companion on walks of discovery. More...