In an emergency, job one is getting to the scene as quickly and safely as possible. For more than 25 years, University Park Fire Department has used a product called Opticom, using infrared technology to trigger signaled intersections so responding personnel can pass through high-traffic areas without delay. With the passage of time, this technology has become less reliable, especially in neighborhoods like ours that have heavy tree cover.
To answer these shortcomings, thanks to the expansion and dependability of GPS technology, Opticom's upgraded traffic signal preemption system embeds radio technology in emergency vehicles and now uses GPS to calculate speed, direction and longitude and latitude data. All of these factors are immediately transmitted to GPS intersection receivers that then track the status of emergency vehicles, and switch as emergency personnel approach. Not burdened by dense foliage, GPS operation preempts traffic signals at a greater distance, and is not reliant on line-of-sight readings.
Approved by the City Council, at a cost of $309,000, our GPS-centered Opticom system is now operating at all 32 of the City’s signal-controlled intersections. Correspondingly, its tracking equipment is in all our emergency vehicles, including all Fire and EMS apparatus, and for the first time, all Police vehicles.