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Community TV in LA Adds Real-Time Traffic Information

Keeping commuters up to date on regional traffic conditions

BlueCommute Pasadena screen shot

ST. PAUL, MINN. — Community TV channels serving southern California communities have added a service to show traffic conditions throughout the region, using products and services from Tightrope Media and Iteris. Branded as BlueCommute, the software-defined program is based on Iteris’ range of Intelligent Transportation System solutions, providing commuters with an up-to-the-minute display of travel conditions across local routes. The BlueCommute platform delivers that information to viewers as a rich media experience, offering a mix of dynamic video, graphics and text that continuously updates.

The federally funded BlueCommute service broadens community outreach by simulcasting over Community TV, or cable access channels, in Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange and San Diego Counties. Though BlueCommute offers personalized traffic information via its subscription service over the web, mobile devices and standard telephone systems, the version delivered to Community TV channels is free for both broadcasters and viewers.

To achieve its goals of cost-efficiently providing a free TV service, Iteris is working with Tightrope Media Systems to transition communities across these four counties to a simpler, low-cost architecture, beginning with several cities (including El Segundo and Hawthorne) in Los Angeles County. In the process, viewers who follow Community TV broadcasts can monitor the latest information on traffic congestion, road construction, highway incidents and special events.

Tightrope Media products are used by a large number of Community TV stations in the United States through its portfolio of servers and automation systems. Most of these stations use Tightrope’s Carousel digital signage system for on-air graphics. The workflow connects Iteris’ real-time rich media feeds at the backbone of BlueCommute to Carousel servers at these Community TV facilities.

Cell phone traffic update with BlueCommute

According to Alan Clelland, vice president of transportation systems at Iteris, Carousel provides a direct connection between BlueCommute and Community TV stations that eliminates computers and auxiliary components. Furthermore, Community TV channels reap the benefit of additional free content to fill airtime and attract more viewers.

“Tightrope’s Carousel solution is attractive because it offers a variety of ways to use content,” said Clelland. “For example, Iteris takes data, graphics and video content from multiple sources and compiles a full screen for transmission. The Community TV station can receive this content and translate it to a broadcast screen very simply, providing ease of entry for a new user. However, Carousel also allows experienced users to build their own templates, and determine what content is sent to the broadcast screen.”

Clelland adds that the BlueCommute service is uniquely branded for the southern California deployment, though the same service can be quickly rolled out at a low cost in other regions thanks to the integration with Carousel.

“Many Community TV stations have embraced our Carousel platform due to its ability to display traffic cameras RSS feeds and other data streams right out of the box, but BlueCommute has put all of those capabilities and more together in a package that provides an invaluable service for commuters traveling the roads and highways of the densely populated southern California region,” said Steve Israelsky, VP of broadcast solutions at Tightrope Media Systems. “There is a real opportunity here to drive audience and create unique programming for Community TV stations nationwide.”

Bill Greco, an independent consultant working with Iteris, was instrumental in bringing the two companies together for the BlueCommute project. According to Greco, the budget constraints associated with municipalities and local cable access made Tightrope an attractive option for both BlueCommute and future deployments – first, due to Tightrope’s high penetration in Community TV with existing Carousel installations; and second, given the affordable price-point for stations interested in upgrading to Carousel. The concept of delivering rich, real-time information on traffic conditions to Community TV stations is an attractive proposition for all parties, from the viewer and broadcaster to government agencies.

“The Federal Highway Administration is partially gauging the success of BlueCommute on subscriber numbers, and opening new delivery platforms such as Community TV will prove significant for attracting new subscribers to the more personalized service,” said Greco. “We believe that the success of BlueCommute will inspire future deployments, not only within Community TV stations that can offer an important service to viewers, but also within municipal buildings, hospitals, airports, shopping malls and universities – or any venue where commuters desire real-time traffic information. We see a wide array of opportunities moving forward.”