And here were are. I just finished a post talking, in exaggeration, about the implications of “Big Brother”. This is in today’s piece on Watch Dogs, Ubisoft’s PlayStation 4 launch title that thumbs its nose at lines crossed by over-indulgence in mass surveillance. In the included video, Pierce, the game’s protagonist is able to hack into the city’s public transportation and surveillance systems (among other things). In the game, centralized control over such wide sweeping systems leaves them incredibly vulnerable to hackers.

But in the real world of today, Los Angeles has done something incredibly similar. Tuesday, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa thrust his city of Los Angeles into the high-tech future. With the flip of a switch, nearly all of LA’s traffic signals are now synchronized and controlled from a single system. A staggering 4,400 (approx) traffic signals are now part of the synchronization. The traffic signal synchronization will hopefully increase travel and commute speeds by as much as 16% and reduce commute time by as much as 12%. That’s signficant considering the repellent and congested nature of LA traffic, especially for this particular journalist around tech event time.

The boon to the environment is astounding. Reports suggest, that carbon emissions should be down by a massive 1-million tons per year. This is due to the significantly lower number of vehicles idling at stop lights or caught in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Fuel efficiency per vehicle should also benefit. Criminals, you won’t benefit from this one bit. The system can effectively be used to reroute traffic to assist police officers in pursuit or escorting. It will also help clean up traffic and make routes for rescue and emergency first-responders to get to you that much quicker, without incident.

The completion of the system ties up loose ends from nearly 30 years ago when the project was left stagnant in 1984. Then a similar system was in place which only covered signals around LA Memorial Coliseum. Yet it was successful enough for City council to mandate its expansion, which ran into financial trouble. Amassing the $410 million needed in funds only prolonged the project to present day when “outside resources” were secured.

Shawn Sanders

Shawn loves gadgets, literature, history and games. For 10yrs+ he's straddled both the comic book & video game industries, as a writer, editor, marketing officer & producer. Shawn got his start in tech & games as an editor & Hardware Director for More notable accomplishments include Executive Producer on mobile games Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved & The Shroud.