Smart City

Smart City Sentinel

Keeping the Trains Moving: ClearBlade Scores Contract to Deliver Grade Crossing and Asset Monitoring Across Chicagoland

By Matthew Vulpis

Smart cities have been considered the next step of urban evolution for decades, leveraging IoT technology to allow devices and applications within the city to communicate and work in unison. This allows smart cities to be more effective and efficient in the use of resources, a necessity given the projected fast growth in urban populations over the next decades.

IoT makes the creation of "smart transportation" within smart cities possible. By applying a variety of technologies to monitor, evaluate, and manage transportation systems, IoT can help enhance efficiency, safety, convenience, and cost-effectiveness for both consumers and vehicles. IoT technology can be utilized for any form of city transportation, from cars to buses and trains.

The global smart transportation market grew from $108 billion in 2021 to $124.21 billion in 2022 at a CAGR of 15.01 percent, with estimates project the market value at $238.41 billion in 2026 at a CAGR of 17.70 percent. However, these numbers should be set to change as more cities realize the benefits and begin to invest in IoT-enabled transportation technology and infrastructure.

Recently, Chicago Metra announced it has awarded ClearBlade, an industry-leading IoT Platform and Edge AI company, a $3.9 Million, six-year contract to deliver Grade Crossing and Asset Monitoring for over 300 locations across the Chicagoland area.

Metra is one of North America's largest and most complex commuter rail systems. The agency provides service to and from downtown Chicago with 242 stations over 11 routes totaling nearly 500 route miles and approximately 1,200 miles of track. Metra operates more than 700 weekday trains, providing about 290,000 passenger trips each weekday, and is responsible for 24 railyards, 565-grade crossings, 12 fuel facilities, and 847 bridges.

In May 2022, Metra issued a Grade Crossing Monitoring RFP to approximately 400 vendors, requesting a comprehensive monitoring solution for all remote monitoring needs. Their requirements included a flexible and modular Edge and back-office platform for monitoring all wayside assets, including:

  • Grade crossings
  • Positive train control wayside systems
  • Snow melter systems
  • Track circuits
  • Switch machines
  • Power Systems
  • Crossing video cameras

ClearBlade has an impressive history of delivering monitoring solutions to several class 1 rails, and this award puts them on the map for big-city rail transits across North America. Examples of the company's prior experience with implementing IoT technology into railway systems include utilizing ClearBlade Edge at the crossing to process field equipment data and stream events to the back-office platform.

ClearBlade also connects ticketing and asset management systems of record to provide optimized business continuity. The results of leveraging ClearBlade IoT technology in train systems include real-time data that improves operational efficiency and ensures those responsible for maintenance have the parts, information, and digital tools that enable field engineers to optimize their time.

Edited by Erik Linask
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