Technology-Enabled Smarter and Safer Routes to School
"We’re honored to be selected as one of only four grant recipients for the Georgia Smart Communities challenge,” said Milton Mayor Joe Lockwood. “Our proposal provides the city and its school partners the opportunity to pilot technology for Milton’s parents and students that directly promotes health and wellness, improves traffic congestion, and reduces emissions. We look forward to replicating this across the city with other area schools.”
The City of Milton will use the GA Smart Communities Challenge grant funding to study and develop a smart-interactive app for smart phones to provide real-time group communication for parents of kids who want to walk to school in a group with other kids, also known as a “Walking School Bus”. The app will have features and information that would improve and encourage the children to walk and bike to and from School and reduce the number of parents’ drop-off trips via cars.
The city of Milton has approximately 39,000 residents and is very family oriented with highly educated young residents. 20% of the city population is 14 years old or younger. This project will build on the accomplishments of a previous Safe Route To School Program (SRTS) which added sidewalk sections, traffic signals, cross walks and signage to the city. The targeted test area to implement this smart mobility project is downtown Milton in the historic Crabapple community.
The city of Milton will partner with three schools in the adjacent historic village of Crabapple tree. These schools are the Crossing Elementary School, Northwestern Middle School and Milton High School. This area has already implemented the Georgia program “Safe Route To Schools”, which promotes connecting sidewalks from residential neighborhoods to the school to encourage students to walk to school.
Safety was the number one concern of the city, schools and parents. Many parents are worried about the personal safety of their children walking to schools. The Smarter, Safer Routes to Schools app will look at filling the information gaps to address the safety perceptions of the parents to promote the organized Walking School Bus with adult supervision to calm some fears.
The app would allow parents to set up and join a Walking School Bus, see real-time location and estimated arrival times of their children, see which friends and parents will be on the route, see the number of students and parent volunteers walking to school that day, link to the local weather and temperature, request Milton or Fulton County Schools Police Officer escort for the walk, and get confirmations about their kids arrival at school.
Dr. Watkins, Georgia Tech professor in School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Dr. Guin, senior research engineer at Georgia tech School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, will advise and assist in capturing the functional requirements for the app and overseeing the design based on previous open source code. Metrics such as the Level of Traffic Stress will be used to assess which streets are the most walkable and bikeable based on traffic volumes and speeds. These aspects will be incorporated into the app to provide information to the parents about the best routes. In the last phase of the project, Dr. Guin and Dr. Watkins will participate in the evaluation of the impact of the Smarter Safer Routes to School app using technology to collect data about the acceptance of the app and the resulting changes in walking and biking behavior.
Read Milton’s Smarter Safer Routes to School Georgia Smart Proposal HERE