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Chamblee, Gwinnett County win grants to devise smart transportation technology

Peachtree Industrial Boulevard

Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, in Gwinnett County, is one of the region's most heavily traveled roads. Gwinnett intends to use technology to increase safety and mobility along a 20-mile segment. File/Credit: snipview.com

By David Pendered

The next generation of transportation technology is to be developed in Chamblee and Gwinnett County, which on Tuesday were awarded cash grants and year-long technical support from a Georgia Tech research team. They were among the four winners of the first Georgia Smart Communities Challenge.

Chamblee intends to study the use of shared autonomous vehicles. The vehicles could transport passengers from MARTA rail stations in Chamblee and Doraville, providing the “last-mile” connectivity that’s seen as important to getting commuters out of single passenger vehicles and onto transit.

Gwinnett County is to study and implement technology to improve safety and mobility along a 20-mile section of Peachtree Industrial Boulevard. For starters, the project can be likened to the smart technology Atlanta has installed along a portion of North Avenue, with traffic lights that share information to make smarter decisions about when to allow vehicles to stop and go.

Two other recipients were named:

  • Chatham County is to develop a sensor network to measure sea level flood risk during natural disasters and storms. The goal is to improve public safety warnings and predictions for future flood events.
  • Albany is to develop an automated housing registry that’s to encourage a safe and sustainable housing inventory for the city.
Bud Peterson

G.P. “Bud” Peterson

Each recipient is to receive a $50,000 grant and $25,000 in researcher support from Tech. Each community raised $50,000 to contribute to the research effort, according to a statement from Tech. The work is to begin in September and continue through September 2019.

Tech is leading the Georgia Smart Community Challenges, which is supported by private sector partners including Georgia Power, the lead sponsor, and the Atlanta Regional Commission, Technology Association of Georgia, Global City Teams Challenge, Georgia Chamber, Metro Atlanta Chamber, Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Georgia Municipal Association, Association County Commissioners of Georgia, and the State of Georgia.

In a statement, Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson the technology to be developed by the four programs could produce game-changing results that could benefit other areas of the state:

  • “Georgia Tech is excited at the opportunity to collaborate with four of Georgia’s dynamic communities in this inaugural Georgia Smart Communities Challenge.
  • “The enthusiasm for this new program has been gratifying, and we look forward to seeing how Georgia Tech’s research expertise and the communities’ vision of smart development mesh together to improve the lives of their citizens. These groundbreaking projects have the potential to become models for other communities around our state.”
Peachtree Industrial Boulevard

Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, in Gwinnett County, is one of the region’s most heavily traveled roads. Gwinnett won a grant to use technology to increase safety and mobility along a 20-mile segment. Credit: snipview.com

Each government submitted a master plan. Here are snippets from the plans from Chamblee and Gwinnett County.


  • “Chamblee has selected the topic area for the project to be Smart Mobility. We need to get out in front of the technology so we can be smarter about the unintended consequences sprawl associated with the proliferation of automobiles. The distances people are willing to travel in autonomous vehicles will increase substantially because they can make better use of their time. How can we better understand the technology and its limitations to mitigate the pitfalls of its impact on land use and the built environment?”


  • “The Connected Vehicle Technology Master Plan will develop knowledge and/or experience that is transferable to multiple locations in Georgia and nationally. To date, a majority of the connected vehicle pilot programs have been limited to test cases along interstates or in central business districts. While this was a logical place to start, the majority of home-based trips are made in a suburban setting, along surface roads with irregularly spaced, at-grade intersections. A master plan is needed to ensure that the expanded deployment and use of the traffic safety technology is uniform and suitable across a wide spectrum of travel scenarios.”



David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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