The Kansas City, Mo., Public Works Department has implemented a new system for tracking traffic signal parts and maintenance that incorporates radio frequency identification tags (RFID). Public works employees are using the system to keep track of inventory, locate traffic signal parts and manage data about signal operations.

In spring 2008, public works managers realized their system of managing 660 traffic signals and 120 flashers throughout 230 square miles using spreadsheets and employees’ memories no longer was reliable. The city needed a better way to manage component replacement as well as record traffic signal assets on the city’s balance sheet.

Kansas City contracted with Dubuque, Iowa-based CartêGraph in early 2009 to set up an asset database and with Overland Park, Kan.-based BHC RHODES to collect field data and install RFID tags and readers. The city selected a hand-held scan inventory system that includes passive RFID tags and readers that could read tags from distances of up to 50 feet.

Field work began in March 2010. Four to six field technicians collected data about the traffic signal components using tablet computers and affixed tags at intersections. Each tag was encoded with information identifying each component, its location and the date the component was installed. The tags were mounted seven feet high on signal poles and onto the controllers inside weatherproof enclosures. By mid-July 2010, all field work was finished, about three months ahead of schedule. After the field work was completed, the data was imported in the CartêGraph database, and the system went live October 2010.

Now, public works technicians use hand-held readers or stationary readers located in the warehouse to record traffic signal components, and that information is stored in the main database. When any of the assets are repaired or maintained, crews scan the RFID tags and record the work completed in the database.

Project: Tracking traffic signal parts using RFID
Jurisdiction: Kansas City, Mo.
Agency: Public Works Department
Vendors: Dubuque, Iowa-based CartêGraph; Overland Park, Kan.-based BHC RHODES
Date completed: August 2010
Cost: $700,000