Omaha to use high tech research to improve curbside management

Will identify 100 “smart loading zones”
WOWT 6 News Live at 10
Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 10:25 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Ken Smith’s job has become, well, jammed up in recent years. The City of Omaha’s Parking and Mobility Manager now has to add “Curbside Management” to his job description.

“It’s actually more than just parking cars,” Smith said. “You see delivery services, food delivery, rideshare services, (all) taking up a lot of curb space or blocking traffic so you have to find a solution to those concerns we are having.”

Smith hopes a solution will come from 100 smart loading zones across the city, designed to keep the curbs more open for the public.

The City of Omaha has been selected by the company Automotus to be part of their 2022 Commercial Curb Challenge, providing $500,000 worth of cameras and artificial intelligence vision technology with the goal of reducing congestion by driving businesses to better manage their own drop-offs and deliveries.

“It’s really because businesses are doing so well,” Smith said, referring to the increase in curbside congestion. “So for example, the Uber drivers want to get there, and they’re clogging off the streets, so if we can get that traffic off next to the curb, hopefully, the traffic flow will function much better.”

What that means in the future is likely to charge curb-hogging businesses for their time.

“If you’re coming at five o’clock at night in the Old Market and you want to unload your deliveries it might cost you a little more,” Smith said. “We’re gonna try to figure out those dwell times, occupancy levels, and determine what’s good for businesses and what’s not good for businesses.”

Smith emphasizes that the technology stores no personal information or raw video feeds.

He says they should begin gathering data in early 2022.

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