Parsons’ Intelligent Traffic Solution Built on AWS Helps Cities Reduce Congestion and Cut Costs

Executive Summary

Parsons Corporation, an AWS Partner, uses AWS to help cities manage traffic flow in major traffic corridors, reduce congestion, and decrease operating costs. Cities rely on Parsons’ Intelligent Intersections solution, which runs on AWS, to gather and analyze traffic data, monitor operational efficiency and recommend improvements to optimize traffic flow.

Helping Cities Solve Their Traffic Problems

Parsons Corporation has provided engineering services to defense, intelligence, and critical infrastructure organizations across the globe since 1944. An Amazon Web Services (AWS) Partner, the company has used AWS to power critical workloads and reduce operating costs since 2015. Parsons chose to go all-in on AWS in 2019, moving additional workloads to the cloud. “We wanted to boost scalability and flexibility and drive innovation, and AWS helps us accomplish that,” says Mark Conrad, Product Manager at Parsons Corporation.

Starting in late 2019, Parsons sought to help cities worldwide solve their traffic signal problems. “We wanted to explore innovative techniques to minimize excess traffic congestion due to the degradation of traffic signal timings, sensor failures, and other factors,” Conrad says. “We understood that the usual offline process that cities undertake to retime their traffic signals every three to five years is labor-intensive and time-consuming. We wanted to see if we could use cloud technology to automate signal retiming.”

To meet its goals, the company launched the Parsons Smart Cities Challenge. In this contest, cities applied with the hope of receiving a trial of a Parsons’ cloud-based smart traffic solution to help reduce the amount of time citizens spend stopped at red lights.

“From the large quantities of data AWS enables us to collect and store, we’re able to extract information such as the number of arriving vehicles and pedestrians, the proportion of vehicles having to stop at a red signal, and the amount of time vehicles and pedestrians spend waiting to get through intersections.”

- Mark Conrad, Product Manager, Parsons Corporation

Building a Smart Traffic Management Solution on AWS

To support the initiative, Parsons leveraged its AWS partnership to design and deliver Parsons’ Intelligent Intersections, a software solution designed to provide awareness, insights, and decision support to cities for improved management of their signalized roadways. The solution runs on AWS services including Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS), Amazon Route 53, AWS Identity and Access Management (AWS IAM), Amazon Cognito, AWS Glue, and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). “AWS allowed us to quickly build out a secure, scalable, reliable, and cost-effective solution,” says Conrad.

Parsons’ Intelligent Intersections captures data already being generated at intersections, including sensor and signal state data from traffic signals along with crowdsourced trajectory data from GPS devices, cell phones, and connected vehicles. Traffic engineers can then use a dashboard to visualize the real-time information about traffic signal timing and traffic flow. The solution stores this information for analysis and reporting, displays this information on a real-time dashboard, and uses advanced algorithms to monitor the effectiveness of the current traffic signal timings and automatically recommend improvements. Conrad says, “From the large quantities of data AWS enables us to collect and store, we’re able to extract information such as the number of arriving vehicles and pedestrians, the proportion of vehicles having to stop at a red signal, and the amount of time vehicles and pedestrians spend waiting to get through intersections.”

Adds Conrad, “Improving public perception is an important benefit of this system. Parsons’ Intelligent Intersections provides a real-time map and dashboard to quickly identify signal timing anomalies and equipment failures, enabling cities to minimize public complaints by proactively identifying problems. A full suite of Automated Traffic Signal Performance Measure reports is provided to allow city engineers and technicians to diagnose and correct issues, fixing broken equipment or adjusting signal timing parameters as needed.”

Helping Cities Improve Traffic Flow in Busy Corridors

Cities can reduce traffic congestion by automating traffic signal retiming with the Parsons solution on AWS. Parsons’ Intelligent Intersections solution continuously assesses the suitability of current traffic signal timings to prevailing traffic conditions, recommending retiming of the signals when improvements are needed as opposed to once every 3–5 years as is the traditional approach. With prompt updating of traffic signal timings, the company believes it can eliminate degradation of traffic signal timings, significantly reducing congestion and improving safety. For example, cities are using Intelligent Intersections to ease traffic jams in major corridors that handle hundreds of thousands of vehicles each day.

Reducing Costs by Eliminating Manual Traffic Control Processes

By relying on Parsons’ Intelligent Intersections, cities can lower data collection and signal retiming costs. “Cities that take advantage of our solution no longer need to expend resources to collect traffic data or to perform offline traffic signal timing analyses,” says Conrad.

Next, Parsons plans to drive adoption of its Intelligent Intersections solution through joint campaigning with AWS. “We haven’t fully leveraged the scale of AWS for our solutions,” says Conrad. “We’re excited to see where our collaboration leads.”


About Parsons Corporation

Based in Centreville, Virginia, Parsons Corporation is a leading technology provider in the global security, intelligence, and critical infrastructure markets, with capabilities across cybersecurity, missile defense, space, connected infrastructure, and smart cities.

APN Program Participation

Published July 2022