Keeping track of traffic signal components and replacement parts is a challenge for most cities. Traffic signal components wear out or sustain damage in automobile accidents and regularly need to be replaced. Employees have to document where components go and how often. Cities also struggle with setting up efficient and comprehensive inventory systems so that traffic signals and their parts can be included as assets in cities' budgets.
The Public Works Department of Kansas City, Mo., was one of the first cities in the nation to use radio frequency identification tags (RFID) to address these issues. Public works employees created a cost-effective system to establish an inventory of equipment, locate traffic signal parts, and receive data about signal operations. This information is integrated into a database so that the status of traffic signals is readily available and easily located. Since the successful implementation of this system, the City has expanded it to track additional city assets. Other cities could follow Kansas City's example and establish a traffic signal tracking system to meet their own needs.