London plans to test new camera-equipped pedestrian crossing signs that will recognise how many people are waiting to cross and can even lengthen the "green man" phase to allow more people to cross in time.
The smart signs would therefore be handy when large crowds exit sporting events or other public events, because they would be able to auto-adjust the green man phase, potentially cutting back on pedestrian congestion. The Telegraph reported that these signs will enter a trial period this summer at Tooting Bec and Balham Underground stations.
The concept is an extension of London's SCOOT system (Split Cycle Offset Optimisation Technique), which is available at more than 3,000 locations. It automatically changes traffic signals, depending on traffic flow. Specifically, it can keep vehicular traffic flowing by turning on the red light when needed.
London Mayor Boris Johnson gave the following statement when announcing the smart signs earlier this month: "I am delighted that London is the first city in the world to be trialling this cutting-edge equipment, which will benefit pedestrians across the city. Innovation like this is key to keeping London moving efficiently and making our roads safer for everyone to use."
Additionally, apart from lengthening the green man phase, the smart signs might include a currently-in-development "call cancel" technology that can detect when a pedestrian has pushed the crossing button and walks away. The expectation is that it'll be able to cancel the pedestrian crossing phase in those instances.