Valdosta launches TravelSafely App and Emergency Vehicle Preemption as part of Georgia Smart Communities Challenge Grant

On Wednesday, June 23, the City of Valdosta held several events including a Rotary presentation, Community Stakeholders Lunch and Learn, and Connected Vehicle Discussion with numerous speakers from across the state during its official roll out of the TravelSafely App and a smart traffic management system. This project is part of the Georgia Tech’s Georgia Smart Communities Challenge Grant (Georgia Smart). The smart communities program empowers local governments to think outside of the box and use innovation to improve their communities.

In August 2020, Valdosta was awarded the grant that provided the city’s Traffic Management Center (TMC) with funding to have all 128 major traffic signals equipped with smart technology, enabling the possibility of connecting all modes of travel to traffic infrastructure and one another. The grant included the installation of advanced transponders in emergency response vehicles, and the downloading of smartphone apps, such as TravelSafely, to be used by VSU students and members of the Valdosta community.

Citizens are encouraged to now download the TravelSafely App available in the app store for Apple and Android devices. TravelSafely, powered by Applied Information, uses cutting edge technology to connect your phone to a network of traffic intersections, school beacons, motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. The app uses audible warnings to alert you to potentially dangerous road conditions. By utilizing spoken alerts, TravelSafely allows you to focus on the road and receive alerts while using your favorite mapping app.

“We are extremely excited to officially launch the TravelSafely App for the Valdosta community in partnership with Georgia Tech and Valdosta State University. This project is transforming Valdosta into a smart and connected city. We are committed to creating and sustaining a smart, effective traffic control system which will result in improved traffic flow, road safety, and reduction in the number of traffic accidents,” said Mark Barber, Valdosta City Manager.

The smart traffic management system will give Valdosta Fire Department emergency vehicles preemptive green lights at traffic signals – reducing response times and improving safety at intersections.

“The preemption system under the Georgia Smart Grant will help us maintain the highest level of responsiveness to emergencies by ensuring our firefighters get to the scene safely and quickly while at the same time, protecting motorists and pedestrians on the road,” said Brian Boutwell, Valdosta Fire Chief.

Georgia Tech researcher Baabak Ashuri and Valdosta State University researcher Barry Hojjatie have served as co-principal investigators on the project.  Since 2020, Ashuri and Hojjatie have worked with the Valdosta City Engineer Patrick Collins and the City Traffic Manager Larry Ogden in research and engineering aspects of the project. Community and industrial partners include Southern Georgia Regional Commission, Valdosta-Lowndes Development Authority, Valdosta State University, Temple and Applied Information Inc.

Valdosta is one of only four communities in the state to receive this recognition from Georgia Tech in 2020.

“As Project Manager for the City of Valdosta, it has been such a great opportunity over the past year to advance our Traffic Management Center capabilities with deployment of the Travel Safely application and signal pre-emption for fire vehicles. We have enjoyed the opportunity to partner with Valdosta State University and Georgia Tech to provide hands-on experience to the next generation of students pursuing careers in traffic engineering and signal maintenance.  Thank you Georgia Smart Communities,” said Patrick S. Collins, P.E., Valdosta City Engineer”

Learn more about the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge at