15 December, 2009

Swap: Traffic Lights For Air Conditioner

As I'm sitting here it's a cool evening, but we've had the first few harbingers of a hot summer already and they were meltingly hot days.  And my aircon's just decided to stop working.  Normally, in a life I left long ago, I'd have not worried about it but these days, with emphysema making me miserable on hot days, and humid hot days feeling like a slow suffocation, I'm going to have to look around for a replacement pretty quickly.

I bought it for myself last year when I had some spare cash, and true to any gadget bought today, it failed pretty much within months of the warranty period expiring.  Bugger.  I'm facing a few months of sitting in shopping malls using up their a/c and being a "senior mall rodent"... %)

It's such a far cry from things like traffic lights icing up...  Ironic, even.

Interestingly, in Western Australia we've had 240Vac traffic light lamps since the inception of traffic lights, and have only recently switched to LED based traffic light lamps ourselves. Now when the traffic lights had 240V lamps, they were a real hazard during traffic accidents, as live wiring contributed to the dangers faced by people extricating themselves, and emergency personnel trying to do their jobs.  (Since so many accidents involve intersections in the city.)

It's been one of the irritations of what's otherwise a very pleasant and healthy city, that the traffic lights that are supposed to regulate traffic and save lives, are a lethal hazard in themselves.  Another irritation has been the really cheap-ass relay based controllers, which seemingly can't be remotely monitored, activated, or reprogrammed.  So intersections where the traffic patterns had changed substantially due to new roads etc would still have long green lights on now largely unused approaches, annoyingly long wastes of petrol waiting for the lights to change.

And of course not being remotely controlled or monitored means that driving down any street in the city is still a stop/start/stop/start experience that contributes significantly to the bit of pollution we do have already, wastes fuel, and slows traffic through the city to an annoying crawl.  I've always thought that changing a few thousand controllers with some kind of smart ones that can monitor traffic flows and adjacent light controllers and adjust accordingly, would make the biggest difference to fuel wasted due to idling at lights, pollution levels, and speed of transit through densely trafficked areas.

So now that the LED lamps are in place, I wonder whether they've replaced those controllers and replaced them with digital low voltage units, or are just using the new lamps with a dropping resistor, thus making the lights as lethal as before...

Oh and one other thing a smart controller with cameras could do, is to monitor traffic speeds, and take pictures of offending vehicles, and also to adjust themselves to slow down speeders.  It would only take a few months of finding that roaring up to lights will only get an amber light and your number plate being sent to the watch list before drivers would settle down a lot. And of course, photographic evidence is also handy if someone has an accident at a traffic light.

I wonder if I could swap that idea for an a/c that actually works for more than a year?

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