Los Angeles is a great city for a lot of reasons. Traffic is not one of them. So, over the past three decades, the city's spent nearly half a billion dollars creating the "the Automated Traffic Surveillance and Control system." In brief, the city just synched up its 4,500 red lights. Traffic-measuring magnets, cameras and many many computers are involved in what The New York Times calls "one of the world's most comprehensive systems for mitigating traffic." Sounds pretty awesome, right? The only problem: It might not work that well.
This isn't necessarily the city leaders' fault if the expensive new system doesn't solve all of its traffic problems. The system does a lot of things really well. Those magnetic sensors, for instance, work kind of alike a million virtual crossing guards, taking advantage of breaks and redirecting traffic when the road gets congested. "When buses are running behind schedule, the network automatically extends green lights in bus-only lanes," explains Ian Lovett at The Times. "When roads are closed for special events, like the Oscars or a presidential visit, light patterns direct cars to other streets, though that does not always solve the problem."