Rail is still the most efficient and safe way to move freight. It is key to the supply chain in the US and one of the critical infrastructures that maintains the country. Cities grew up around rail lines and road traffic increased. Today some crossings pose a significant challenge to: Public Safety, Commerce, the Environment and People.

  • Increase precious response time for Police, Firefighters and EMS
  • Reduce chances of achieving positive outcomes in case of critical injuries
  • Cause catastrophic derailments

Emergency crews currently lack advanced warning of blocked crossings, but there is an answer – Predictive Mobility: Systems that provide advance notification for emergency response dispatchers and drivers to avoid blocked crossings saving time and lives!

71% Of rail crossing deaths occur despite accepted safety measures*

94% Of drivers circumvent accepted safety features**

60% Of drivers have experienced delays of 20 minutes or more**

LinqThingz provides the most advanced technology using Predictive Mobility to help emergency responders save lives and property. Regional deployment of these systems means greater coverage and advanced warnings for first responders.

Predictive Mobility:

  1. Provides advanced notification
  2. Provides alternative routes
  3. Improves Safety
  4. Helps Commerce
  5. Reduces Pollution

Predictive Mobility Solution in Milwaukee

Milwaukee’s current fire chief, early in his career, watched an apartment burn down while his firetruck was stuck on the other side of a blocked rail crossing (see story on pg 18). Unfortunately, blocked rail crossings have a significant impact on emergency response.

FIGURE 1: Train blocks firetruck en-route to industrial fire in Houston, TX.

When lives are on the line…firefighters are sometimes faced with difficult decisions. In Pennsylvania, a fire truck disregards crossing guards with an approaching train to reach a fire with children trapped in a burning apartment.

FIGURE 2: Firetruck disregards closed crossing gate and looks to beat an oncoming train to rescue people from an apartment fire.

Story from Pennsylvania and another.


Rail crossings in downtown Milwaukee present a risk for emergency response, cause people delays, logistics companies’ expenses and contribute to a multitude of congestion and safety issues. Rail is still a vital and necessary mechanism for transport of goods. Predictive Mobility disrupts the transportation industry where rail meets the road. This solution will allow road traffic to avoid rail traffic without having to lift a shovel for expensive bridges or tunnels.

FIGURE 3: Freight rail crossings block traffic in the heart of Downtown and 3rd ward.

Bridges or tunnels cost tens of millions. Predictive Mobility costs only pennies per crossing occurrence. The payback for downtown Milwaukee is enormous compared to cost.

FIGURE 4: The cost impact of rail congestion in downtown Milwaukee.

Northwest Side

The impact on the northwest side of Milwaukee is ten times that of downtown with over 150,000 vehicles crossing rail tracks each day. We estimate the cost of blocked crossings in this part of town to be approaching $30M per year.

FIGURE 5: Average Daily Traffic at high priority crossings. Over 150,000 vehicles transverse rail crossings in the north west part of the City of Milwaukee.


A pilot system is being installed in downtown Milwaukee. Access to the system will be provided to all types of users: emergency response, people and companies.

FIGURE 6: Pilot installation in downtown Milwaukee will provide relief to business commuters and emergency response.

Data From Plankinton

Plankinton Avenue is located downtown Milwaukee near where the river separates downtown from the Historic Third Ward. All types of traffic can be stopped at this crossing which is also immediately adjacent to a bridge over the river. For emergency crews this is particularly challenging. Dozens of calls per day transit this bridge and if a fire truck is stopped at this intersection there is no way to turn around. Data shows this crossing is blocked as long as 57 minutes.

Figure 7: Summary Data From crossing at Plankinton

Data from LinqThingz’ sensors was used to create a histogram. This histogram of blockage time shows that there are a number of short delay blockages. These blockages are due to Amtrack and average about 42 seconds.

Figure 8: Histogram of Blockage times at Plankinton

While the number of Amtrack trains and freight trains seems to be equal. The time blocked by freight trains is substantially more. The typical time that a freight train blocks the intersection is 10 minutes.

Figure 9: Time spent at crossing by blockage time

The good news is that LinqThingz Predictive Mobility can provide an alternate route. The alternate route adds about 1 minute of travel time but can save up to 57 minutes of wait time. For this particular configuration of sensors, the advanced warning time is between 10 and 17 minutes.

Figure 10: Alternate Route Example at Plankinton

Data From Greves

Greves is on the list of top 25 problem crossings in a recent Wisconsin DOT grade crossing report.

Figure 11: Summary Blockage Information at Greves

The histogram at Greves shows that the traffic is almost entirely freight traffic (Canadian Pacific).

Figure 12: Blockage Histogram at Greves

Blockage time is most often less than 10 minutes.

Figure 13: Time Spent at Crossing by Blockage Time

There is an alternate route for Greves/13th street. This alternate route adds about 2 minutes of travel time, but saves up to 42 minutes in wait time.

Figure 14: Alternate Route at 13th or Greves.

The Milwaukee Fire Department will be using LinqThingz’ mobile application for providing fire crews visibility of blocked crossings. This application is available in Android, Apple and Windows OS.