The United Nations projects the world population to reach 9.8 billion people in 2050,posing a greater challenges to transportation, especially in urban areas. In cities, mobility is a key concern; while most current traffic management systems are programmed based on historical traffic data and are unable to adapt its timing to irregular events such as unexpected congestion and construction.
One such alternative is Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). According to an article by The Sun in 2015, motorists are expected to access real-time traffic information through ITS in 2020. In Malaysia, such systems have been introduced to through projects like computer controlled traffic signals since the mid-nineties.
ITS is the use of advanced technology including electronics, communications, control and information technology. This sophisticated system could help cities manage traffic flow more efficiently, as its backbone is wireless connectivity throughout the city’s infrastructure. It has been used to reduce congestion, providing real-time information to handle higher demand, improve incident management, and enhance safety through faster emergency response.
It is also used to mitigate environmental impacts through pollution monitoring, disseminating air quality information, and even providing access control to high pollution area. Operating costs could be reduced by increasing daily productivity through automatic vehicle location, computer aided dispatch, weigh-in-motion systems and electronic toll collection. Travellers may also have their experience enhanced through dynamic route guidance, real time public transit information, real time traffic information, and smart card payment systems for public transport.
How Does ITS Work?
In the simplest form, it operates through a collection of data and its conversion into information. Coordination of transportation authorities, operators, and individual travellers are made easier and efficient through intelligent decisions based on real-time information.
A technical system administered by the transportation authority, commonly known as Traffic Management Centre (TMC), collects and analyzes data for further operations and control management of the traffic in real time, followed by providing reliable information to the road users. To further understand the visual above, here are some brief explanation for each process.
Data Collection: Real-time observation and prompt data collection are vital in this process, and they are mainly collected via Automatic Vehicle Identifiers (to obtain vehicle weight), GPS locators (for vehicle location, speed, and travel time), sensors (for traffic count and delays) and camera (for surveillance purpose).
Data Analysis: Specialized software is used to identify and rectify inconsistencies in data collected. After the data is pooled, it goes through further analysis to make predictability of various traffic scenarios.
Data Transmission: Reliable information, resulted from the previous process is then sent back to road users through different network technologies.
Traveller Information: Lastly, road users would be able to access real-time information like travel time, travel speed, delay, accidents on road, change in route, diversions and work zone conditions through their smartphones, tablets or even their in-vehicle system.
Intelligent Traffic System (ITS) does not only consist of one aspect – advanced traffic management, but it also considers other aspects like smart parking management and route planning. By integrating all these features, a more scalable ITS could be achieved, in order to improve interaction among road users, as well as adapt to city’s complex infrastructure.