The Next Level of Advanced Traffic Management Systems
At a time when cities across the globe are brainstorming innovative ideas and technologies to emerge as Smart Cities, strong emphasis needs to be laid on traffic management systems as well. In this regard, organizations active in the Smart Cities market have devised myriad products which enable monitoring, control and operations of city traffic in an optimized, integrated and intelligent manner.
Traffic violation and incident detection, vehicle counters, and classifiers are just a few of them. These systems are further monitored and controlled through a centralized platform, which acts as the nerve centre of the city. Collectively, these systems form what is known as an Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS).
Even though ATMS enable efficient traffic management of any city, there are certain risks associated with this approach as well. For example, there are chances that the field ATMS equipment may get damaged or tampered with- either by human activity or from natural events such as storms or earthquakes. These events may also result in the producing inaccurate records, leading to errors while reducing the efficiency of the ATMS at the same time. Such things also lead to increased operational costs for the city’s traffic department, gradually turning the ATMS technology from boon to bane.
One plausible option to overcome this problem is to deploy emerging technology options like augmented reality (AR) in managing the traffic movements across the city. AR has witnessed rapid growth in present time and is continuously breaking new grounds in a variety of sectors.
Regarding traffic management systems, AR can be used to avoid road accidents while surveying the traffic conditions subsequently. This idea can be turned into reality by means of AR Head-Up Displays (HUD). To implement this approach, all we need is cooperation from the citizens. The statement can be better understood from the example below:
Consider a person who is driving a car, wearing the AR HUD device. One of the challenges which the driver might face is the need to change lanes to pass the car in front of it. The challenge attains critical significance when a larger vehicle, such as a truck, is driving in front of the car. In these situations, the software programmed into the HUD shall enable the driver to see thermal imagery of the vehicle(s) moving ahead. By using appropriate technology, the thermal imagery can be visualized either on the HUD glasses or any screen installed within the car.
The thermal imagery shall further help the driver in deciding whether to change lanes, hence avoiding any plausible road accident. They may even be programmed to send snapshots of thermal imagery obtained by a specific HUD device may even be sent to the Traffic Management Centre (TMC) by equipping the HUD device with GPS or similar device.
This approach shall also transmit the position of HUD displays in real-time to the TMC, which shall determine traffic conditions by calculating the time for which a specific HUD display is transmitting its location. As a next step, all such HUD devices transmitting their location will further be mapped on a GIS map of the city. It may also be able to access the images received from the HUD device for monitoring purposes. If the transmission time exceeds the normal level, the particular stretch of road shall be marked with different color showcasing traffic congestion. Hence, the TMC may then initiate relevant actions to restore normal traffic conditions, proving the proactive functioning of the entire system.
Similar research activities has been done in this regard by Lotfi Abdi. The solution proposed herein is an advancement of the referred work, and has two major advantages in its name. Firstly, this approach intends to make urban mobility and transit a pleasant and comfortable experience for the citizens. Another major advantage of this approach is that it will prove to be highly cost effective for the relevant authorities, thereby redefining traffic management the ‘mobile’ way.
Lead image by Touring Club Suisse/Schweiz/Svizzero TCS from Flickr