The Dream of Everyone Who has Experienced a Traffic Jam.
Transport is one of the basic sectors which significantly impact socio-economic development and increase the standard of living. Mobility and its quality are one of the fundamental elements in assessing the standard of living in countries in the European Union. The quality of personal transportation depends to a large degree on the daily needs of the citizens, namely, the degree of access to work, school, shops, as well as access to social care and free-time activities. When it comes to the quality of freight transportation, additional factors include speed, safety, punctuality and on-time delivery.
Accompanying the phenomenon of development over the past several years, across the world and in Slovakia, there has been a rise in road traffic, which has led to a significant negative impact on the environment, traffic congestion in urban areas and a higher number of traffic accidents. With regard to freight transportation, the rise in road traffic has caused a decrease in rail transportation, while in passenger transport there has been a proliferation of cars and a decline in the use of public transportation, rail, buses and intra-city rail.
There are two ways to solve the poor traffic situation and increase the road network’s capacity. The first way is to expand the road infrastructure, the second is the introduction of smart transport systems, which to help transportation performance, transporta-tion safety, and lower congestion on roadways and lower the ecological burden on the environment. Smart transport systems help to utilise the transportation network more effectively by using information, communication and management technologies which are built-in into the vehicle or into the roadway infrastructure. The basis of smart transport systems is information which is to be collected, processed, integrated and distributed.
Traffic Monitoring and Management
The procedures and standards for the accumulation of data on travelling has significantly changed in the last ten years with the introduction of mobile localisation technology. Smart phones have become a popular new platform for GPS. With the growing use of smart phones, which are equipped with a vari-ety of sensors, the collection of data is progressing and can be very useful for traffic pattern analysis. Several interesting pos-sibilities suggest themselves, such as the gathering of more data from residents and visitors to a city with minimal or no need for interaction with the respondent. When it is necessary to have some interaction with the respondent for the collec-tion of data, an application can be developed to address this. The user chooses their route before setting off on their journey (giving us information about what means of transportation is used), and the application used is based on GPS, which allows the collection of data about the beginning of the trip, the route, the end of the trip, speed, delays in certain sections, elevation and much more additional information which can then be used to analyse traffic patterns.
Another way to collect data is using modern Big Data popula-tion analytics. In Slovakia, advanced intelligent systems already exist, developed in conjunction with the telecommunications operators. These systems enable the analysis of the popula-tion’s movement by means of SIM cards in mobile telephones. It is a new way to use anonymised Big Data for better planning in government, local government, and private companies. With the help of Big Data, telecommunications operators provide geolocational analysis to determine the numbers and grouping of inhabitants, initial studies for the optimisation of urban in-frastructure and traffic, tools for urban marketing and surveys, and they also provide a rapid communications channel for alerts and notifications.
Data acquired from the population’s mobile telephones can provide information about the real state of the population and the dynamics of its movement in any part of Slovakia. Understanding the real-time movement of a population is the key for investigating its traffic patterns, and for the construction of modern cities, or Smart Cities. Communities and cities must have a more accurate idea of their citizenry if they want to plan and allocate new road infrastructure, as well as to optimise for the conditions on the existing infrastructure. With the assis-tance of innovative tools already in place, we can significantly increase the quality of traditional methods of data collection, which of course can help local councils develop cities that would significantly improve quality of life for its populace. The main advantages of monitoring intersections, or sections of road infrastructure in the city:
- Provides an overview of the current state of traffic on the road infrastructure being monitored and compare it to the expected state
- Offers input at the strategic level for traffic management
- Supplies input for traffic planning
- Offers input for third-party systems
- Provides input for distributing traffic information to the public at large
Data collection for the purpose of improving traffic can be performed in several ways. In addition to the above-mentioned use of data from mobile telephone users, traditional methods such as detectors and cameras can also be used. This data provides monitored information about vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians in parts of the city. Monitoring and counting traffic without interference to the roadway can be arranged using high-quality cameras and traffic radars. Of course, in addition to the vehicle count, these technologies can acquire needed information about the speed, length, category, gaps between vehicles, routes, movement through intersections, delays and even the distribution between individual lanes of traffic. Traffic data can be acquired and provided for customers in real time, or to use video camera recordings which can be analysed later based on customer requirements.
Monitoring vehicles at intersections serves to aid detection of movement through the intersections and to determine the intensity of the traffic in a given direction across measured time intervals. The monitoring record is broken down into short time periods so that it can be evaluated to obtain peak values. The accuracy of defining peak traffic depends on the selection of the time interval. Based on the results of traffic monitoring at intersections, it is possible to reliably determine the number of lanes required, their length from the viewpoint of safety, and their capacity. On the basis of the data gleaned, we can also deduce prospective needs (selecting the type of inter-section, determining the level of transportation quality, etc.) The extent of processing the results from traffic monitoring at intersections depends on the requirements of the end user and their use of this output. The results can be in tabular or graphic form, and while there are various predefined reports available, the customer can custom select individual parts of a report.
Traffic Analysis and Modelling
Traffic data can be acquired and conveyed to the customer in real time (for example, the need for dynamic intersection man-agement) or it is possible to utilise video camera recordings which can later be analysed according to the customer’s needs. Traditional methods of collecting and evaluating data are often time consuming, expensive, or unreliable. Offering the end user advanced data analysis then becomes a very convenient solution for visualisation and managerial reporting on the basis of video recordings from any cameras, or city camera systems that are subject to certain conditions. Data analysis simplifies, organises, and transforms data into forms that can provide a great deal of complex information.
A preview of the collected data and analysis of the results can be obtained in a clear graphical browser. This web tool provides information from the traffic database in a user-friendly fashion and has a number of default reports (for example, the compo-sition of traffic flow or the tracking of traffic intensity during slow periods).
The purpose of traffic management is to ensure the efficient operation of intersections, roads, and motorways. This can be achieved by providing useful information to road users (such as real time traffic information and traffic density forecasts) and the introduction of smart systems that improve the efficient use of intersections and roads and reduce the negative impact of traffic accidents, traffic congestion, etc.
The traffic management system helps users at traffic manage-ment sites carry out traffic management tasks and offers func-tional control of road systems. The system collects real-time data from all existing road systems, and presents it to users in different views. This information can be used in the system for various traffic management activities, for example, for sending relevant route information to electronic panels, alerting drivers about various matters such as traffic jams and other unusual events, analysing the activities of traffic light signalling systems at intersections and their dynamic management, or analysing the activities of the safety systems at rail-way crossings.
Low-Emission Zone Entry Control System
The Ministry of the Environment has stated that the amount of emissions of harmful substances released by traffic has doubled in Slovakia since 1990. From November 2017, an amendment to the Air Protection law entered into force to authorise villages and cities to establish Low Emission Zones (LEZs). The objective of these zones is to maintain or possibly improve air quality in our country. Fine particulate matter and other pollutants are detrimental to the environment and to the quality of life of people in urban areas.
Traffic is one of the chief producers of emissions and there-fore within the available platforms there are a solutions or control systems banning entry to low emission zones, and to areas where entry is not allowed depending on the category of the emission class of the vehicle. The smart camera system for recognising vehicle registration numbers has an accuracy of 99.99 %, and can automatically generate a certified viola-tion report for the authorities, including images as sufficient evidence. Services are flexible, and depending on customer requirements the cameras can be installed on existing masts, public lighting columns, etc. The device is multipurpose, and can also be used for traffic monitoring to collect and provide information on the development of mobility in the area.
Smart Public Transportation
Important elements of public transportation are the modern information systems which serve to improve the accessibility of information for passengers. Dynamic bus stations prevent overloading, and improve the flow of passengers at stations and terminals in city centres. Travel information systems provide passengers with up-to-date information and fore-casts via dynamic panels. The bus is recorded entering the bus station, and assigned to a specific platform. Assigning buses to available platforms in a smart way ensures the optimal use of the bus station, so less space is needed.
Passengers and drivers are continuously informed about the platforms to which “their” buses are assigned via dynamic information panels. Higher convenience for passengers can be ensured by using smart bus or railway stops. The individual stop modules can be set according to customer requirements and can include the following functionalities:
- Ticket vending machines
- Self-service pick-up point for mail (package dispens-ing machine)
- Passenger information panels
- CCTV, SOS, and pedestrian counting
- Wi-Fi connection and USB charging
- Heated seats and air conditioning
- Solar panels, air quality monitoring
Winter Maintenance of Roads and Pavements
As a result of the amendments to the Road Act and the Oper-ations of Vehicles in Road Traffic Act, which entered into force on 20 May 2018, the obligation of property owners to remedy the obstruction of pavements adjacent to their property if these defects are caused by pollution, ice or snow, was abol-ished. According to the new regulations, the obligation falls to the municipal roads administration. This change in legislation alone can cause a significant increase in costs to the city for winter maintenance of roads and pavements. The winter road and pavement maintenance system offers city and winter maintenance dispatchers an excellent tool with a user-friendly graphical interface for:
- Situation prediction +24 hours (what is expected, how many employees and what resources will be needed) Maintenance plan +24 hours for specific vehicles and employees (who will do what, how, and when) with optimisation of the service vehicle route
- Sector status display with basic information: requires / does not require maintenance; if so, the recom-mended maintenance method is provided
Alarms – assessment of the immediate need for maintenance
Free Flowing City Traffic is Not a Utopia
Based on what has been discussed, it is obvious that the traffic situation in cities – however dissatisfactory it may be now, can be solved and that the solution can be comprehensive. Many communities and cities have been building bypasses as the only way to lighten traffic in their city centres. Smart solutions, which the market already offers, can bring about remedies in a much shorter time horizon and at a fraction of the invest-ment. This should also be considered by those who have taken over the leadership of a local council.
Milan Veterník, CitySys