Can intelligent transportation systems solve India’s traffic congestion problems?

September 17, 2014

In 2012, an IIM-Transport Corporation of India study revealed that India loses Rs 60,000 crore a year due to congestion. For most citizens, traffic congestion and unpredictable travel-time delays are problems that is already factored in their daily lives.  Can technology help in clearing traffic congestion? In India, a first step for testing whether technology can help in clearing congestion is being tried out in the city of Ahmedabad by a company called Zero-Sum ITS.  Once implemented, this solution will be showcased as a mechanism of using technology to aid in decongesting traffic conditions in other cities. Understanding that the high cost of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) undermines its importance, the firm has customized the solution to best suit Indian conditions. The ITS solution uses a hybrid model of gathering vehicle information on the roads from camera based traffic sensors and GPS information from vehicles.  The collected traffic information is sent to a cloud based control center which then analyses the gathered traffic information to understand the traffic flow and congested areas in the target area. The ITS solution then displays the processed information onto huge electronic information boards that are placed approximately 200 meters before every traffic light. This information will aid motorists in making a decision on which roads to avoid and taking up alternate routes to reach their destination. A cloud-based control center negates the need for having to setup up a physical control center with manned personnel and manual intervention through a tablet computing device. This enables the police to control the solution in case of an emergency from any location within the city.   “The key goal of the ITS solution being implemented by Zero-Sum is to ensure better traffic management by providing more information to road users and enabling them to plan their trips optimally thereby reducing travel time, saving fuel and decongesting busy roads,” says Chikara Kikuji, Managing Director, Zero Sum ITS.  Key components of the traffic management solution Based on a traffic study undertaken by Zero-Sum in cooperation with the Ahmedabad Traffic Police and Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, Zero-Sum will install ten camera based traffic sensors across various locations on 132 Feet Ring Road of Ahmedabad. These sensors will gather information on the traffic flow including speed, density, vehicle classification and send the information to a cloud based traffic control center. This center will receive the information from the traffic sensors and the traffic police will process the information that needs to be shared with the public regarding the traffic jams in the city. This center will not require any physical space to be setup thereby eliminating the need of having to allocate space inside the Ahmedabad police station for the hosting of the ITS solution. The solution will be hosted through a cloud data center and therefore no physical set-up is required in Ahmedabad. The ITS setup will include setting up of four electronic information boards across key road junctions in Ahmedabad. These information boards will receive what information is to be displayed from the traffic control center and will display to the public which roads are congested and the de-tour route to take so as to avoid entering into the traffic jam or congested areas. For the dual purpose of providing real time traffic updates and gathering traffic information, mobile phone users in Ahmedabad city will be provided mobile applications that can be downloaded free of cost. This application will also have useful information such as city map, important POI (Point of Interest) locations such as gas stations, shopping malls and restaurants. As part of the ITS trial solution, five tablet computing devices will be made available to key personnel of Ahmedabad Traffic Police allowing them to control what information needs to be shown on each of the Electronic Information boards. Therefore, in an emergency, the traffic personnel can operate the solution from anywhere across the city. The entire cost of the ITS solution, its implementation, training and maintenance will be borne by Zero-Sum with no cost being charged to the local Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation or Traffic police. Zero-Sum will monetize the solution by using 50 percent screen space of the Electronic Information Board to display commercial advertisements. These advertisements will not be shown during any emergency and the advertisements shown will only be static advertisements without any video content so that motorists are not distracted. The system can easily expanded for implementation across an entire city and can integrate with other traffic management/ enforcement systems including parking systems, disaster management and weather systems. Beyond traffic management If used intelligently, the system can greatly help in detecting incidents – by pinpointing locations of accidents or vehicle breakdowns. This is extremely important in handling emergency situations.  The ITS solution can also help in classifying vehicles, which in turn helps in planning the road width and the space of the pavement.The same solution can be effectively used for monitoring pollution and road quality. Once the foundation for intelligent transportation systems is laid, the same can be extended for further benefits such as traveler information, road management, public transport management and incident and hazard response.

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  1. click here to find out more on September 18th, 2014 11:29 am

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    Can intelligent transportation systems solve India’s traffic congestion problems? : Indian Tollways…

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