Tackling the problem of traffic congestion in India with smart technologies

As the population of the modern cities is increasing, the vehicular travel is also increasing leading to congestion on roads. The average number of vehicles in India is growing rapidly over the last few years . Spending hours in traffic jam has become part and parcel of metropolitan life style, leading to health and environmental hazards. With the easy availability of finance,the number of vehicles running on our road has increased day by day.Due to this steady increase in the number of automobiles on the road, the importance of managing traffic flow efficiently is important to optimize utilization of existing road capacity.Integrating technology into transportation system can offer a viable solution to this and can help urban planners to reduce traffic congestion in cities to a large extent.

With the technology, transportation system can send right information at right time to traffic planners and commuters. Real-time data available about traffic on roads and congestion helps planners and commuters to react and plan their trips accordingly. Integrating technology into transportation also help in predicting and analyzing the traffic to avoid congestion on the roads. Technology like passenger information systems and GPS monitoring of public transport vehicles also enable commuters to easily switch between two different modes of transport eliminating travel delays. Some of the components of smart traffic management are:

– smart sensors
– CCTVs,Cameras
– Computer Aided Tools
– Technology oriented public transit
– Integrated fare management
– Traffic Equipments
– Smart Phone Apps

Traffic management, Parking Management and Incident Management these must be the three areas to focus while incorporating technology into the transportation system.

Smart Traffic Management:

Traffic analysis and prediction capabilities provides a comprehensive solution for traffic management by reducing traffic loads on roads or redistributing traffic congestion across the network. Inorder to manage traffic movements, cities can incorporate smart sensors, cameras, mobile applications or computer aided decision making tools into the physical infrastructure to acquire relevant mobility data and patterns. These transportation management systems are able to track traffic from source to destination making access to continuously updated information easier.

a)  Real-Time Traffic Updates with Mobile Applications 

Inorder to gather near real-time insights about the prevailing traffic condition and to make travels more efficient the riders make use of social media and installing smart phone apps. Many metropolitan cities are experimenting with the concept to give travelers traffic updates through the smart phones.

b) Computer aided decision making tools

Take the examples of Vehicular Information and Communication System (VICS) and Electronic Toll Collection System (ETCS). They can be used to monitor and predict traffic efficiently.VICS sends road traffic information about congestion to in-built navigation screens in cars throughout the day. Roadside beacons are installed which transmits traffic information to cars commuting from one place to another. ETCS is a wireless toll system where toll is automatically charged to the account as car passes the toll. It was developed as a solution for congestion caused by traffic jams at toll booths. It has been estimated that ETCS can reduce congestion by 30% .

c) Using ICT to support Public transport

Monitoring and predicting traffic patterns helps in managing movement of people around multiple modes of transportation. Multimodal movement improves transportation system by reducing commuting time resulting into customer satisfaction and ridership of public transit systems.

Smart Parking Management

Metropolitan cities in India do not have enough space to accommodate the rising number of vehicles on roads today. The parking space available in most of the urban centers in India is almost half of the parking space needed.Thereby forcing people to park their vehicles on roads in a haphazard manner and restricting the free movement of traffic by occupying almost 40% of the road space.

a) Smart Parking Meters

Smart meters allow more dynamic pricing, offer real-time reporting and efficient parking enforcement. It also provides commuters various options to pay parking charges either directly through cash and credit/debit card or through pay-by-phone apps of smart phones.

b) Smart Sensors for tracking

Smart wireless sensors can be embedded in parking spots which are able to track if parking spot is occupied, empty or expired. Smart sensors consist of magnetic and optical sensors which detect metal masses and become active when the optical one detects a lack of light.

c) Smart Apps for solving parking problems

Smart sensors are usually complemented by mobile applications which notify drivers about the closest available parking spot. Parking applications integrated in smart phones can solve the problem of parking in urban centres. The parking mobile applications not only help in locating the available parking spot but also perform various other functions like sorting parking spots as per price and location or combining pay –by- phone function. Using and analyzing parking data also allows traffic planners to predict parking trends on an hourly or daily basis to provide current and future parking availability in the city. In several cities, parking applications also give them real-time alerts about the happenings
in the vicinity of user’s parked vehicles.

Smart Incident management

Traffic incident management is a way to detect, to respond, to clear traffic incidents and to restore traffic flow as quickly as possible. Accidents on roads lead to congestion and further increase the risk of secondary incidents.

The scope of incident management should not be limited only to manage accidents but also to prevent traffic accidents to happen. Therefore, incident management performs two activities such as averting the incident and reacting to incident with the focus on integrating technology into systems to help commuters avoid traffic incidents.

Technology that sends advance warnings to drivers can be of great help to avert incidents. Creating communication between vehicles and infrastructure, vehicles and pedestrians or amongst vehicles can make driving safe, and easy.

It can be concluded that while Intelligent transportation system (ITS) can provide a great solution for many of the traffic problems in India, the success of the process lies under policies enforcing ITS. Apart from integrating technology, stringent and contemporary policies should be designed and implemented. This can encourage people to adapt technology more holistically.

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By  Ninu Mohan
Marketing Strategist at Keleno

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