Smart Transportation

Traffic Management Systems: Optimizing Traffic With Existing Infrastructure

Traffic congestion and motor accidents are key concerns in the daily life of citizens and travelers. Traffic jams are frustrating; road congestion can prompt honking, aggression, and even accidents as impatient drivers try to force their way through. Can an integrated information system improve travel experience and smooth the flow of traffic without a major investment in roads?

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What Is An Advanced Traffic Management System?

Advanced Traffic Management Systems (ATMS), which evolved from the field of the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), stream real-time transport data from the entire traffic infrastructure into one Transportation Management Center (TMC). The TMC processes the data and takes intelligent actions that increase transport efficiency, mediate traffic congestion, and improve safety.


Why Are Advanced Traffic Management Systems Important For Smart Cties?

The primary purpose of a smart city is to improve the quality and performance of public services, including transportation, by incorporating information and communication technologies. Smart cities cannot be smart without advanced traffic management systems, which help monitor, control, optimize, and operate traffic in urban areas.

The advanced traffic management system encompasses systems such as traffic violation reporting, incident detection, vehicle counters, and classifiers. All these stream live data into a Transportation Management Center (TMC), allowing transport officials and consumers to receive real-time updates about the city’s transport conditions and availability. The TMC acts as the control room for smart city transport.


ATMS Functional Areas

An ATMS has several operational roles, including monitoring traffic in real time, analyzing video footage of traffic, and actively managing traffic.

Real-Time Traffic Monitoring

  • Live public transport updates: Advanced traffic management systems give the public the power to monitor public transportation. With GPS installed on buses and trains, travelers can tell when their next ride will arrive.
  • Re-routing: With the aid of advanced traffic management systems and sensors embedded in roads, drivers gain access to accurate route conditions—information they can use to avoid traffic jams.
  • Prompt response by authorities: A smart transportation management center, powered by advanced traffic management systems, gives authorities access to the information needed to shorten the response time of police and emergency teams to incidents.   
  • Traffic safety and control: IoT applications integrate into advanced traffic management systems. Transportation management systems can, for example, reduce congestion and prevent accidents by controlling traffic lights.
  • Transparency: Data from advanced traffic management systems can promote efficiency in daily transport operations, optimize mobility routes, and help develop new traffic applications.

Video analytics in traffic management
Advanced traffic management systems stream a live video feed from all major roads into the TMC. The data can be stored and used for:

  • Predictive optimization of traffic
  • Detecting traffic jams and taking action to release them
  • Detecting and counting vehicles and pedestrians
  • Evidence in accidents or traffic law violations.

All insights can be used directly by city officials, and serve as additional data to enable predictive AI modeling.

Active Traffic Management
Active Traffic Management (ATM) is a control system enabling cities to adjust the flow of traffic as needed. ATM can influence travel behavior by responding to current demand, or by regulating the entire traffic system to reduce congestion and improve safety.

Key systems that can be controlled and monitored by ATM:

  • Dynamic message signs: Electronic signs used on roadways to alert commuters to accidents, road congestion, terrorist attacks, and other information related to traffic conditions. When controlled by ATM, dynamic message signs can re-route traffic, limit travel speed, and help cars find available parking lots.
  • Ramp meters: ATM helps control and manage the flow of vehicles allowed access to the freeway through ramp meters. Monitoring on-ramp traffic signals enable real-time optimization of freeway congestion.
  • Traffic lights:  ATM systems can monitor traffic and use accumulated data to predict vehicle arrival patterns as they approach traffic lights and intersections, and adjust traffic light signals accordingly.
  • Road Weather Information System (RWIS): Acts as the central database into which all weather information streams from road weather systems (RWS). Road weather systems collect data from road sensors, meteorological sensors, solar radiation sensors, and digital cameras. The RWIS helps turn this data into weather insights that help save maintenance costs, reduce pollution, and create safer roads.
  • Highway advisory radio: Traffic information gathered by licensed AM radio stations can be streamed into the ATM. Official bodies—transport officials, airports, government departments, parks, colleges, and events and destination—frequently inform the public of local travel conditions and warn them of dangers. This data can be gathered systematically via radio stations and integrated into the traffic management system.

Examples Of ATMS Systems

IRIS Open-Source ATMS Project
IRIS (Intelligent Roadway Information System) is an open source traffic management system for transportation agencies, with an easy map-based interface. IRIS helps monitor and control variable speed limits, performs active traffic management and lane control, can detect congestion, automatically warns vehicles about dangers, provides a ramp meter to help control highway congestion, and supports streaming of video from traffic cameras.
Georgia Navigator
The Georgia Navigator is a traffic management system used to regulate traffic in Atlanta and several other areas in the US state of Georgia. The system uses traffic cameras, ramp meters, and a traffic speed sensor system to accumulate traffic data. Traffic insights are then distributed through dynamic message signs and sold to media outlets such as the weather channel.

Kimley-Horn Integrated Transportation System (KITS)
KITS is a commercial traffic management system that can manage the priority of transit options and manage congestion. It provides CCTV control for traffic monitoring, which can be configured to detect problems as they happen and send alerts to all relevant personnel. KITS provides one interface that controls all ITS devices and applications, which can be accessed from personal computers or mobile devices.


Advanced Traffic Management Systems In Your City

Advanced traffic management systems are broadly deployed mature technology. They are an essential complement to urban renewal and road expansion projects. In many cases, investments in carefully managed smart traffic projects can have a larger return than new road infrastructure.

City administrators should prioritize smart traffic technology and make sure they have exercised this avenue for reducing congestion, before embarking on long, complex road expansion projects.