Smart Transport Systems: An Intro
Did you arrive to work on time today? In large cities, transport is becoming a growing challenge, both for commuters and for city officials who want to improve efficiency, reduce pollution and reduce frustration for drivers and commuters. Smart transport systems use new technologies to manage and respond to traffic conditions.
In this article you will learn:
- What is an Intelligent Transport System (ITS)
- Key applications of Intelligent Transport System
- How smart transport systems work
- How smart traffic infrastructure is the future of mobility
Every city needs an effective transportation and mobility system, and in smart cities, this takes the shape of an Intelligent Transportation System (ITS).
The scope of ITS includes traffic and mobility management, managing movement of vehicles and assisting drivers, enhancing transport infrastructure, and providing improved interfaces for transport systems. ITS is a growing market, valued at $20 billion worldwide in 2015 and expected to more than double itself by 2024 (according to Grand View Research).
ITS is used in car parks, traffic lights, toll booths, bridges, and roads; and is used to create interconnected transportation systems with open communication between devices and vehicles. ITS can actively manage traffic so it flows smoothly and public transport arrives as scheduled.
ITS ensures citizens have access to realtime information about traffic and public transportation conditions. This reduces travel time for commuters and makes traveling throughout the city easier, safer and more comfortable.
ITS applications leverage information from sensors, including GPS devices and road cameras. Below are 5 key applications smart cities are implementing as part of their ITS systems.
1. Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS)
ATMS manages traffic by integrating information from different sources, such as traffic lights, toll booths, and car parks. These sources provide updated information about the current status of traffic.
ATMS promotes the smooth running of traffic, which helps lower a city’s emission levels. ATMS actively controls traffic and provides guidance to drivers for a safer, faster driving experience.
To help control traffic and improve efficiency, ATMS can:
- Adjust traffic lights and other signals in real time—shifting traffic away from congested roads and onto roads free of traffic.
- Dynamically adjust rates on toll roads—to deter drivers from using private vehicles and encourage the use of public transportation.
- Provide traffic information—alert drivers of available parking spaces, reducing congestion and the time spent searching for a parking space.
2. Advanced Vehicle Control and Safety System (AVCSS)
AVCSS are based on sensors installed in vehicles. They present drivers with visual alerts and information about dangerous situations. Until the time comes when vehicles are completely autonomous, AVCSS can provide automation that augments and assists human driving.
AVCSS-equipped vehicles can be considered a Level 1 autonomous vehicle. The SAE J3016_201401 standard defines 5 levels of autonomous vehicles, where Level 0 is a vehicle with no automation, and Level 5 is fully automated, able to drive under all roadway and environmental conditions without a human driver.
To promote safe driving, AVCSS can:
- Automatically control a vehicle, preventing or minimizing human driving errors
- Help drivers avoid or quickly react to hazardous conditions
- Provide cruise control, lane keeping and parking assistance
3. Advanced Public Transportation System (APTS)
APTS grants citizens with access to information about buses, including seat availability, location, and estimated time of arrival. It makes paying easier and more flexible by allowing the use of mobile tickets or Near Field Communication (NFC) to pay for multiple transportation methods. The system can also make dynamic decisions—for example, delaying buses running ahead of schedule.
To improve the safety of public transportation riders APTS uses:
- Real time passenger information systems
- Automatic vehicle location systems
- Bus arrival notification systems
- Systems providing priority to buses at intersections
4. Commercial Vehicle Operation (CVO)
In CVO the apps mentioned above are used for commercial vehicles, including buses, ambulances, trucks, and taxis. CVO methods include automatic vehicle monitoring. This system is an electronic component used to track performance and driving behavior. This is important since bad behavior on the road can result in accidents etc.
Another system is fleet management, which allows for better management of commercial fleets like GPS tracking devices. Using the gathered data, an organization can monitor its fleet to reduce costs. It can achieve this by tracking fuel consumption, checking driver’s compliance with routes and protocols, analyzing operating costs etc.
These methods are used to promote communication between regulatory agencies and drivers, reduce operational costs and enable the efficient transfer of services and goods.
Other components of CVO include:
- Freight administration
- Commercial vehicle administrative processes
- Weigh-In-Motion (WIM)
- Roadside CVO safety
- On-board safety monitoring
- Hazardous material planning and incident response
An ITS uses the following guiding principles:
1. Traffic data collection
All ITS apps rely on data collection. Sensors and distributed devices gather information in real time, including the location and speed of vehicles, schedule delays, and traffic conditions.
Some of the devices used for data collection are:
- GPS devices
- Road cameras
- Vehicle identifiers
2. Data transmission
Data collected is transmitted from sensors to a management center. At the management center, this data is analyzed and forwarded to applications. Relevant information is then distributed to citizens.
3. Traffic Data Analysis
In the management center, data is cleaned and customized for further analysis. It is pooled so appropriate conclusions and predictions can be made, and then sent to end-user interfaces.
4. Traveler Information
Traveler information is data made available for use by citizens. It can be accessed via media, including radio, Internet, and SMS. This data informs citizens of current traffic conditions, delays, situations on the road, travel speed, etc.
An intelligent transportation system uses technology to improve traffic flow. A smart network of interconnected sensors and smart devices can pave the way to a more sustainable, efficient and robust city center.
ITS is setting the ground for a future city which can be traversed quickly using a mix of traditional and new public transport options. ITS systems, when fully implemented and broadly used by consumers, can optimize transport flow to a point where private cars will not be needed, and the need for parking space and multi-lane roads will be dramatically reduced. Roads full of cars, gas fumes and congestion may be a thing of the past.