To better control the flow of traffic on highways, authorities turn to highway traffic management systems (HTMS), which require various components to work well.
To better control the flow of traffic on highways
, authorities turn to highway traffic management systems (HTMS), which require various components to work well.
In simplest terms, an HTMS includes various roadside sensors
that generate data, which is then fed into and processed at the traffic monitoring center. The resulting actionable insights can be of use to both operators and drivers, who can be advised through variable message signs, FM radio as well as smartphone text messages.
In terms of sensors, they are quite diverse and wide-ranging. “There are some fundamental components in a comprehensive HTMS which include cameras, various sensors including LiDar, radar, ALPR (automated license plate readers) as well as weather and environmental sensors. These edge devices represent the starting point of data intake to the system, but are critical to monitoring, validation and real-time decision making while also supporting long term planning efforts,” said Christian Chenard-Lemire, Team Lead for Intelligent Transport Systems at Genetec
. “Video analytics software can add value to camera feeds captured on the system to help automate detection of incidents and issues and help trigger tasks to respond to them. Additional roadside sensors for travel time are also worthwhile to detect slowdowns in the flow of traffic.”
In the future, when the so-called V2X
technology becomes more mature, data will be generated by the vehicles themselves. “We do believe that in the future more and more roadside sensors will actually be replaced by in-vehicle sensing and location information as well as a continuation to provide traveler information more and more via on-board equipment or smart phones,” said Joerg “Nu” Rosenbohm, Global Solutions Expert at Kapsch TrafficCom
Traffic monitoring center
The TMC is the place where the data is ingested and turned into meaningful insights to help operators make real-time decisions. “A capable advanced traffic management system software is essential to a) provide a situational awareness tool that can be accessed by all affected agencies, b) provide a common congestion, incident and special event response tool, and c) provide effective and (near) real-time traveler information and detour/trip delay recommendations,” Rosenbohm said. “Similarly, simulation/modelling software are powerful tools and are in many cases a potentially good addition to a TMC too.”
“A core software platform that can deliver all this functionality and allow operators to make faster and better decisions is required in modern control centers,” Chenard-Lemire said. “For example, if a slowdown is detected on the highway, and a perimeter alarm is triggered on the entrance of a tunnel, operators can be automatically notified of an incident. With the right software, operator time can be optimized to proactively address issues before they occur or respond more quickly to problems when they arise to keep traffic moving safely.”
The output of an HTMS should also not be ignored. From text messages to variable message signs (VMS), these inform drivers of the latest highway traffic situation and the options available. “In the case of sudden gridlock, (variable message signs) can be used to direct drivers to more efficient routes. In the case of natural disasters or major emergencies, like the wildfires we have seen in California and Australia for example, they can direct people away from dangerous areas to safety and promote the evacuation process,” Chenard-Lemire said.
“En-route traveler information is highly important (but not just via VMSs, but also mobile apps, in-vehicle apps, regular FM Radio broadcasts). However, output devices cannot just be limited to the traveling public but must also include other agency stakeholders if their operations are affected by congestion, incidents and/or special events,” Rosenbohm said. “Additionally, pre-trip information is equally important to keep ‘near-future’ trip goers from entering areas that are already congested. We expect that more and more of this information will be provided to and be displayed on in-vehicle displays.”