The roads that have remained vastly deserted over the last two years are now seeing chockablock traffic jams, necessitating the need for smarter mobility solutions.
COVID-19 prompted an exodus from cities. But now, as concerns about the pandemic appear to ease, people are flocking back to urban life. Reports from across the world have shown that the biggest cities are where everyone wants to be. In the UK, for instance, it’s London and Manchester, according to Sky News. Bloomberg says more people are getting back to New York in the US.
All this brings more challenges to urban planners and authorities as they must ensure the infrastructure and facilities are ready to handle the increased numbers of people. Perhaps most significantly, the roads that have remained vastly deserted over the last two years are now seeing chockablock traffic jams, necessitating the need for smarter mobility solutions.
Then there is another. In a recent blog post
, Andreas Gorensson, Global Marketing Manager at Axis Communications, pointed out that as people return, it is also important to note that the mobility preferences of people are also changing. If bikes were popular once, e-bikes are gathering momentum now. Knowing these changes and making suitable facilities is essential.
Video surveillance technology, powered by AI-enabled algorithms, can play an essential role in solving this problem.
Traffic management is one of the critical areas where video technology can help. Many cities are already working with intelligent traffic light management systems. Integrating surveillance cameras with smart software with the lights can help authorities better understand the flow of pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles across the intersection. The traffic statistics are used in real-time to operate and optimize the intersection traffic controller for the most optimal and safe traffic light cycles.
“One of the most important factors which contribute to a great city experience is the way that you move from point A to B in the city landscape – whether on foot, bicycle, e-scooter or vehicle,” Gorensson said. “Sometimes it feels like a lottery win when you catch the green wave or when you find the perfect parking space on the first try. And when you experience the opposite and run late for a meeting or to pick up your kids, it affects your mood for the rest of the day.”
Another critical factor that decides smooth traffic in cities is parking management. Often drivers looking for parking spaces are the reason for a lot of congestion. With network cameras, authorities can inform drivers of parking spaces and avoid this problem.
“Network camera solutions can be used to monitor free parking lots and provide information to navigation applications or digital signage to help drivers find parking spaces,” Gorensson said. “Further efficiencies can be achieved within the parking areas by implementing automation. With license plate recognition, you can make access to parking spaces frictionless and payment automated, thereby also improving the driver’s experience and vehicle flow.”
Network video surveillance solutions allow authorities to make use of a license-plate recognition system. There are many advantages to ANPR, but specifically, in traffic management, it helps to ease congestion at access control.
The Indian government, for instance, is planning to use ANPR to get rid of toll booths on highways. So far, toll collection on highways has been done through RFID tags, which require the cars to stop in front of a camera before a boom bar opens and lets the vehicle proceed. With ANPR, this operation could get smoother.
While traffic management is the first concern when it comes to dealing with city congestion, controlling crowds has become a priority in recent times. For health as well as security reasons, knowing the number of people, ensuring proper flow of people, and having real-time situational awareness is critical.
This is especially important in places like stadiums, transit stations, and other areas of public gatherings. As the pandemic abates, many events return to what they were - offline and crowded. Network video surveillance systems with analytics can track people, social distancing, suspicious behavior, etc., in real-time, allowing security teams to maintain complete control over any situation.
Network video surveillance solutions are an essential tool for city traffic and mobility management. Analytic systems are advancing daily, with more capabilities added and accuracy levels improving. As cities become increasingly crowded, video-based solutions will become necessary.