With the growing number of vehicles leading to increased road congestion, the development of high capacity, energy-efficient transport systems has become a top priority. Today, technology plays a key role in ensuring safety, increasing productivity, improving customer relations and promoting smoother operations. A key technological tool for enhancing sustainability in this sector is the use of intelligent transportation systems (ITS). The use of ITS involves combining various information and communication technologies, such as real-time operating systems for up-to-date passenger information, sensing technologies including radio frequency identification (RFID) for fast and convenient toll collection, and wireless communication for signalling and train control.
ITS applications, for fare collection and signalling in particular, have become popular with transport operators and authorities. Under the system, a number of advanced technologies and solutions are being adopted for the efficient utilisation of infrastructure such as roads, highways, bus rapid transit systems and metro rail systems. Accurate and up-to-date databases are being created to provide real-time information on arrival and departure, parking availability, and traffic pattern and congestion. Besides, advanced tools to track vehicles are also being deployed to improve productivity and service quality.
Market size and growth drivers
As per industry estimates, the global ITS market, in terms of value, was estimated at $35 billion in 2016 and is expected to grow to $57 billion by 2022. The rapid growth of this segment can be attributed to the increased adoption of ITS in emerging markets such as India, China, Brazil, South Africa and Russia.
Developments in ITS are primarily driven by factors such as rapid increases in urban population and the consequent increase in the number of vehicles with the ensuing traffic congestion. Other factors such as environmental concerns, a diverse range of vehicles, the poor enforcement of traffic rules, high population density, and the need for optimising fuel consumption and minimising carbon emissions are also driving the demand for ITS.
Current status of ITS deployment
At present, barring a few exceptions such as Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Surat, most Indian cities lack advanced systems for traffic management. In the absence of a reliable management system, traffic movements and speeds are not tracked; the departure and arrival times of buses/trains cannot be predicted, especially during peak hours; there are issues of persisting traffic congestion on roads and highways; and traffic rule violations are rampant. Even cities that do have modern traffic management solutions and GPS-based tracking devices are constrained by limited coverage, which varies widely from city to city.
Some successful initiatives in the ITS segment include camera-based traffic sensors and a cloud-based traffic control centre deployed in Ahmedabad, a traffic management centre in Bengaluru, an automatic number plate recognition and e-challan picture intelligence unit (involving integrated facial recognition) installed in Surat, and a mobility control centre and traffic status monitoring system in Mumbai.
Other ongoing and upcoming initiatives comprise the deployment of a real-time traffic management system in Hyderabad, a traffic surveillance system with red light violation and high speed detection technologies in Jaipur, an integrated traffic command and control centre in Kochi, and integrated ITS (smart traffic signals, control room, cloud database, etc.) at the Genpact crossing on the Golf Course Road, Ghata Crossing and Kachra Chowk on the Gurgaon-Faridabad road.
The road ahead
The rapid growth in population, combined with increasing traffic congestion, is expected to drive the market for ITS deployment in the country. Sensing the need for providing more efficient transportation, most cities have launched projects to incorporate advanced traffic management technologies including near-field communication-based technology for ticketing, RFID and GSM technology for toll collection, driverless metro systems, and interactive passenger information systems. Further, initiatives are being undertaken to deploy advanced fleet management and vehicle tracking systems to provide real-time information on departure and arrival times to passengers.
As most cities strive to improve the quality of transportation services, more advanced traffic management systems will likely be introduced to provide efficient, low-cost operations. In the long run, these initiatives are expected to strengthen public transport systems, improve the quality of roads and highways, enhance the efficiency of services, and attract more passengers.