An efficient transportation system is one of the key attributes of a smart city. However, increasing traffic on roads is hampering smooth mobility and transportation across Indian cities. To overcome these challenges, intelligent information and communications technology (ICT)-based solutions are proving to be extremely useful. Under the Smart Cities Mission (SCM), several cities such as Bhopal, Bhubaneswar and Nagpur have taken initiatives for the deployment of intelligent traffic management systems (ITMS) and adaptive traffic control systems (ATCS) to effectively
manage traffic flow. As part of these initiatives, automatic sensors, CCTV cameras, red-light violation detection (RLVD) systems and other internet of things-enabled solutions have been deployed at several intersections. These enable traffic departments to monitor traffic on a real-time basis, thereby eliminating the need for the physical presence of police personnel. Besides, city traffic departments have reaped other benefits through these interventions as they have helped ensure traffic discipline.
Smart traffic management is one of the key interventions proposed under the SCM to improve the traffic situation. Several cities have introduced smart traffic solutions such as ITMS and ATCS to optimise traffic flow and detect violators. One such city is Bhopal where an ITMS has been deployed in association with the city’s traffic police department. The ICT-based system offers a dashboard through which the traffic department is able to detect red light violators, vehicle overspeeding, and lack of helmets and triple-riding cases on two-wheelers. To get live feeds, surveillance cameras and automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras have been installed at many intersections and smart poles. These ANPR cameras are equipped with optical character recognition technology through which images of number plates of traffic violators are captured. Further, information about the violators is transmitted to an integrated control and command centre (ICCC) from where the traffic police can monitor and control traffic on a real-time basis. The system also offers the facility of generating electronic challans (e-challans) for traffic violators with a provision of payment of the penalty through an online portal. Currently, about 2,000 challans are generated every day in the city with the help of the system.
Nagpur has also implemented a similar system to tackle its increasing traffic load. About 4,000 CCTV cameras have been installed in the city with other ICT devices such as ANPR and RLVD systems to detect traffic violators.
In June 2018, Bhubaneswar inaugurated the adaptive traffic management system. As part of the system, CCTV cameras and sensors have been deployed at 50 intersections across the city. The system not only helps in collecting traffic data on a real-time basis but also optimises signal timings. This means that instead of having a fixed waiting time at the signal, the adaptive traffic system predicts traffic flow through the sensors and adjusts the waiting timing according to the traffic flow. Traffic is monitored through a massive video wall installed at the ICCC which receives live feeds and information through the sensors.
Surat has also executed a safe city project under which smart traffic management systems have been deployed. Chennai too has unveiled plans to implement a similar system and is planning to conduct a study across 385 junctions in the city. Initially, the system will be installed at the 159 busiest junctions and the Chennai traffic information centre will be located at the police headquarters from where all the traffic signals will be monitored. The city’s public transport system will also be strengthened using digital signboards which will be placed at key locations and near bus stops. Through these signboards, information on the departure and arrival of buses will be displayed to avoid unnecessary congestion on roads.
Key benefits and future needs
Smart traffic solutions offer several benefits to civic agencies and police departments. For instance, the system automatically adjusts the traffic signal timings based on real-time traffic density. Violations by vehicles are automatically detected using a centralised database based on which e-challans are generated. Also, traffic discipline is better maintained in the city thereby reducing the chance of accidents.
The deployment of intelligent transport systems is the need of the hour as Indian cities are grappling with problems of congestion and insufficient number of personnel to tackle the increasing traffic load on roads. Also, considering the number of accidents that take place, smart traffic solutions are undoubtedly key to increasing road safety. Moreover, the timely issuance of e-challans also effectively reduces the number of violators.