Choosing Traffic Control Software: Top Considerations for Your City
Published by Daniel Stofan on
Dealing with traffic is an inevitable yet frustrating aspect of life. On any given day, individuals must maneuver traffic and take it into account with their daily plans. For city planners, traffic is a much more significant consideration. In a recent study, approximately two-thirds of the country’s traffic signals revealed that Americans spend 17.25 million hours waiting for poorly timed signals every day. In a world where time is money, and traffic congestion can have catastrophic consequences, this is a problem that must be addressed.
Fortunately, smart traffic management systems can help address these challenges, helping individuals get from A to B safely and efficiently. Integrating a smart, adaptive traffic control software can drastically improve traffic in your city. While all cities have traffic control software to some extent, smart traffic control software will react intelligently to current situations in traffic, providing enhanced insights and data.
Why Use Smart Traffic Software?
Intelligent traffic control systems address the usual trouble wherever the interaction among different modes or users of mobility exists. In the contest of private transport of urban networks, intelligent traffic control systems are designed to deal with congestion. The operation management of intersections plays a crucial role in the efficiency of the entire traffic network. Thus, a smart adaptive traffic signal controller will be substantially beneficial in the view of the fact that traffic does not have a steady condition and fluctuates constantly.
Before choosing the right software, it is important to understand the benefits of implementing traffic control software in your city. Traffic slowdowns can cause significant congestion, which is not only frustrating to drivers, but can create issues such as increases in air pollution, greater likelihood of accidents, and delivery delays. All of these issues are concerning and can harm businesses and individuals alike.
An adaptive traffic control system includes the algorithm that plays the key role in the adjustment of splits, offsets, phase sequence to further diminish delays, decrease the number of stops, along with reduction in the travel time. And these systems, in order to operate accurately, must be fed with first-class data.
While city and regional governments have gone to great lengths to reduce traffic in their cities, the problem continues to grow. Traffic management has become a fundamental and complex problem of every municipality, with far reaching negative consequences such as environmental, economic and societal issues. As the number of cars in the cities increases, the density of urban road networks grows, making the building of new infrastructures unrealistic. Consequently, traffic flows have increased further.
For this reason, when it comes to mobility, addressing accessibility and quality of transport systems is not enough. City planners and traffic engineers must adapt to traffic flows in real time and enable knowledge transfer across municipalities via AI. Fortunately, there is a solution in the form of smart software that feeds adaptive traffic control systems. Through the use of sensors, cameras, routers, and cellular technology, these systems provide cities with a plethora of benefits beyond controlling traffic:
- Optimize and manage traffic flow
- Enhance road safety
- Increase street capacity
- Prevent accidents
- Collect traffic data for analysis
- Increase road productivity
- Detect incidents, violations, and dangerous events that lead to congestion
- Identify and prioritize public transport and emergency units
Through the use of traffic control software, traffic managers can ensure safer and smarter traffic control, optimizing how vehicles maneuver the road.
Six Must-Have Features for Traffic Control Software
Traffic control software can be highly beneficial to implement in a city, but you must obtain software with the right features. To ensure that the software you choose offers you solutions to fit your city's needs, look for a software solution that provides these key features:
- Low Latency = immediate reaction to traffic events
Latency refers to the amount of time it takes for data to travel from one point to another. The higher latency you experience, the greater a lag in your data, which means that information will not be shared in real-time or near time. In terms of traffic, conditions are constantly changing, and it is critical for drivers to have information as up-to-the-minute as possible. Whether for professionals commuting to work or emergency vehicles trying to cut through traffic – time is of the essence. For this reason, ensuring that your traffic control software has low latency is vital. The right software will offer response times as low as below one second, ensuring users have plenty of time to make the right decision.
Using cameras and sensors to monitor intersections, traffic engineers can monitor city traffic, notifying users of traffic lights and traffic patterns in real-time. With low-latency data sharing, users can rest assured that they have timely and accurate information for decision making. Furthermore, according to real-time data, traffic lights can be controlled, ensuring that lights align with changing traffic patterns. This then enables optimized traffic control, drastically reducing congestion and slowdowns on the road.
- High Accuracy = traffic control is only as accurate as the input data
Having high-quality data is a necessity for any software you implement, particularly in the transport industry. The data that your software extracts must be accurate for it to serve its purpose in optimizing traffic. To ensure this level of high-quality data, your software should be able to extract traffic data in incredible detail, to then be analyzed and cross-filtered by expert technology. The times when traffic control systems were operating with 70% accurate input data are long gone and you should be looking for at least 90%-95% accuracy of traffic event detection which is a standard in the transport planning industry.
- Rich Data and Events = the more you detect, the more you can react on
Scene understanding brings many benefits to the traffic monitoring itself as well as to the processing and evaluation of events happening on the streets. It is not only about counting cars but also about getting exact vehicle and pedestrian behavioural patterns, trajectories, about where the object appeared and disappeared, about its speed, what areas it visited etc. The key point is to understand the context of the traffic scene and its semantics which allows us to not only improve the data extraction but also to better describe what is happening and therefore identify anomalies.
Traffic data acquisition in your traffic control system has to accurately reflect the real-world traffic situation in the area: e.g. determining the traffic volume by counting the number of vehicles using a road, number of traffic attendants passing through a certain section of the road over a certain period, collecting journey duration time, traffic violations, incidents and near-accidents, road blockage, etc., indicating the importance of the road or intersection. It relies on dense traffic data from camera sensors installed in highways, to provide uniquely frequent updates of road information. Remote sensors then send events to controllers immediately. Modern traffic monitoring systems can also create an exact digital twin of the real scene for the traffic balancing systems that perform real-time microsimulation of possible scenarios.
- Automation Capabilities
For any software to be as efficient as possible, it is essential to have automation capabilities that capture and interpret data transactions and respond accordingly. Automated systems are immune to human error when calibrating the model with many parameters that would need to be inserted manually. With automated traffic control software, traffic data and traffic performance indicators can be collected and provided to intelligent transport management systems directly without manual human interference, increasing speed and accuracy. Just imagine analysing the traffic data automatically and implementing it into the traffic models on the fly, being able to choose the right control scheme in a matter of minutes. The traffic control system can then be programmed to respond according to the data extracted, optimizing traffic quickly and efficiently. As traffic flow tends to be repetitive, automation capabilities are critical for ensuring optimal decision-making, at no strain to a human workforce.
- Ability to Combine Services = imagine having all traffic analytics tools at your fingertips
Traffic is a complex concept consisting of numerous simultaneous factors. For this reason, the software you select must have the ability to combine services. Today it is possible to ensure that all stages of the traffic management process are covered by one system and it is not necessary to look for different service suppliers for every stage, which would result in a heterogeneous system and processes. This should include capturing data during on demand surveys, providing traffic data for strategic modelling and safety analyses, controlling traffic in real-time, and more. Many traffic control solutions are single purposes, which can lack the integration necessary to manage traffic effectively. With a combination of services, the right software should enable all parties involved in traffic projects to collaborate and perform traffic data-related tasks interactively.
- Cross-Unit Collaboration
Hand-in-hand with combined services, your software should enable cross-unit collaboration and allow different parties in the process to share the data and analyses with one another. This feature will allow different branches within the transportation and urban planning industry to work simultaneously and cohesively, ensuring unified functionality. In effect, users can collaborate, share, and analyze data with ease, offering the most accurate and efficient traffic monitoring and management services.
- Data Privacy
Another critical feature to look for in your traffic control software is data privacy. Protecting private data is of growing importance in every industry – including transport planning. For the sake of protecting individuals and businesses, ensuring the protection of data is vital, and the software you choose should offer this.
As traffic control software tracks and collects traffic information, it is vital that this data does not compromise sensitive information, such as license plate credentials or traffic movement. To ensure this, the right software should extract data anonymously. This is done by monitoring only the anonymous physical aspects of traffic object movement in the form of trajectories – thus collecting only the data necessary to monitor and optimize traffic.
Additionally, the data extracted should only be available locally, without any risk of third parties accessing the information collected. Once data is extracted, it will be uploaded to a secure channel to be processed and stored exclusively and then promptly and permanently deleted. These data privacy measures will ensure that your information is kept safe, allowing you to utilize the software at no risk to your private data.
It’s Time for Your City to Implement Smart Traffic Control
Traffic management is an integral function of every city, and managing it is crucial to maintaining productivity. Whether it be professionals on a commute, pedestrians navigating the city streets, or emergency vehicles maneuvering a crisis, it is vital that traffic be monitored and managed with expert care. Using the right traffic control software is key to achieving this level of efficiency.