What’s driving smart traffic growth?

Published on the 24/02/2021 | Written by Jonathan Cotton

Smart traffic flow_Juniper

Smart cities of the future need smart traffic tech to match…

As urban populations rise, as environmental concerns increasingly come to the fore and as west-bound traffic on the Northern Motorway remains as locked as ever, it’s increasingly apparent: Humanity’s relationship with the motorcar will have to change.

Which is good. Self-driving cars, intelligent intersections and apps that help you find that elusive LAST available parking space; what’s not to love?

Smart traffic management systems are set to reduce emissions and congestion globally and save cities around US$277 billion.

According to Juniper research, such smart traffic management systems are set to reduce emissions and congestion globally – and save cities around the world around US$277 billion – in the next four years.

But how?

There’s a few methods. Smart intersections are one way. Leveraging AI-enabled automation and connectivity to manage the traffic flow in busy areas in real-time can have significant impacts on the total time drivers spend in the car and the amount of congestion on the road.

It’s not all congestion detection and number crunching however. One less obvious place where both emissions and wasted hours can be saved is parking.

Let’s face it, the average city parking building sucks. Size and complexity of facilities can mean that drivers spend several minutes just looking for a park, resulting in unnecessary congestion, emissions, and time wasted, not to mention having to suffer through inefficient payment methods, unnecessary stress and collision risk.

‘Smart parking’ technologies aim to solve these issues by harnessing parking sensor data and smart platform tech to provide real-time intelligence to guide drivers.

The technology generally comes in two parts: Sensor tech and driver guidance systems. Simple surface and flush mount sensors utilise magnetic sensing technology to detect the presence (or absence) of parked vehicles. This information is then transmitted to a nearby gateway which collects and collates the information from several dozen sensors. From there a signal is transmitted to the smart parking management system for processing and dissemination to the waiting driver.

Alternatively, overhead parking sensors can gather information from several dozen spaces simultaneously.

“These sensors typically utilise a combination of artificial intelligence and/or machine learning to ‘recognise’ empty spaces,” says Juniper, “edge computing to allow the real-time processing and analysis of sensor data, and GPS to identify the precise geographical position of vacant spaces.”

Dynamic display messaging can direct drivers to vacant parks and mobile apps can offer turn-by-turn directions to vacant spaces.

Such apps can also include payment and reservation functionality, as well as the ability to ‘top up’ their accounts for extended parking.

In older rollouts however, cybersecurity can be an issue, as it can when cybersecurity is not prioritised in the early stages of the project.

“Where security issues are not taken into consideration during the initial planning and implementation phases, this can lead to an increased number of threats not just to the integrity of citywide infrastructure, but the security of citizens’ data,” says Juniper.

That data could potentially include licence plate numbers, registration details, financial information, and movement patterns, says Juniper.

While platform suppliers will need to bring their own security expertise to the table, cities must also take responsibility for ensuring that ‘security at every layer of the system is accounted for, and that security measures are built and implemented with flexibility and future requirements in mind’.

And with an international appetite for the technology, Juniper is forecasting growth. The research company forecasts that investment into smart parking will reach US$1 billion by 2025 (rising from just US$460 million this year).

Juniper Research also predicts that the total annual congestion and emissions cost savings achievable globally through the implementation of smart parking and other smart traffic management systems will reach US$277 billion in 2025.

The overwhelming majority of savings attributable to smart traffic management systems will come by way of congestion reduction.


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