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How Smart Cities Can Improve Traffic Flow
Traffic congestion is not only a major headache but can waste hours of an individual’s time. CNN reports commuters spend an average of 54 hours each year in traffic. Heavy traffic also poses dangers for both drivers and pedestrians. Smart cities are increasingly improving traffic with the use of artificial intelligence and smart traffic systems that can reduce congestion, help the environment, and provide safety for both drivers and pedestrians. By implementing these technological advancements, there are several ways smart cities can improve traffic flow.
Adjusting Traffic Signals
Smart traffic systems implement artificial intelligence technologies that allow traffic signals to adjust based on real-time conditions. Many traffic signals currently use loop sensors and timers to determine when each light along a roadway will change. This is somewhat effective, but there are inefficiencies. There isn’t any ability to adjust the cycle when traffic increases or decreases at different times throughout the day.
Smart traffic systems will put adaptive signals throughout a city to improve management of traffic flow. This technology is already working in some parts of South Korea and the United States. It is currently, however, only in about 1% of traffic signals. Smart cities will continually need to update signals to increase the number of adjusting traffic signals that are in use. As more cities invest in adjusting traffic signals, this will reduce gridlock and lower costs.
Increasing Driverless Cars
Recent reports of accidents involving autonomous cars may raise doubts about how successful these vehicles are. It’s important to remember that the technology is still in the process of development and will likely improve overall traffic flow in the not-so-distant future. According to Social Innovation, there are several benefits of using connected autonomous vehicles (CAVS).
- They can make smarter driving choices that improve traffic flow and reduce gridlock.
- They increase overall safety for both drivers and pedestrians.
- They help the environment by taking the most fuel-efficient routes.
Implementing Smart Corridors
V2V (vehicle to vehicle) technology allows vehicles to communicate with one another. This includes both autonomous cars and driver-operated smart cars. Vehicles can alert each other to accidents and changes in traffic as it occurs. This communication, however, has limits. Currently, vehicles can only communicate with one another.
V2I (vehicle to infrastructure) technology has the potential to provide more options for communicating with a greater number of vehicles at one time. V2I technology allows vehicles and infrastructure to communicate. Certain sections, or smart corridors, will connect with vehicles as they are traveling through different roadways and intersections. These sections of road will have technology that can give drivers information such as weather alerts or traffic reports. This will give a driver the option of changing routes, which can ease congestion and possibly reduce accidents. The combination of V2V and V2I technology can vastly improve traffic flow in urban areas.
Improving Car Sharing Apps
Car sharing, instead of ownership, is a trend that is gaining steam in cities across Europe. There are different ways to operate a car sharing system. One of the most basic is a two-way model. This requires drivers to borrow and return the cars to the same business or station. A one-way system is when a person picks up a car at one station and then later delivers it to another. There is also peer-to-peer car sharing. This involves actual ownership of a vehicle among two or more individuals.
To reduce the number of vehicles on the road, smart cities will want to promote car sharing for those individuals who want to drive instead of using public transportation. There are several apps available for both iOS and Android. Companies normally screen drivers with background checks before they can rent cars. There is also the option in some companies for people to rent out their own personal car to other individuals.
An increasing number of individuals are walking or riding bicycles in urban areas instead of driving. Pedestrians in traffic is not only dangerous, but can cause major congestion. Smart traffic systems will use sensors on the streets and vehicles to help prevent accidents with pedestrians. The following are a few specific examples of available smart traffic systems that can track and promote pedestrian safety.
- Smart Counter– IoT-VT is technology that counts pedestrians on a particular street or area of a city. This can help a business determine what area is the best location to open a new store. It may also help government agencies decide where to put traffic lights or other devices to improve the flow of foot traffic.
- Multi-Object Tracking– (MOT) technology can implement a variety of tracking methods. Tracking in real time and analyzing historical data are two ways this technology can work. Some sensors can even track thermal signatures when optimal lighting is not available.
Replacing Vehicles with Drones
Drone technology is rapidly advancing, with constant improvements in the way these amazing machines operate. There are several potential ways to replace vehicles with drones to reduce congestion on roadways.
- Deliver Meals – Restaurants delivering everything from pizzas to sandwiches may use drones instead of sending out delivery personnel.
- Package Delivery– Your next Amazon or FedEx delivery might come by drone delivery. FedEx is already testing this kind of delivery.
- Monitor Traffic– Smart cities can use drones to monitor traffic conditions and help professionals understand current patterns and places where gridlock often occurs. This will enable developers to redesign highways and infrastructure to improve traffic and pedestrian flow.
- Transport Passengers– It may be many years before transporting passengers via drone becomes reality, but several startups are already working on the technology. Taxis and ride sharing companies are some businesses looking to improve transportation through the use of drones.
Improving traffic and reducing congestion in cities is an important goal since approximately 4 billion people currently live in cities. The number of people living in cities may rise to 7 billion by 2050. As technology continues to improve, smart traffic systems will continue to play a critical role in improving traffic efficiency and safety on a global scale.