Unsurprisingly the United Kingdom has been named the second most congested location in Europe, after a 2018 study by GoCompare found that UK motorists will spend an average of 31 hours stuck in traffic jams per year, losing over £1,000 in fuel and time.
Cities worldwide are now embracing new IoT technology though, to help improve the flow of traffic and reduce congestion on major roads. By applying AI and machine learning techniques, and leveraging vast amounts of data to these IoT solutions, cities could be armed with crucial real-time information that can be used to implement significant changes in the way roads are managed, thus creating new smart road solutions.
Working alongside autonomous vehicles, new smart road solutions such as smart intersections have been making their way onto our roads. Still in the early staging phase, cities have been experimenting with smart sensors which, when strategically placed at intersections, can communicate the location and movement of objects within a 360° perimeter. These then transmit the information back to moving vehicles that are equipped with V2X technology. The main aim of this solution is to protect cyclists and pedestrians, but sensors can also support more complex intersections by alerting turning vehicles of hidden traffic to avoid head-on collisions, pile-ups and timely delays.
Gathering and analysing information on traffic patterns has allowed cities to piece together strategic overviews for formulating plans to keep traffic running smoothly when faced with possible congestion issues. This information is collected from on-point GPS location trackers that are attached to trains, buses and courier vehicles, and which regularly direct their information to city authorities – informing them of any long-term stationary vehicles that could mean a break down/accident or unusual flow of commuters. By analysing the information, authorities can decide if more public transport is needed, alert commuters of impending delays, and divert traffic around the congested areas.
A lack of on- and off-street parking spaces and insufficient management of pay meters can easily transform into a backlog of vehicles all trying to park or simply navigate their way around the congested roads. To help address this, radar sensors can be mounted on street lighting above or embedded into the pavement below, detecting in real-time when parking spaces become available. This can then feedback information such as parking duration, or if someone has parked in a forbidden zone, back to operators – helping to streamline parking operations.
In addition, new smart phone applications that are connected to parking facilities can complement this by notifying motorists where the closest parking spaces are, how many are available, and even allow for direct payment to avoid the use of a cumbersome machine and ticket.
By obtaining greater visibility of road behaviour through the integration of IoT technology, AI and gathering of mass-data, cities can now start to pre-define their traffic management operations, tackling the ever-increasing pressures which road systems face to ensure action can be taken even before issues are likely to occur.
Enabling these IoT smart road solutions demands reliable and flexible connectivity which can go where the requirement is. Cellular can provide this as it is able to connect anywhere at any time, and by implementing a managed gateway or router connectivity solution the critical and sensitive data which is being transmitted can be secured from the network edge right back to the core. New cellular technologies such as NB-IoT will be critical to this; able to cover wider areas, and requiring significantly reduced power, they are highly flexible and cost effective.
Westbase.io’s range of NB-IoT routers from leading IoT connectivity vendor, Sierra Wireless, are due for availability in early 2019. You can read more about using 4G LTE for IoT solutions on our Internet of Things page in the meantime, or please contact a member of our team if you have any questions on firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0) 1291 437 567.