How IoT, AI, Blockchain and AR are revolutionizing traffic management
The Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and augmented reality can dramatically improve traffic management.
While traffic is one of the most common effects of increasing urbanization, the advent of modern technologies in traffic management will effectively reduce traffic problems and, therefore, travel time.
Each year, the average commuter in the United States spends 42 hours in traffic and over $ 1,400 on gasoline while their vehicle is idling. Spending long hours in traffic exposes commuters to pollution as well as carcinogens that can lead to life-threatening disorders. In addition, the global trend towards urbanization is exacerbating the already dire traffic problems. The degree of urbanization was 55% in 2018 and statistics have estimated an increase of up to 70% by 2050. One can only imagine the disastrous consequences of such a demographic explosion on road traffic. Therefore, preparing for the explosion is the immediate need of the hour.
Here, modern technologies such as AI, big data and IoT can provide effective tools to reduce or even eliminate the traffic problem. Many applications of advanced technologies have revolutionized various industrial sectors in the recent past. Likewise, the advent of modern technologies like artificial intelligence will address all traffic related issues by introducing innovative traffic management systems. Applications based on these technologies can be integrated with intelligent traffic management systems to effectively reduce congestion, travel time and road accidents.
Modern technologies are transforming traffic management
Smart cities incorporate advanced technologies for efficient traffic management. These advanced applications can be implemented in almost any urban area to analyze traffic flow and create an effective traffic management strategy:
1. The IoT collects real-time data to help commuters
The introduction of IoT will introduce a data-driven approach to solving problems such as traffic congestion. In addition, the various IoT-based applications will also improve the travel experience of commuters. IoT powered traffic lights that contain smart IoT sensors can be strategically placed in different areas. These sensors can collect traffic data in real time. The data collected can be useful for performing big data analysis to create the most practical traffic management solutions.
The IoT sensors and beacons will also make it possible to monitor parking spaces to identify empty parking spaces. These sensors will direct conductors to empty locations. Additionally, IoT sensors can be used for the development of an anti-theft system that will transmit the location of a stolen vehicle and a centralized system or app can disable the vehicle remotely.
In 2017, 40,000 people died in road crashes in the United States. Road safety has always been a major concern of commuters. In such a context, IoT sensors can be used in combination with CCTV cameras to detect accidents and alert emergency services. These efforts will help reduce the number of victims in road accidents. An Indian startup has developed an IoT-based technology called Emergency Response Automation that uses IoT sensors installed in ambulances to alert nearby traffic lights. After receiving a notification from an ambulance, the traffic lights will turn green to allow the ambulance to pass. The device also has a touchscreen that allows route mapping and a live tracking system that monitors a victim’s condition.
2. AI provides mechanisms to reduce traffic
The AI-based use cases will enable the development of an analytical approach to traffic management. Compared to current traffic management procedures, AI-based traffic management will enable informed planning and execution mechanisms that will effectively reduce traffic.
Researchers at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have developed an artificial intelligence-based intelligent routing algorithm to minimize spontaneous congestion by simultaneously directing the journeys of multiple vehicles. Similar algorithms can help build a system that suggests alternative routes to drivers to reduce traffic. Additionally, CCTV cameras with image and video recognition can generate crucial data for traffic flow analysis and development of strategies that improve traffic management. For example, the city of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania has installed radar sensors and cameras at intersections for better traffic management. Radars collect data on traffic patterns which are then analyzed by AI-based systems to optimize traffic flow. This approach reduced travel time by 25% and traffic congestion by 40%. In addition, the traffic management systems can integrate traffic information from the crowd to get real-time traffic updates for the training of the AI-based system.
Tech giants are already developing self-driving cars with the vision of ensuring safety and reducing traffic. Several studies suggest that autonomous vehicles based on AI can reduce traffic waves. Autonomous vehicles use short-range radio to detect cars and infrastructure in front of them and adjust their speed and trajectory accordingly. With such an approach, several autonomous vehicles can cooperate with each other to avoid traffic jams and accidents.
3. Blockchain provides a more secure network
Blockchain-based smart contracts and decentralized ledger can introduce improved transaction mechanisms for tolls, parking lots and gas stations. These blockchain applications will provide automated and secure payment solutions.
Toll booths often have long lines of vehicles, especially at peak times. Blockchain-based smart contracts can enable automated payment using a digital identification system. Such blockchain applications will reduce long queues and travel time. Likewise, automated peer-to-peer transactions can be used in parking lots and gas stations.
One of the main issues that IoT and AI-based traffic management systems might face is the security of the data collected. Since IoT sensors and cameras will be connected to large databases, hackers can attack networks to breach crucial data. In such a scenario, blockchain can prove to be a robust solution. Storing the collected data on a transparent and decentralized network will help create a more reliable and secure framework for data collection.
4. AR improves the driving experience
Smart apps based on augmented reality will promote safe driving practices and reduce congestion at traffic lights. Augmented reality in traffic management will also provide tools for vehicles to stay connected to traffic management systems.
Smart windshields can display essential information, such as speed, ETA, distance, navigation and possible traffic jams in real time. Such windshields will help drivers by suggesting the ideal time to change lanes in order to avoid accidents. Additionally, AR-based windshields will connect to traffic management systems to detect unsafe driving practices such as crossing speed limits and jumping traffic lights. AR-powered windshields can also send images and location data to traffic management systems that can help monitor traffic. If the smart windshield transmits data from the same location for a specific long interval, the traffic management systems will check the windshield images for traffic jams. This information will be collected in the traffic management system and the necessary measures will be taken to reduce the traffic.
EFFECTIVE STRATEGIES TO DEPLOY MODERN TECHNOLOGY IN TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT
There are a number of requirements that traffic management authorities will need to meet before deploying modern technology. There are many technical aspects involved in the adoption process which can only be tackled by qualified and experienced professionals. Therefore, it is essential to recruit experts who can strategize and contribute to the fusion of laws, rules and technology around traffic management. These professionals will enable informed decision making and planning of infrastructure such as zoning and road planning, among other construction related matters. In addition, advanced technologies such as IoT demand 24/7 network connectivity. A high-speed connection that avoids downtime or connection failures is a necessity. In addition, the data collected must be secured using robust authorization mechanisms and protocols.
Given the various procedures, infrastructure and resources, government organizations need to raise and allocate adequate funds through private investment or PPP. In addition, the promotion and encouragement of the development and adoption of innovative traffic management will greatly help to reduce the traffic problem.