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THINKING HIGHWAYS @ 10 A theory of evolution


promises a step change in capabilities but also poses issues on how these can be integrated effectively with existing ITS systems to provide the most benefit to users, as Alistair Gollop explains





in data processing are enabling governments and private companies alike to improve trans- portation services and better target invest- ments. Government is rewiring to become more supportive of these beneficial technolo- gies, while ensuring that they are safe and secure. This is both an opportunity and a challenge. Technological changes are coming fast and with greater frequency” – former US Department of Transport Secretary Anthony Foxx.


N 46


ew technologies, like vehicle automa- tion…are making travel significantly safer and more convenient. Advances


There is widespread recognition that tech- nology on our highways is developing apace and, although the benefits that are envisaged are significant, the challenges these pose are also substantial.


HOW OUR ROADS BECAME WIRED Earlier traffic signal installations operated in isolation, although it was quickly realised that synchronising the operation of adja- cent sites provided superior levels of perfor- mance. To start with, this was achieved by using sets of traffic plans pre-programmed into each traffic signal controller. This pro-


vided a good level of service, but relied on the accuracy of the real-time clocks in each cabinet. However, to update the plans, it was still necessary for an engineer to physi- cally attend the site, and the scope to adjust plans in response to unexpected traffic pat- terns was limited. It was therefore realised that by running the plans from a central- ised Urban Traffic Control (UTC) location, it would overcome these deficiencies. To achieve this, each site had to have a


communications link to the control room. These were usually implemented using leased lines, which provided a perma-


www.thinkinghighways.com


Over the years traffic systems have evolved to become increasingly sophisticated in response to the increase in traffic volume and as technological advances have resulted in the ability to implement enhanced capabilities. However, the advent of emerging technologies


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