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TRAFFIC SYSTEMS DEVELOPMENT


tor to poor air quality in cities is recognised to come from vehicle emissions, although the reasons why these are worse at different times of the year are complex and include a range of climatic conditions. To tackle this, urban authori-


“Urban authorities have established air monitoring stations which provide data that can be used to


ties have established air moni- toring stations which provide data that can be used to iden- tify pollution events and to allow forecasts to be produced to proactively warn of their likely occurrence. However, these systems tend to be large, often housed in a small cabin, which can be difficult to locate in an urban centre, where space adjacent to a highway can be at a premium. These sys- tems are also expensive to purchase and to operate, with regular calibration and replacements required. These drawbacks, therefore limit the


ability of most local authorities to deploy more than a handful of air quality stations across their road network. The result of this, is that the data produced can only provide broad indications of the environ- ment, and lacks detail on a street by street basis. To overcome this, small roadside sensors can be used which give a resolu- tion which is simply not possible with the traditional monitoring stations. Although these new sensors are not as accurate as full scale air monitoring stations, the tech- nologies used are progressing continu- ously, so that measurements at parts per billion are now possible. These new generation sensors typically


make use of the IoT principles discussed earlier, to use small devices that can be mounted onto existing street furniture. Because of this, it is possible to install many units across a city to gain a detailed under- standing of the patterns that result in poor air quality events. These data streams can be fed into a UTMC system to allow traffic managers to understand the impact of traf- fic plans on the environment. This informa- tion can also be used proactively to trigger a range of actions (such as changing traf- fic plans) to reduce the impact that these events have, so could be used to reduce traffic flow in badly affected streets or to


www.thinkinghighways.com


identify pollution events and to allow forecasts to be produced to proactively warn of their likely occurrence”


re-route traffic away from affected areas, before the situation becomes too serious. The system can then also be used to warn the public about air quality incidents, with online and VMS displays being used.


FLEXIBLE PLATFORMS UTMC platforms are also already being used in areas with multiple stakeholders to provide operational benefits to the whole highway network. The responsibility for roads in England is broadly split between Highways England for motorways and trunk roads and local highway authorities for the rest of the road network. This often results in situations where the operation of one network can be affected across boundaries by another, including motorways affecting local roads, or roads in one highway author- ity area being affected by those in a neigh- bouring authority’s area. This type of cross boundary affect is par-


ticularly prevalent at motorway junctions, where local authority roads join into the Highways England network. Operational issues can then arise when congestion or incidents on the motorway occur, including warning drivers on the local road network not to join the motorway and with high vol- umes of diverting traffic from the motor- way overwhelming the local road network. The Mott MacDonald Osprey system is


used by Highways England for the South East UTMC deployment, where a number of junction dashboards have been imple- mented to bring together technology assets belonging to multiple stakeholders. This provides the control room operators with a view of the equipment around these busy junctions, allowing unified responses to a range of scenarios to be used irrespec- tive of the different highway authorities affected. This closer integration for the


operation of highway networks between neighbouring authori- ties is another benefit which can be delivered due to the unique flexibility that UTMC platforms provide. With the future introduction


of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV), there will be a requirement for data to pass from Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V)


and to/from Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) (collectively referred to as V2X). The V2V connectivity will allow vehicles to inform or warn other vehicles around it on the road, for instance, to alert following vehicles that a car has had to apply its brakes hard. The V2I data exchange will allow traffic systems to inform vehicles of operational param- eters or warnings, such as that the traffic signals ahead are currently red or that there are roadworks ahead. This connectivity will also allow vehicles to pass data back to the traffic systems, enabling the vehicles to become data probes for a range of crite- ria including actual journey time informa- tion, climatic measurements and warning of the occurrence of incidents. Although this type of deployment is currently being researched, the need for V2I connectivity will result in the requirement to find ways in which traffic systems can work co-opera- tively with individual vehicles. Traffic systems will also need to have the


capability to work with a growing range of standalone sensors to get the most benefit out of these and to provide a pathway for emerging technologies to have the capabil- ity to inform the operation of the highway network in real-time. UTMC systems offer a unique platform which working with exist- ing traffic systems also facilitate a pathway to allow emerging technologies to inte- grate effectively with them to the benefit of the whole community.


Alistair Gollop is Senior ITS Consultant at Mott MacDonald


This article has been adapated by the author from his presentation at the ITS-UK LAUIG on 8 February 2017


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