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Intelligent transportation stystem for metropolitan traffic management

Intelligent Transportation System (ITS), over the recent years, has played increasingly important part in providing viable answer to improve quality of road transport. An advanced ITS solution, based on open architecture that applies GIS technology for large scale traffic management is reviewed.


Road transport has a major impact on the quality of life in a city, its environment and the economy. Transport authorities globally are facing similar strategic challenges around worsening congestion, insufficient transport infrastructure, affordability constraints, increasing emissions and growing customer needs. Intelligent Transportation System (ITS), over the recent years, has played increasingly important part in providing viable answer to improve quality of road transport. UNIVEMS is an advanced ITS solution, based on open architecture that applies GIS technology for large scale traffic management.

Road transportation is vital for sustaining Kuala Lumpur economy, essential for the movement of people and goods. As of 2012, Kuala Lumpur and its surrounding areas viz. Klang Valley are home to roughly 7.5 million people. Many of whom relies on road network for their daily commute; with a ratio of 1 car for every 5 people, Malaysia ranks among the top countries globally in terms of car ownership. Traffic congestion issues have always been a concern for this fast growing metropolitan in which more than 90 per cent of trips are made entirely by private means of transportation i.e. by car and motorcycle. On top of this, majority of freight deliveries in and out of Kuala Lumpur are made using the road network.

As Kuala Lumpur’s population annual growth rate is expected to maintain at above 2.2%, this will impose additional challenges and demands on the road network in meeting annual increase of drivers on the road. This will be also affect government’s agenda in transforming Malaysia into a developed and high-income country by year 2020. This article reviews a viable solution in enhancing road transport efficiency, reducing congestion and travel time by means of integrated intelligent traffic management.

Faced with deteriorating road transport management, authorities across the world are increasingly focusing on the use of ITS. UNIVEMS, the Unified Video and Event Management System, is specially designed to meet the unique requirements of ITS. UNIVEMS is a centralised platform providing monitoring, control and management tools for large scale, multimodal transportation network. UNIVEMS is explicitly designed with open and modular architecture where it can dynamically integrate with other subsystems in the transportation network, such as roadside CCTV, traffic light controller, variable message board, road operator and authorities, etc. All of these subsystems are required to carry out incident mitigation plan synchronously in order to achieve effective traffic management. For example, the roadside CCTV has identified a breakdown vehicle where this incident can potentially escalate into severe congestion if no effective actions were taken promptly. For effective traffic management, coordinated action plan must be triggered. Firstly the authority or operator will be informed and requested to be on site; secondly, recovery team will be sent to remove the vehicle; and lastly, variable message boards in the surrounding areas are configured to display messages informing drivers about the incident and suggesting alternative route. All of these actions can be synchronised and performed with UNIVEMS automatically.

UNIVEMS Architecture
UNIVEMS is designed with open architecture, providing flexibility and scalability in subsystems interface. Protocols such as TCP/IP, Rs232, Rs485, SCADA, IEEE 802.3, IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n and manyothers are fully supported and complied with international standard. Open architecture design enables UNIVEMS to be fully flexible in integration with third party applications and devices. UNIVEMS comprises of three layers, namely: Gateway layer, Server layer, and Client layer.

Figure 1: System Architecture of UNIVEMS.

Gateway Layer
The functionality of Gateway layer is to provide interface between UNIVEMS and other subsystems in the transportation network. Gateway module is explicitly designed to communicate with each type of subsystems in order to achieve efficient and effective communication. It enables UNIVEMS to obtain subsystems operation status, alarms and if necessary, access to the control of the subsystems. Traffic data generated by the sensors are propagated back to UNIVEMS through the Gateway. The Gateway is designed as a modular plugin to UNIVEMS thus a fully open architecture platform can be realized, providing flexibility in interfacing with a broad range of subsystems.

Server Layer
Server Layer is the key layer of UNIVEMS. The heart of Server layer comprises of the intelligent module and geographic information database. It is constructed with sophisticated and comprehensive knowledge-based traffic control and management operation. The Server layer eases the users from handling intensive traffic information by providing automated respond on alarm and events. Essentially, the server intelligent module will perform decision making according to geographic information and sensory data. An incident alert triggered by road side CCTV will be correlated to geographic information database in order to formulate a mitigation plan, such as: (1) display “Traffic Incident Ahead, Drive Slow” on the surrounding VMS boards; (2) inform the nearest police station to attend the incident. Subsequently, the server will associate all traffic information with network infrastructure that overlaid on GIS map to derive an alternative route, and make it available to the public.

Figure 2: UNIVEMS powered by GIS technology – Traffic incident detected by CCTV (ID # 01)

Figure 3: Surrounding VMS boards are identified with GIS, and triggered to display messages.

Client Layer
Client Layer is designed in multichannel information dissemination approach. The information processed from server layer is disseminated via client layer to UniControl, web, mobile apps, etc. UniControl provides a unified and user-friendly device control interface for managing all associated hardware devices from other subsystems in the transportation networks. Each type of hardware devices is controlled by using the unified interface regardless the make and model of the hardware. ‘Device diagnosis’ feature allow users to have an overview of all devices operation status at one glance for better troubleshooting and maintenance. For example, Figure 3 shows the video wall controller provided by UniControl in which userscan select video stream from particular cameras to be displayed and choose how the screen to be structured for effective viewing. Whereas, Figure 4 is a unified control interface for VMS boards used across the city which can be different brand, different model and with different communication protocols.

Figure 4: Video Wall controller provided by UniControl allows user to select video stream from particular camera.

Figure 5: Unified control interface for VMS boards.

According to a study conducted by IBM, traffic jumped 236% as population grew nearly 20% between 1982 and 2001 in US alone. Traffic congestion became a major problem in major cities worldwide. Traffic congestion not only wasting time of motorist and passengers and causing unnecessary stress, but also reduces regional economic growth, increases fuel wastage, air pollution and carbon dioxide emission, which is directly proportional to greenhouse effect. This is where UNIVEMS come into the picture. UNIVEMS is an advanced ITS solution based on open architecture that applies GIS technology for large scale traffic management. The main advantage of UNIVEMS is the feature of integrated operation where it can automatically propagate detected traffic incidents from traffic sensors to other subsystems, as well as information dissemination channels. UNIVEMS is capable to quickly detect traffic incidents and notify authority within split seconds. GIS-based maps and visualization can greatly assist in understanding real scenario on site and improve communication. This allows better response to traffic incidents, and as a result, traffic management can be performed efficiently. UNIVEMS is cost saving as the usage can result in minimization of operational expenses, fuel and human resource. UNIVEMS is designed to be as simple as possible for the user to learn and master the software configuration within short period of training time. With this advantage, user can maximize the performance of the system and provide better and accurate information to the public. To upgrade the nation’s traffic management, it has to start with commencing Advance Traffic Management System, and bridging local technology to the next level. An efficientand easily accessed real time traffic information systemcan also benefit many other sectors including tourism, logistics/freight/shipping, daily public user, etc.