Monday, November 19, 2012

Challenges for Intelligent Transportation Systems In India

Indian Express Date - 8/12/2011 :- The City of Mumbai has been awarded for having the 'Best Intelligent Transport System Project' from the Ministry of Urban Development,Government of India. A World Bank Funded Mumbai Urban Transport Project,worth 72 Crores, is being implemented at 253 traffic Junctions in the city since the past 2 years. The Achievements of the project include -
-> Real Time data collection of the traffic through Detectors
-> Reduction in Time Cycles in Signals, meaning reduction in Average Waiting time at signals
-> Reduction in Electricity consumption by 30% due to LED Signal heads
-> Overall 10% increase in Traffic Speed

All of these achievements are due to Implementation of Intelligent Road Transportation system through this Urban Transportation Project. Intelligent Transportation System encompass a broad range of Wireless and Wire Line Communications and Electronics technologies. When integrated into the transportation systems infrastructure and in Vehicles, these technologies relieve congestion and improves productivity.

India Specific Challenges

1. Generalized Challenges 

As per Asian-Correspondent article, Government of India has committed Rs 234,000 Crores  in Urban Infrastructure sector,Rapid Bus Transportation and Metro and Mono rail development systems. However, in India due to rapid economic growth and space and cost constraints,infrastructure growth is slow as compared to growth in the number of vehicles. Further, due to increased concentration of IT and MNC companies at the cities, demographic migrations are acute forcing millions of people to become part of Urban Population.
Traditionally, developed countries have implemented traffic sensors that function best when the traffic is Organized. However, in most of the emerging economies such as India, traffic ethics are less followed, and the traffic pattern is Chaotic (without Lane Discipline). This presents challenge for Sensing Techniques. Also sensing algorithms and computational techniques have to consider different road widths and vehicle types that are rampant in such Un-organized Urban traffic as in India.
Moreover, large populations in India still remain Rural but are rapidly Urbanizing and Industrializing. In these areas a motorized infrastructure is being developed alongside motorization of the population. Great disparity of wealth means that only a fraction of the population can motorize. Thus, the highly dense multilevel transportation system for the poor has to be developed alongside the highly motorized transportation system for the rich

2. Application Specific Challenges 

Following are the types of Applications -
1.  Vehicle Classification - Determining what kind of vehicles ply on which kind of roads helps to choose appropriate Road width and pavement materials.
2. Congestion Maps and Travel Time Estimates - Helps in Optimum Route selection.
3. Individual Vehicle Management -Getting information about Parking or Carbon Footprint.
4. Monitoring -Pollution and Road quality monitoring are necessary.
5. Accident Handling - Emergency services after an Accident are vital.
6. Historical Data - Helps to Plan new infrastructure,calibrate traffic signal times and so on.

Every Indian city has specific needs based on the kind of traffic,the conditions of roads and the behavior of commuters. Thus, Prioritizing the application for ITS architecture is a major challenge for Indian cities.

3.Technology Challenges

1.Static Sensing 
Vehicle detection and counting using magnetic sensors or loops under the road surface are generally used,Video surveillance to monitor traffic states and detect incidents and hotspots is a common phenomena. However as developing countries have Heterogeneous traffic model hence Sensing technologies have to adapt themselves. New Sensing methodologies have to answer some Key Questions - what to sense;how long to sense and handle the real time data Vs Accuracy trade off ; and how to build sensing models for Different Road widths and Vehicle Types with Minimum Manual Supervision.

2. Mobile Sensing 

Many transport companies in India have GPS installed in their vehicles for real time tracking.However, GPS is known to have Localization Errors thereby providing wrong information of real time traffic. Ordinary Mobile phone penetration is very high in India. Cell Phone operators can give approximate vehicle densities in the neighborhood of a given Cell Tower based on Subscribers seen in that area. However, designing proper Incentive models for participatory sensing in an active area of research.

Thus we can see that India specific challenges provide a multitude of opportunities for the evolution of ITS technology. The characteristics of Indian roads and traffic type provide an interesting Case for the design of ITS systems specific to India.



It all sounds very high-tech and wonderful. If only the state of the roads is also taken into consideration and something high tech is used to ensure potholes don't appear with so much dependability year after year.

We must add in road discipline and etiquettes as a part of the sustainability drive to drive the economics and people resourcefulness in tandem with these efforts.

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