Smart mobility: Transitioning from old to new

Published:26-03-2021

Smart mobility: Transitioning from old to new

Over the past decade, road authorities have invested a great deal in regulating traffic flows safely and efficiently. In 2016, the Dutch government launched the Innovation Partnership known as Talking Traffic. This has led to a new iTLC architecture and smart mobility solutions that make travel even safer, more efficient, more sustainable and more comfortable. However, this poses a new challenge for many road authorities. Should all existing hardware and software technologies be replaced at once to meet these new solutions? And how viable is a gradual transition? A hybrid traffic light controller offers a solution.

 

Through collaborations like Talking Traffic in the Netherlands and the adoption of digital technology, traditional mobility solutions are being replaced by new generations of smart mobility solutions. C-ITS applications for connected and cooperative services are also emerging. However, these developments are still a long way off before all groups of road users will be able to use them.

Priority for more groups of road users

In the past, priority at a green light was mainly reserved for emergency services, with conditional priority being given for public transport. However, today the distribution of green light is becoming more complex. Trucks, groups of cyclists and pedestrians are now becoming recognized as priority groups and this calls for smarter ways to give traffic flows a green light safely and efficiently.

In addition, the road authority doesn’t always have a say in when a system or technology is replaced as that is often up to the city carriers, bus companies and emergency services in the municipality and region. However road authorities are wanting to be able to continue to provide all types of road users with the services they are used to. In order to bridge the gap, old and new systems must be used side by side, and this has significant impact on traffic management in the city.

Negative consequences for traffic management

With old and new systems next to each other and more groups of road users requesting priority, the processor of the traffic control device will be busier. It becomes more complex to handle the additional smart mobility solutions in addition to the primary task of safely controlling red, amber and green lights.

The architecture of traditional traffic control systems is not designed to support multiple smart mobility solutions. The applications responsible for safety and the other applications interact with each other. If the traffic control system must handle multiple priority requests, this can have a negative impact on traffic flow.

New generation of traffic light controllers

The new generation of traffic light controllers allows road authorities to phase out traditional solutions at their own pace, whilst allowing old and new systems to work alongside each other simultaneously. Our FlowNode is part of the intelligent traffic control system and has been developed as an iTLC by design based on cyber security, flexibility and open standards in accordance with the Talking Traffic architecture. As a traffic control device, the FlowNode combines safe and efficient control of traffic flows with smart mobility solutions. It is the basis for an intelligent infrastructure.

Old and new coexist without problems

Due to the FlowNode’s separate and distributed safety architecture, controlling safe red, amber and green light is not adversely affected by other applications, such as smart mobility services. Moreover, additional hardware is not required to integrate C-ITS applications. The FlowNode can be easily connected to current systems, such as the public transport priority system VECOM. Gradually, new solutions, for example adaptive network controls like ImFlow and priority services like our GreenFlow Services, can be added.

The systems can be used alongside each other without any problems, creating a hybrid situation which allows for a gradual transition. In addition, this gradual transition does not affect the support of existing conditional priority systems, such as the short-range radio system for public transport and emergency services. The road authority is thus free to phase out traditional solutions at its own pace. After phasing out, considerable savings can be made on maintenance costs by removing the old hardware.

A hybrid situation in real life

Slowly but surely, you will find old and new systems side by side at more and more intersections, for example in the Netherlands. One such example is the ‘Pleijroute (N325)’ near Arnhem in the Netherlands. The traffic volume of over 80,000 vehicles per 24 hours, on and off ramps to and from the highway, the amount of side traffic and the large traffic circle at the ‘Velperbroek’ junction, make traffic management very complex. Since 2018, Dynniq Mobility has been working with the road authorities to improve traffic flow.

We equipped the intersections with the FlowNode, allowing old and new systems to work side by side simultaneously. For example, the adaptive network control ImFlow calculates and controls the smartest sequence and timing of the green light, while the traditional system VECOM gives conditional priority to public transport. We substantially improved traffic flow for vehicles, public transport, cyclists and pedestrians. The performance measurement showed that vehicle loss times, in the morning and evening rush hours, were reduced by approximately 20%.

Ready for the future without obstacles

Thanks to the FlowNode, road authorities are ready for the future, without losing investments in current and new systems. Traditional systems are no longer an obstacle for road authorities wanting to take the step towards smarter mobility as it is no longer necessary to replace all hardware and software at once. Moreover, hybrid support allows for a gradual transition and the road authority remains in complete control by adding smart mobility solutions step-by-step and phasing out traditional systems.