TMC upgrades technology

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Almost a year after Bengaluru got its first centrally controlled traffic management system the traffic police claims to have achieved smoother traffic and caught more violators. The traffic police have collected Rs 5.8 crores in fine amounts in 2008 after the new systems were put in place mid year, and Rs 3.14 crores in 2009 till date.

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“All these fines were possible because of (our) enforcement management system,” claims Praveen Sood, Additional Commissioner of Police, Traffic and Security.

Traffic management system

Praveen Sood, Shankar Bidri, Ashwin Mahesh in the Traffic Management Centre (pic: Supriya Khandekar)

At a recent press meet at the Traffic Management Centre (TMC), Ashoknagar Police Station, the traffic police announced  a technology upgrade  in the centre. The number of surveillance cameras has been doubled to 80. 163 signals out of 299 total signals in the city are now connected to the TMC. By July, the traffic police aim to connect all signals in the city to the TMC.

The traffic police are implementing an Intelligent Transport System (ITS) where all traffic signals will be networked with the TMC system and remotely managed. Sitting in the TMC, the police can find out the congestion level and waiting time at each signal, at any time.  The Bangalore Traffic Police say that the ITS will start functioning from this month.

The technology for ITS is provided by Bharat Electricals Ltd (BEL) and Mapunity, an organisation that develops technology to meet the growing need for governance applications in the country.

Vehicle Actuation

Under the new initiative, 100 out of the 163 traffic signals in the city have been enabled to work on the vehicle actuated mode, in which the signals function based on the traffic density.
The cellphone network traffic along with GPS data from BMTC buses is used to derive the traffic density. This data is also provided to the policemen at the traffic signal. 

“The policeman (at the TMC control) can see the area that is choked and address the problem,” explains Sood.

Variable messaging

Sood says that 20 Variable Message Signboards (VMS), which will beam live traffic situation, are being installed in K R Puram, Central Silk Board and Bellary Road, Mysore Road, Residency Road, Richmond Road, Kanakapura Road, Mekhri Circle and Tumkur Road. “The policeman at the TMC will feed information to the signboards. These boards will be functional from June,” he adds.

The VMS will later be enabled to show the availability of parking on Brigade Road and in malls such as Central, Garuda and Forum, which he says might take another six months to complete.

Work is being done on the Integrated Complaint Management System, which will automatically detect faults in traffic signals and other automated tools of the ITS, and alert service personnel and police officers, Sood adds.

Area Traffic Control System(ATC)

Furthermore, an Area Traffic Control system (ATC) will soon be used in Bangalore for the first time in the city for close proximity signals on long corridors. The first one according to Sood will come up on the stretch from Hebbal flyover to Devanahalli airport with the help of Bharat Electricals Ltd, using technology provided by C-DAC (Centre for Development of Advanced Studies), an R & D institution under the Ministry of Information Technology.

There will be loops under the roads, which will measure the number of vehicles passing at each signal. There are nine junctions on the stretch of 20 kms. According to the density of the traffic, the time period for green signal keeps changing. This will facilitate commuters to get green signals all through the stretch. Sood says they have identified 14 other corridors (that carry 50 per cent of total peak hour traffic) which will get ATC soon.

A similar technology – Signal Progression is already in place in the city, Sood adds. “But it is not as advanced as the ATC,” says Sood.  Signal Progession is implemented in areas where two, three or more signals are located in close proximity. For example, on Cubbon Road there are four signals within less than 100 metres.

 

Parking Information System (PIS)

Apart from advance technology for signals, the traffic police is also planning to enable Parking Information System. It will provide information on  availability of parking slots throughout the city. Various paid parking lots will be connected to the TMC and status displayed to the public through parking information boards, VMS boards, SMS and web site. “This will help public and also reduce parking violations,” explained Sood. However, he says that this is still a plan and the exact timeframe for its implementation cannot be disclosed.

Of Grid Locks and more

While all this technology promises to give  commuters  a smoother drive, traffic woes do not end here. Grid locks at junctions especially on rainy days tops the woe list of all commuters. While grid locks not only create chaos, they waste commuters’ time and disrupt traffic in whole stretches together. Praveen Sood feels that one of the main reasons for grid locks is our impatience. “Everyone wants to go first, very few want to maintain lane discipline and all of them overtake blatantly,” he says.

A BEL employee at the TMC controls (pic: Supriya Khandekar)

He further explains that grid locks also happen in cases when the signals at the junctions are switched off or not working. He states that at any given time five percent of signals may not be functioning due to technical snags, road works, metro work, and so on.  He says this happens even though his department has 14 maintenance teams working round the clock. 

“Especially on rainy evenings and peak traffic hours, signal failure is enough to create a mess. In some cases the constable on duty deliberately switches off the signal and tries to control the traffic, which I think is totally stupid,” he says. He further says that it is difficult for one man to manage traffic coming in from all directions. “And more because people care a d**n  about the constable,” he adds.

Explaining how grid locks and acute traffic congestions at junctions are solved, he says, “In situations like these when the constable is solving a tough grid lock, he is monitored from the control room and instructions are given to him for faster solutions. At the same time, if the situation is beyond his control then more policemen are sent to those junctions. Also the traffic department sends advisories to radio channels to inform people to avoid that particular road”.  He mentions that in general, each signal needs five policemen, and in such crisis situations, he does feel staff shortage. (The city traffic police are 2500 strong out of which about 900 are on duty at any point in time)

Furthermore, he explains that such situations are recorded and used as teaching material for trainee policemen. He claims that although we still have grid locks, their frequency has come down because of more signals and road dividers in the city.

As the traffic police come up with more ways to facilitate traffic in the city, Praveen Sood claims that in a year’s time, the city will definitely have smooth flowing traffic. Meanwhile, Citizen Matters will keep you posted on the latest on the city’s infrastructure.