Smart Traffic Management With Real Time Data Analysis

Smart Traffic Management With Real Time Data Analysis

Ravinder Pal Singh, APJC Practice Head: Software Enabled Services, Cisco Systems

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Over the last decade, the adoption and use of technologies like Mobility, Cloud and Social Platforms, commonly referred to as SoCoMo, has made it possible for common, middle class users to use small, focused applications for making their life easier and comfortable. Whether it is simply paying your utility bills using mobile banking or getting that favourite movie ticket by just clicking couple of buttons, use of technology has really changed the way we live, play and work.

Though we have been referring to Smart Cities and communities for sometime now, let us look at how use of Information and data available to us can be used to really create some smart services, which in a true sense provide us with better living. Let us look at a key case, which impacts us almost daily: traffic management. Use of technology and real time analysis can actually lead to a smooth traffic management.

Smart Traffic Management:

With affordability and higher purchasing power, it has become very easy for a common person to own a vehicle. The number of cars sold last year in India was few times more than cars sold 20 years back. Though this has led to a comfortable lifestyle, it also creates a problem in terms of road congestion and traffic pile up around our cities. So how can we use data and information easy and smooth? Let us look at a scenario.

Connecting Traffic Management System (Traffic signals and Traffic Command centers) with a GIS enabled digital road map of the city and using the power of analytics is a key to smooth traffic management. Using real time analytics of data from these sources and linking them to some trends, we can manage traffic flow much better. Imagine a car driver getting an SMS when he is driving towards the City Center, guiding him to roads which are less congested and helping to identify a parking slot.

Data analytics tools get data from the Traffic Management System, align this in real time with GIS mapping and parking management data provide information to the driver, thus help reducing traffic pile up. Also, information from these systems are being projected in real time on digital screens installed at City Center entrances, guiding drivers to available parking slots and streets. This not only helps reduce congestion but also saves lot on time and fuel, thus making environment cleaner and better to live. Hence, a smart living experience.

Scenario 1: How Smart Analytics can reduce Traffic Congestion on a busy road

  • Sensors connected to traffic signal keep sending information to a central server on number of vehicles piling
  • Analytics platform gets real-time data from sensors, traffic signals within 2km of intended junction & GIS mapping of roads
  • When a threshold is reached, analytics software send a message to traffic display 1km before the signal
  • Motorists driving towards signal are asked to divert to another road
  • When number of vehicles at signal decrease below threshold, message flashed on display stops urging drivers to drive towards signal
  • Installing similar system across city makes all signals congestion free

Scenario 2 : How Smart Analytics can save life on road

  • Ambulance carrying a critical patient is driving at full speed towards hospital
  • Analytics platform gets real time data from sensors, traffic signals on the way to hospital and GIS mapping of all roads leading to hospital
  • A message is sent to the ambulance display panel in front of the driver informing him which the road to take
  • All signals towards hospital are asked to be on a particular color (Red or Green) prompting ambulance to pass through
  • A message is also sent to hospital system prompting them to be ready, including an auto message to the doctor's phone to rush back if he is out

Scenario 3 : How Smart Analytics help prevent and catch crime

  • A criminal places a suspicious bag near a road side bus stop
  • CCTV camera keeps recording all activities including this one
  • All information from CCTV, sensors on the road, criminal database and information from Police command center is continuously fed to analytics platform which keeps analyzing the information and takes decisions
  • Based on the analytics, a message is flashed to police command center and nearest public display asking public to remain away from the site
  • Police squad is dispatched to site to check bag contents and take necessary action
  • Video of person placing bag is flashed across police stations by command center


Use of technology in Traffic management is a known thing. However, it is the use of data from different sources in real-time and processing information to take immediate decisions that is the key to a successful traffic management in our cities. It is the need of the hour to leverage enormous amount of data around us and create a more meaningful and smooth living for us.

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