Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Intelligent Transport Systems Centre

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Have you ever wonder how 5 million people travel in Singapore? With just about 723km2 of land, it is no secret that transportation plays a very important part in ensuring everyone commutes with relatively ease and safety.

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The Intelligent Transport Systems Centre (ITSC) is a 24/7 facility that manages all 161km of expressways and 2150 signalized intersections in Singapore. ITSC also plays an important role in controlling traffic flow during big events held in Singapore, like the Singapore F1 event.

I got a chance to visit the heart of all Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) managed by LTA. The ITS Centre operates 24 hours a day throughout the year, monitoring and managing traffic flow, as well as maintaining our ITS infrastructure.

Currently, the ITS Centre operated the Expressway Monitoring and Advisory System (EMAS), the Green Link Determining (GLIDE) System for traffic lights, Junction Electronics Eyes (J-Eyes), traffic.smart and Central Expressway (CTE) Tunnel’s Plant Monitoring and Control System (PMCS). Other smaller systems include the Electronic Regulatory Signs (ERS) system.

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At the forefront of the daily operations, the Operations Section uses these systems to monitor traffic as well as manage ad-hoc incidents and pre-planned events on our roads. The scope of operations includes the 8 open expressways, the CTE tunnels and about 1900 signalised traffic junctions. This Operations Section keeps traffic smooth-flowing by responding to incidents promptly, informing motorists of real-time traffic situations, and adjusting traffic signals to meet varying demands of traffic conditions. They also attend to reports of faulty equipment detected through the various ITS.

Equally important is the Maintenance Section which is responsible for the maintenance of the various ITS, computers and site equipment. They attend to faulty equipment and ensure that they are repaired promptly. This team strives to achieve minimal downtime of our traffic systems to provide road users with a safe and smooth journey.

Below are 2 photos of how the Operations Section looked like.

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It’s really like watching the movies, the screens are constantly updated with different views of the traffic situations in various places. And the 8 staff on duty were vigilantly communicating with one another and directing any incident that is happening on the roads. Well we were there visiting, we can actually see the usual traffic jams along PIE/CTE during the peak hours (due to an accident on the expressway) and how efficiently the staff communicate with the various teams to send in the recovery crews to ensure the smoothness of the traffic flow.

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Expressway Monitoring and Advisory System (EMAS)
EMAS is an intelligent incident management tool that manages traffic along our expressways and the CTE tunnels. The EMAS comprises 3 sub-systems:
a. Detection Camera System that collects real-time traffic data
b. Surveillance Camera System that provides visual verification of incidents
c. Information and Dissemination System that updates motorists on traffic situation

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Benefits of EMAS
- provides quick response to motorists who need help along expressways
- minimises congestion that may arise from incidents through the quick deployment of recovery crew and the display of messages to the public to avoid incident locations
- enhances safety on expressways
- allows motorists to make informed decisions / choose alternative routes

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Green Link Determining System (GLIDE)
GLIDE controls all traffic and pedestrian signals and manages traffic along the arterial roads.

How does GLIDE work?
Detector loops in the form of thin metal wires are laid below the road surfaces at traffic junctions. Each time a vehicle moves over the detector loops, it causes a change in their magnetic fields. The change activates a response at a receiver in the local controller and the command is send to adjust the timing of traffic signals automatically so as to optimise traffic flow at the junctions.

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Benefits of GLIDE
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allocates green time for motorists and pedestrians based on real-time demand
- provides “green wave” link between adjacent junctions to minimise the number of stops by vehicles
- allows traffic signal faults to be rectified quickly

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Junction Electronic Eyes (J-Eyes)
J-Eyes are surveillance cameras mounted on special mounting posts, street lamp posts and buildings to capture video images of traffic flow at major junctions and transmit them to the ITS Centre for viewing on monitor screens.

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Benefits of J-Eyes
- act as remote eyes for operations staff to spot and rectify causes of traffic congestion
- deter illegal parking and loading or unloading along major roads

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Electronic Regulatory Signs (ERS)
ERS are light emitting diode (LED) traffic signs, which are switched on only at specific time periods to convey time-specific traffic instructions to road users.

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Benefits of ERS
- brighter and clearer than static traffic signs
- ensure better compliance from motorists

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Parking Guidance System (PGS)
PGS promotes a more efficient use of existing parking facilities and reduces the amount of circulating traffic searching for available parking facilities in the vicinity.

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During the session, there were a few questions/feedbacks thrown out, and even though I do not drive that often nowadays, it was still a very interesting session to listen.

Q1: Why can’t we use countdown timer for traffic lights? Like those we see in JB or US.
Q2: What are the rescue plans for emergency situations in the tunnels? Eg. if there is a fire in the tunnels, how can the trapped motorists escape?
Q3: Can we number our expressways like those in the US? North 90, South 65, etc..
Q4: Can we change the EMAS message, “Heavy vehicle drive on *extreme left lane”? (*denotes addition word)

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Seriously, when I was invited to attend this session by Dice Studio, I was a bit reluctant cos I do not own a car now. But I was pleasantly surprise to have went for the event and got to understand a bit more how the entire transportation system works in a small country like Singapore.
Quoting someone, “From now on, I will think thrice when I am on the road, cos there are so many “eyes” watching.”

For more information on ITSC, you can check it out on their website. Alternatively, you can also know more on their Facebook page.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    I was just curious about the Junction Electronic Eyes Camera. Do they act as red light cameras/speed cameras as well?
    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete