IoT traffic lights optimize traffic flow

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5 minutes Reading time
5 minutes Reading time
Imo TRAFFIC, specialist for construction site and bus traffic lights, uses gateways and dashboards from INSYS icom to parameterize traffic light networks remotely in a demand-driven and intelligent way. For this purpose, INSYS icom provides a traffic light control system with visualization, remote diagnostics and remote control. Currently, the Swiss state road between Interlaken Ost and Brienz, which includes three tunnels, is being rehabilitated with three construction sites. The route is sometimes subject to very heavy traffic, especially during vacations and weekends when the weather is nice. At the three construction sites, it is unavoidable to regulate traffic with traffic lights. On the one hand, the traffic lights regulate the construction site traffic, on the other hand, they also serve as a dosage in order not to overload the main work area (two construction sites in a very confined space) and to prevent backups into one of the tunnels.

The challenge: Coordination and synchronization of multiple traffic lights

For traffic light systems, high availability and high throughput are essential: Installations must run without interruption and traffic should also flow as optimally as possible. Red or green phases should not be too short, nor too long for best traffic flow. The installation must additionally handle many variables: maneuvering construction machines, slow vehicles such as buses and delivery traffic, but also the change in behavior of road users in response to the construction site situation. In addition, when a traffic jam begins, information about the traffic situation should be provided from the access roads so that, if necessary, a further influx of traffic can be contained.

The solution: Visualization, remote diagnostics and remote control

The solution is a communication concept for the tunnel alarm and for the traffic jam detection. Imo TRAFFIC uses gateways from INSYS icom for this purpose in order to parameterize the traffic light network remotely and intelligently and demand-driven with the help of relevant data. A remotely accessible dashboard on the gateways visualizes all relevant status values, enabling efficient remote diagnostics and monitoring.

Since there is always a very high volume of traffic, especially on nice days, and the associated tailbacks, additional traffic jam sensors were installed at two locations. An evaluation unit and an ECR router from INSYS icom are located at both traffic jam sensors. These traffic jam sensors report the traffic condition to the Traffic Broker placed in the router of the 1st traffic light. Depending on the states, it is defined which pre-programmed traffic jam image represents the current event. This information is then sent via an MQTT protocol to two other routers located along the incoming A6 and A8 highways. There is one LED wall each next to an INSYS IO unit with an ECR router. This IO unit “feeds” the LED screens with the respective pre-programmed traffic jam image, which is then displayed. In this way, road users are kept up to date on the current traffic situation.

Source: INSYS icom

A tailback into the tunnel is to be avoided for safety reasons. To ensure this, there is again an IO unit from INSYS icom with the ECR router at the tunnel control center, the Werkhof in Interlaken. This sends its status information to a safety broker integrated in this unit. The safety broker sends this information on to the 3 traffic lights. As soon as such a tunnel alarm arrives there, all traffic lights switch to permanent red. At the same time, the personnel from the construction site security service and the traffic service are informed via SMS. It takes the incident services about 10 minutes to get to one of the tunnels. Until then, traffic services are tasked with turning traffic around and allowing it to move away from the closed section if possible. The traffic lights leading away from the roadway will also remain red to allow incident services to overtake the traffic jam from either end of the jam via the opposite lane to get to the incident scene as quickly as possible. The security service can then, at a later point in time, in consultation with the event services, remove the block at the traffic lights via SMS. After that, the traffic lights switch back to normal.

The result: Reduction of service calls and predictive switching

The result is demand-driven traffic light control through visualization, remote diagnosis and remote control. Via traffic jam sensors and LED walls, road users are already informed about the current traffic situation on the access roads. INSYS icom’s router solutions offer traffic light controllers triple added value: reduced service calls, the latest traffic light and status information enables location-independent, predictive switching, and road users are less likely to be stuck in traffic jams. By networking the traffic light control, additional data is available which, paired with calendar information such as weekends and holidays, can be used for parameterization and circuit planning. Information known at short notice, such as weather data or planned construction site cross traffic, can also be incorporated. In easy-to-read dashboards, parameter changes can be made and viewed remotely.

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