Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Intelligent Traffic Signals Project to Miss Games Deadline

The showcase Intelligent Traffic Signals (ITS) project of Delhi Traffic Police, touted as the single-point solution for management of traffic during the Commonwealth Games, is not going to come up before October as the police are yet to finalize the specifications of the tender. Traffic during the Games will be managed with make-shift arrangements put in place, say officials, as the centralized control room, intelligent signals, enforcement gadgetry and Variable Message Sign (VMS) boards won’t be in place before next year.

To manage traffic before the games, the traffic police was planning ITS on all 87 corridors which will be used by players and officials. The plan was to replace signal technology at 302 intersections to reduce congestion on the stretches and track the movement of vehicles through a centralized control room.

‘‘Right now some discussions are going on with RITES, which is the consultant for the project. It will take around one more month before we float the tender,’’ said a senior traffic police official. After that, the process for finalizing the tender will take well over two months as the cops will hold pre-bid meetings to clear doubts, carry out a technical evaluation of bidders and have a financial bid.

The tender document gives the bidder about 18 months from the day the contract is awarded to get the systems in place. With barely eight months left for the games, it is almost impossible to have the system running on the games routes, as planned earlier.

The police are already looking for alternatives. ‘‘We are planning to put up some temporary cameras and equipment on key roads for the Games. If the tender gets finalized in time, some components of the ITS proposal may be put up too. But traffic management will happen the way it does at present. The only difference is that one lane will be reserved for Games traffic,’’ the official added.

This has come as a major setback for the police as intelligent signals would have ensured more efficient management of traffic, which is going to be a major concern during the Games. Traffic police feels that ITS is something that can solve problem of congestion on Delhi’s roads.

Intelligent signals take a volume count of the number of vehicles at an intersection and automatically adjust the available time for green signal on the basis of changing traffic demand. An area comprised of a group of traffic signals is selected where vehicle detectors are put up on all approach lanes to each intersection. The detectors assess the volume of traffic waiting at an intersection and also the number of vehicles headed towards it. The data is sent to a central server, a master computer, which in turn is connected to the signal controllers or the brains of each of the traffic signals.

The central computer uses electronic signals to instruct the intelligent signal controllers to switch on green light on the side with the heaviest stream of traffic,
thereby facilitating continuous flow of traffic in that direction. The existing signaling system works on signal cycles, where fixed time frames are pre-set for change of signals irrespective of real-time assessment of traffic.

According to the plan that envisages a complete overhaul of traffic management in the city, in addition to ITS for better traffic management, the police are also planning to fit video cameras on selected roads. The cameras will relay real-time images of roads to a centralized control room, and give auto alerts in case of jams caused by accidents or vehicular breakdowns.

There will also be a red-light speed cameras and Automatic Number Plate Recognizer (ANPR) cameras that will read number plates of vehicles flouting traffic norms and send the data for generation of challan slips. Variable Message Sign (VMS) boards, meanwhile, will give road users information about road conditions on their route.