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Smarter Traffic Management

26th December 2010

Burgeoning populations, urbanisation and globalisation are stressing transportation networks of major cities.  In most metropolitan cities around the world, the ever-increasing number of vehicles and the limitations in altering transportation infrastructure have led to higher traffic congestion and an increase in travel time.

The need of the hour is to implement intelligent, integrated and effective means of managing traffic flow. Devices built on embedded technology can aid in the development of smarter, integrated, efficient and inter-connected devices that can pave way to the development of a Smarter Traffic Management System. Embedded technology can not only make road transportation more intelligent but also save lives, time and money by reducing congestion, improving safety and minimising vehicle fuel consumption and emissions.

Steering traffic in cities is a very complex task, since improving efficiency involves the coordination of many factors, one of which is the management of signals at road intersections. In traditional traffic management systems, each intersection is controlled by a standalone controller that regulates traffic lights. These controllers work on a basic switching mechanism that control the traffic lights based on a preset interval, and are manually adjustable for peak, normal or low-traffic conditions. The disadvantage of this lies in the fact that traffic configurations change constantly, and since each of these devices work independently, they can seriously hinder smooth traffic flow.

Interconnected and intelligent Traffic Management Systems (TMS) can be the best solution to this problem. A centrally operated TMS can play a vital role in ensuring that the traffic signals work in tandem and complement each other to achieve smoother traffic flow. Intelligent devices built on embedded technology can significantly improve the interoperability and help in the creation of an Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS).

Advanced Traffic Management System – The Smarter Alternative

ATMS can be designed to coordinate the operation of all traffic signals to achieve seamless traffic management. The basis of ATMS is to have a control mechanism at each intersection that has the capability to analyse the traffic and decide when to turn the traffic lights on/off. An array of such systems interconnected through a network and in turn to central control system can enable easier coordination of signals and ensure smoother flow of traffic.

Components of an Advanced Traffic Management System

Traffic Sensors: A varied group of sensors can be deployed at the signals to detect the density of traffic. Sensors can be used to detect motion, density and number of vehicles. Advanced sensors built on embedded technology such as induction-based and proximity-based sensors can detect not only the volume of traffic but also the type and number of each category of vehicles. This can immensely aid understanding the nature of traffic and the timing of the signals at each intersection.

Control Mechanism: The fundamental element of an ATMS is the control mechanism employed at each intersection. The control mechanism will decide the timing of each signal for each direction of the intersection based on the inputs received. To arrive at the signal timing, the control mechanism will need to analyse the inputs it receives from the traffic sensors, the Central Control System or from other controllers at adjoining intersections in the ATMS’s network. The control mechanism can be based on embedded technology that can retain the logic to successfully carry out this task. Being based on embedded technology, these systems can be programmed to include complex algorithms to analyse the inputs and determine the exact time and duration for each signal.

Components of an Advanced Traffic Management System

Network: To achieve seamless operation, the control mechanism needs to be inter-connected with other control mechanisms in the ATMS and also the central computer. Wired or wireless networks can be employed to achieve this interconnectivity. Being based on an Embedded System, the control mechanism can be far easily interfaced with both wired as well as wireless networks. Through this network, the control mechanisms at each intersection will be able to share and receive information from other control mechanisms and the central computer to ensure the coordination of signal switching.

Central Control System: The core component of the ATMS is the Central Control System (CCS) which will orchestrate the entire operation of the ATMS. The CCS can be hosted at a central location where the designated personnel can view and manage the traffic operations. In addition to control of traffic signals, CCS will also offer wide-ranging surveillance capabilities, including various kinds of traffic detection and video surveillance. It can also be built to provide powerful traffic-control algorithms, including the potential for adaptive control and predictive surveillance. The section

“The Major Tasks of the Central Control System”
outlines the tasks to be performed by the CCS.

Benefits of a Smarter Traffic Management System

  • Enhanced Signal Coordination

Helps  achieve maximum “green wave” and enhanced flow of traffic

  •  Better Demand Prediction

Centralised analysis of traffic pattern to better determine traffic cycles and trends in movement

  • Reduced Carbon Emissions

Lesser vehicle idling ensures lesser carbon emission density

  • Increased Efficiency

Enhanced management of traffic can improve operational efficiencies

  • Faster Transit of Emergency Services

Ensures diversion of traffic for faster movement of emergency services such as ambulance, fire and security services

  • Enhanced Safety

Smooth flow of traffic can ensure safety of both commuters and pedestrians.

  • Improvement in Overall Experience

Seamless traffic movements can help improve traveller experience.

The Major Tasks of the Central Control System

  • Manage the master database

CCS organises and manages the traffic data into five categories: the event schedule, the traffic-responsive parameters, detector processing parameters, data logging, and event logging

  • Manage traffic light switch sequence

CCS computes the traffic patterns and sets/modifies the basic switching sequence for signals

  • Communicate with the Control Mechanism

CCS collects traffic information and provides the information on the switching patterns to the Control Mechanisms at each intersection.

  • Display data

CCS can provide a real-time view of the traffic parameters including video to the  authorised users to detect any abnormality and thus take necessary action.

  • Prepare reports

CCS extracts traffic data to aid planning and analysis.


Clearing congestion and improving how people and goods are moved cross-town and cross-region are critical, not only to address quality of life and a cleaner environment but also the economic viability and sustainability of the country as a whole. Traffic Management Systems like the SCATS  (Sydney CoordinatedTraffic management is an adaptation problem than an optimization problem Adaptive Traffic System) from the Roads and Traffic Authority of New South Wales, Australia has proven that effective and flawless management of traffic can be achieved by advanced thinking, strategic planning and integrated execution. However, the increased traffic on the roads calls for systems that have the potential to take quick decisions and ensure smoother flow of traffic. The use of embedded devices with “in-built intelligence” can ensure that the potential of systems such as SCATS is kept abreast to effectively adapt itself to the growing demands of traffic management in cities across the globe.

About LX-Group

LX Group is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. They specialise in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

LX Group offers clients a range of professional solutions designed to take a new product idea from concept through to production and beyond. LX focuses on fully understanding all aspects of a client’s requirements (both technical and business) and works on creating custom-made solutions. LX Group’ expertise in developing electronic products enables a quicker design process and reduces cost in bringing a concept to reality.

Key Differentiators

–   Vast expertise in development and implementation of applications

–   Immense knowledge in design and manufacture of custom–built applications

–   Highly reliable team for design and delivery

–   Enhanced usability and efficiency in the long run

–   Lower TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) compared to generic applications

Keywords: traffic management, embedded system, transportation, traffic flow, signal management, lx , LX, LX Group, LX Group

Published by LX Group for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.

Muhammad AwaisSmarter Traffic Management

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