How Technology Mega Trends are Impacting Traffic Control – Part Two

Mobile Device

In the last blog article, we reviewed Kurtis McBride’s presentation from CITE and TexITE in April 2013. This presentation covered the four trends that are impacting traffic control and will have significant impact in the future.

Last blog covered the first two trends, cloud computing and increase in wireless communications. In this second part, we cover the last two trends, mobile devices and NTCIP standards.


Increase in Mobile Devices

waze_logoOn a similar note to wireless, mobile devices are providing the opportunity for open source app creation from providers such as Green Owl or Waze.

For example, before going to the cottage or an event in downtown Toronto, you can load up Green Owl and it will tell you  where the congestion is. This app is crowd sourced and used by so many people that it’s able to aggregate data which can be used by anyone on their smart phones.


Some companies are also using anonymous cell phone signals in order to aggregate traffic densities putting that information into a map i.e. Google maps traffic view.

This has also been used to generate real-time origin destination and travel time information. If you combine this data set with some of the computing power now available, there are some interesting applications and opportunities for traffic control.


National Transportation Communications for Intelligent Transport System Protocol (NTCIP) Standards

Regardless of all the new technologies that are emerging with cloud computing, wireless and mobile devices, you have to be able to talk to the traffic controller. This is where NTCIP comes into play.

What is NTCIP? It stands for National Transportation Communications for Intelligent Transport System Protocol and was developed in 1996 by AASHTO, ITE, and NEMA, with funding from the FHWA. It is a family of standards that provides the rules for communicating (protocols) and the vocabulary (objects) necessary to allow electronic traffic control equipment from different manufacturers to operate with each other as a system.

Typically if you used one vendor, you had to use all of their solutions in order to have it all function. The NTCIP aims at opening up the standards and providing options in traffic control. However, it takes time for these standards to become devices and then for the devices to get mainstream adoption.  NTCIP is just starting to get penetration in traffic control field. Miovision’s research roughly predicts about 20-25% of intersections in North America have NTCIP and if we can start doing innovative things with data using the cloud, we can start affecting change through the controls that run NTCIP at the intersections.


How These Mega Trends in Technology Will Affect Traffic Control in the Future

Green LightsIf you combine the ubiquity of access from M2M with the mobile device data that is starting to come online and process this data with servers and infrastructure such as Amazon (but on a smaller scale) and add NTCIP and communicate with the controllers on the side of the road, in time, we can accomplish a number of things.

First, there will be an  increase in capacity for existing roadways from utilizing this aggregated data and making decisions in real time. By improving the efficiency of the existing roadways, there is a potential to increase capacity by more than 20%, depending on existing infrastructure.

Secondly, we can also democratize the driving experience to some degree. For example, third parties can develop applications that can be utilized with a mobile device in order to access real-time traffic data, conditions, and other relevant information that is related to driver experience.

These four trends are already starting to impact ITS and traffic control. as time passes, there will be a higher adoption of these technologies into the traffic space and in turn, will increase the capabilities of traffic control solutions.

To learn more about Miovision and how you can improve your traffic control, talk to a specialist at Miovision.