Cloud Based Traffic Technology

07 29 2020
April Spears

Cloud Based Traffic Technology

Cloud technology is a pretty common feature for a number of industries. Access to information sharing, communication between disparate offices, networks, and other users, and off-site data collection or storage make it an ideal option for our modern world. It’s great because it gives us the opportunity to be further apart without losing out on the same vital connections that help us run a business or communicate.

So how does cloud technology help with traffic and road safety? 

With a greater capacity for connecting a variety of monitors, sensors, and other standard traffic tech, cloud technology allows cities and companies to create an interwoven network of traffic safety features. That network has the potential to improve safety, while also working to more efficiently teach us about the areas that need or benefit from specific types of traffic signals.

Practical Applications

Thinking about the more realistic outcome of applying cloud tech to a specific intersection or part of a city, we can draw some examples that better illustrate how and why this new technology is so valuable.

Think about your standard intersection. You’re probably familiar with the lights, the crosswalk, and maybe the idea that there’s some kind of synchronization between this intersection and other others up or down the road.

At the moment, the majority of intersections and light fixtures are controlled by timer systems. That means based on the average traffic an area gets or is expected to get, the lights change and control the flow of traffic on an automated timer system. 

Now while these are pretty advanced today, they still require manual adjustments whenever a change is needed. This can be done remotely or directly in the timer box, but at the end of the day someone still has to actually sit down and make the change.

How Cloud Technology Could Change This

By expanding the network and increasing the available information at intersections, perhaps through modifications that allow pressure and traffic sensors to communicate with the timers, you can further automate adjustments to the light timing in a couple of ways.

  1. Directly changing the timing.

Through fine tuning, it could be possible to more fully automate the process of changing a timer to fit the current needs of a certain roadway or traffic signal. 

At the moment, traffic signals typically communicate and operate in a series, based on timers or a smart system of sensors. Timer systems work better in high traffic areas with a more predictable flow of traffic, and smart systems work better in areas with a more sporadic flow of traffic.

By adding cloud technology into the mix, timer systems could become a more efficient traffic flow control system by recognizing traffic patterns, incorporating sensors, and communicating with the traffic signals, lights, and other elements of the interconnected network. 

Essentially, there’s room to improve traffic flow through efficient communication and changes that would otherwise require direct effort from a technician or traffic monitor. 

  1. Acquiring more accurate pattern data.

The next way cloud tech can improve our traffic technology is by providing us with more accurate data. Currently we rely on projections and estimates, or more hands on assessments of how certain areas are affected by motorist or pedestrian use.

Cloud technology can bring together traffic sensor systems, information from intersections, and potentially GPS recognition software to give us a fuller picture of traffic patterns in any given area. The more accurate our information, the better we can build and outfit roadways to suit their use over time.

If we build our roadways to be more adaptive and take advantage of “smart systems” like automated signal control and data collection, we can save a lot of people a lot of time and money. Roadways can be built to accommodate current and future traffic patterns, and we can add or subtract technology along those roadways based on the additional information telling us whether or not these things are necessary or well suited for the road.

  1. Centralizing traffic control.

Finally, cloud technology offers a more centralized and complete picture of traffic in all the connected areas. By expanding the network and centralizing the information, it can give the organizations in charge of controlling, monitoring, and improving traffic and roadways more control over a wider area.

Improving their ability to focus and direct changes as needed is a great way to improve traffic across a much larger stretch of roadways. Typically, traffic is something that affects whole cities. Think of how your GPS looks when you open it up and it tells you X or Y road is shut down for traffic, maintenance, or an accident. 

Someone has to collect and provide that information to whatever system your GPS is relying on. While the system or process for sending someone out to manage whatever situation is going on differs a bit, traffic control is still a pretty significant factor. 

Detours, how detours affect traffic in the main and surrounding areas, and so on are all things that can be improved with a more centralized picture of traffic in a given area. Cloud technology’s capacity for collecting and centralizing data can simplify and significantly improve all of these traffic control aspects, which in turn makes our roadways much safer and easier to travel.

Additional Note on Driver Interaction

Stepping back from the huge scale of traffic operation and maintenance, one of the additional benefits of cloud tech is how it can also interact more directly with drivers to improve safety.

Through systems like motion detection, dynamic warning signs, and more advanced signals that allow for a broader range of information and communication, cloud systems can give actual drivers a more complete picture of their driving environment.

While it still requires an alert and aware driver, this is still a great stride in providing a safer driving experience for everyone. Giving drivers a more active role in both safety and traffic control through a greater scope of signals is ideal because it applies more and more effects as traffic goes up.

These adaptations can be used for all kinds of purposes, and as we continue to build, adapt, and implement this technology, roadways get safer and more efficient. That means less accidents, less traffic, and less pollution, costs, and necessary maintenance as a result of fewer negative roadway interactions. There’s a lot of exciting potential for cloud based traffic technology, we’ve just got to start using it!