What do we mean by smart highroads, roads, and cities

from 23/08/2017

Georgi Shishmanov, General Manager of Cable Com, and Mihail Mihailov, Commercial Manager at KONTRAX, speaking about the smart highroads, roads, and cities, guests at the studio of Darik Radio, follows an extract from the interview.

Smart things

The term “smart” may be explained very quickly, easily, and understandably, if we replace the word “smart” with “related”. Related and interacting amongst themselves things in one house, one town, or road. The latest development of Internet, when we already speak about “Internet of things”, allows for the fast deployment of these smart technologies in our life. It is already not only the people that connect through Internet, but the objects too. For example: we may connect a sensor, camera, sensor for recognizing poor visibility, object on the roadway, for alerting the drivers kilometres before the relevant section. That is how we have a “smart „road or “smart” highway. This is an affordable technology and KONTRAX has a significant experience with it.

Safety on road

The usual safety measures – guardrails, traffic signs, and controls on roads are necessary, but they ensure the safety to the level we have today. Higher levels of safety can be achieved only using technology. The experience KONTRAX already has with the smart roads shows us that they can:

  • Warn for dangerous weather in way of signs with changeable content located above the roadway
  • Inform about blocked road, for example if the emergency lane is occupied or if there is an accident ahead
  • Signal for poor visibility
  • Recommend new reduced maximum speed so as all traffic participants to be simultaneously warned well before they reach the problematic area

This is easily achieved with quite simple technologies and easy to install sensors, such as:

  • Temperature sensors and sensors for wind, rain, snow, icing
  • Cameras that alarm for blocked road, poor visibility, for example burning stubble-field or fog
  • Sensors that monitor the traffic intensity, speed and type of vehicles
  • Speed sensors can be combined with cameras for vehicle registration numbers recognition, and that could be used for registration of violations. This is the most effective prevention against unreasonable driving.
  • According to EU Directive each vehicle shall have embedded e-call function that will allow the designated GSM module with SIM card to send a signal to phone 122 in case of accident. This module shall be used also for development of V2V and V2X communication.

This is still under the development process and work is undergoing in regard to standardization of mobile communication protocol, the so called G5. Thus, the traffic safety can be significantly increased, if every motor car that happens to be in emergency situation, such as ABS or other security system activation, informs the other vehicles on the road in radius of 300 m that they need to slow down the speed. Chain car accidents on the highroads can be prevented this way.


Safety in tunnels and bridges

Tunnels and bridges are a very sensitive part of the road. They have their peculiarities and no compromise should be done in regard to security. For example, inside a tunnel, due to lack of natural road washing due to rain and wind, the road surface loses its good cohesion and emergency stopping is very difficult.

  • If accidents registration system is available, the drivers will be notified at the tunnel entry that there is a danger ahead
  • Mobile barriers, changeable signs, traffic lights, and lights for attracting attention are means for automatic redirection of drivers to the free way.

Kilometres before the tunnel we will know what is the condition there, and if there is a traffic redirection.
The smart alarm systems should have been implemented long ago. They are well known also with the experience of the Bulgarian companies related to their installation.

Road maintenance

Road maintenance has the most direct relation with roads safety.

The intelligent transport systems, as the official term is, provide sensors that measure the weight of the passing vehicles, and specifically measure the weight of each axis, and simultaneously capture the axes and recognize the vehicle registration numbers. If there is a truck with overload or such that does not use all of its axes, it shall be immediately identified and signal is sent together with all data, speed, hour, location, including a photo of axes that can be used as a proof for road surface overloading.
Another reason is the motion of heavy duty vehicles under the conditions of asphalt high temperatures. And it is very easy again – in way of temperature sensors we can have the information and forbid the traffic for a short period until the asphalt cools down.

These are safety measures that are easy to implement and for which there is enough knowledge and experience in Bulgaria, as KONTRAX is a good example in this regard.

Winter road maintenance. Road meteorological forecasts

It is quite curious and easy to explain the winter road maintenance using the intelligent transport system. The meteorological stations, the ones that KONTRAX has already installed (9 pieces in Bulgaria as a whole) include sensors for rain, wind, temperature, and presence of salt on the road. They make measurements below, on, and above the road surface with the purpose – first, to warn for dangerous conditions, but also for gathering information about the asphalt conditions during the different seasons and day and night hours. A curious detail is that there is a measurement also for presence of salt, i.e. the smart road “knows” if and how the relevant section is processes against icing, as well as the new lower freezing point. On this basis a prognosis can be prepared and the companies in charge for road maintenance may receive a signal 24 hours before road icing, and take the relevant measures to avoid it. Additional function is the control – of the companies perform timely and with good quality their duties.

In 2015 KONTRAX has established an intelligent transport system for the Bulgarian roads. It consists of 200 counting devices in the whole country plus 9 metrological stations.
KONTRAX has installed a unique latest generation high-technology system that covers the entire country. The system operates in full capacity for 2 years now, and the benefits it brings are numerous for not only one institution in Bulgaria. Part of the system is of Bulgarian design, which though based on German technology, is accomplished by Bulgarian companies. That part includes the cameras for vehicle registration numbers recognition. The product is very interesting – it is more like a computer than camera and performs extremely fast processing of images, independently and with high precision and reliability. In many aspects this project realization showed that the Bulgarian companies may take the leading role in the implementation of most modern, latest generation systems.

Our system provides together with numerous data, such as category and direction of the vehicle, also speed, and registration number. Another important function of this recognition and traffic monitoring is discovering of crimes. There are multiple cases where the system installed by KONTRAX is used in the investigation process by law enforcement bodies.


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