Connectivity and Smart Highways

By : |August 14, 2019 0

India’s legacy in contributing to the development of the human race has been widely known. One such domain where India literally ‘paved’ the way for the world to observe was during the Indus Valley civilization when the advent of roads took place for smooth passage of goods and services. The country continues to take this legacy forward with a nationwide road network that is ranked No.2 in the world in terms of road length in kilometres.

One important element of India’s road network is highways. In a country as large and diverse as India, highways are the bridge that holds the country together. Though the national highways consume only 1.7% of all Indian roads, they control 40% of road traffic in India. Even as of today, over 30,000 kms of new highways are reportedly under construction.

As time changes, so must our approach towards constantly improving and rebuilding road safety, to enhance ease of life on the road. In India alone, more than 150,000 people are killed each year in traffic accidents. Moreover, due to the generally remote nature of highways, timely medical care is always a challenge.

However, in the present day scenario where the conventional physical world can be transformed into a digital ecosystem to derive rich meaningful business insights the age-old pertinent challenges can be addressed for the larger interest of all stakeholders. The umbrella ecosystem for such a holistic framework is popularly termed as Smart Highways.

Smart Highways employ use of new-age digital technology concepts such as IoT, analytics, automation to cite a few. And a common thread connecting it all is….broadband connectivity.

Connectivity can greatly enhance security on highways by enabling multiple instruments to aid the cause and ensure safety. For instance, IP video cameras can capture every single incident on the highway when supported by Smart Highway systems. It can monitor everything right from daily traffic control aspects, to the security of infrastructure and highway assets, License Plate Recognition (LPR) data capture, detection of roadway construction crews and equipment, mobile (nomadic) incident scene command and control needs, and beyond.

Wireless connectivity can also optimize and allow digital signage, a process that can greatly aid in avoiding potential accidents and mishaps on the road. The primary purpose of Digital Messaging Signs (DMS) is to alert drivers to incidents and unexpected conditions. They may give general information, such as “congestion ahead,” or specific details as to the location of an accident or predicted travel time to a particular destination.

Additionally, an emergency call box system can also be implemented within for a smart highway, which is an end-to-end solution for roadside assistance in case of emergency.

Connectivity also institutes for advanced technology to regularly assess road conditions, in order to create a much more accurate analysis of the health of Highways, and predict impending disasters on the road. Road Weather Information Systems (RWIS) can be widely deployed throughout smart highway systems to continuously report on important atmospheric and road-related conditions. A RWIS will comprise of Environmental Sensor Stations (ESS) in the field, a communication system for data transfer, and a central server to collect field data from numerous sensor stations.

ESS, when powered by connectivity can typically measure local atmospheric conditions such as temperature, wind, humidity, air quality, etc. This, in turn, can majorly help avoid mishaps and help issue warnings. The system can also calculate pavement water levels and conditions such as ice, salt and snow, so as to gauge any imminent danger.

Apart from providing a much higher standard of safety on the highways, connectivity can also help aid a multitude of causes that can pave the way forward for a better future.

Providing connectivity to all, and penetrating even the smallest pockets of India is fast emerging as an extremely powerful tool to bridge the gap and truly empower the people of India. To quote the Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman herself, ”Connectivity is the lifeblood of an economy.”

However, it is not unusual to find small and remote communities still struggling to find an economically feasible way to gain access to basic internet services for their residents. Since highways are, in many ways, the branches that connect our country, they can also be leveraged to connect the unconnected.

Highway ministries can strategically and advantageously operate as a wireless internet service provider (WISP) in these remote areas, offering cost-effective services to underserved communities.

Another tactical strongpoint for enabling Smart Highways is the marked improvement in efficiency and the amount of time and manual labour it will save. For instance, wireless toll collection infrastructure can enable Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) which will reduce delay on toll roads, HOV lanes, toll bridges, and toll tunnels by collecting cashless tolls from cars in motion. This will also allow for setting up of Electronic toll booths, which can operate alongside cash lanes so that drivers without transponders can pay manually.

While today engineers and automakers continue to advance innovations with multiple new developments in the automation section such as self-driven cars, autonomous technology, and advanced vehicle communication systems, the one area of automation that has not seen as much advancement and has a huge untapped potential is roadway technologies.

In order to cope with the growing needs of expansion and development, thousands of highways are under construction all over the world, the Smart Highways System has the potential to reduce maintenance costs and eliminate unnecessary construction expenses associated with many highway improvement projects. It can leverage upon existing highways and transform it through connectivity, in the process greatly enhancing productivity, efficiency, and cost reduction. It will save thousands of lives in the process, by facilitating advance technology that can be deployed to ensure road safety and enhance traffic control on highways.

In conclusion, one can say that connecting the earlier unconnected has been made possible by modern-day connectivity solutions to an extent that can transform the deadly highways into an intelligent Smart Ecosystem that is of convenience and safety to all.

By Rajiv Kapoor, Vice President, India & SAARC, Cambium Networks

No Comments so fars

Jump into a conversation

No Comments Yet!

You can be the one to start a conversation.