Nothing is ever too high tech for Hyderabad. The city’s traffic police has now come up with an ambitious new plan to automate traffic regulation. And ‘smart’ is not good enough, say the cops. They want ‘intelligent’ systems. And they are willing to spend over Rs 100 crore for it.
July 2017 is the target date for the first phase of the ITMS – Intelligent Traffic Management System – to be rolled out in the southern city. An advanced signalling system used in several European countries as well as in China, the ITMS is being modified to suit Indian traffic conditions by infrastructure firm L&T, which has bagged the Rs 104 crore contract to set it up.
“I call this ITMS as a green system as it reduces emission, travel time and also it is user and people friendly,” said Jitender, Additional Commissioner of Police – Traffic, Hyderabad. “The public can interact with it, they can post their feedback and this system will interact with social media also,” he explained.
The idea, according to the cops, is to have no cops! Cop-less junctions are what the ITMS wants to achieve.
How ITMS works
Since 2012, Hyderabad city’s traffic has been regulated by the HTIMS – the Hyderabad Traffic Integrated Management System – an automated signal system controlled at a command centre. The existing system has ‘vehicle sensing’ features – if there are no vehicles at a junction, the signal automatically shifts to allow the side with vehicles to flow smoothly.
“The present HTIMS system might be smart but not intelligent,” continued ACP-Traffic Jitender. “It senses the presence and absence of the vehicles but it does not sense the volume of the vehicles.”
What the ITMS, which is to be integrated into the existing HTIMS, does is to get vehicle count and classification automated. This information is then transmitted to the subsequent junctions on large digital signboards so that commuters would have an idea of where the traffic is flowing. Alternate routes to avoid heavy traffic areas too would be displayed on these boards.
“Wrong side driving is more common in Hyderabad,” said Jitender. “Violations will be captured by cameras and the owner of the vehicle will get alerts to his mobile if he jumps the signal,” he said. The cameras would be what are known as ANPRs – Automated Number Plate Recording System. These cameras can capture vehicle numbers at any speed and help in better policing.
Police say sensors would be installed to detect the level of water on water logged roads and pass on this information to the commuters.
While the Traffic Police is gung-ho about this new system, experts feel that to make it work on the ground and make a difference would be a long shot. “If you want to implement such sophisticated infrastructure you have to see that people should be a little tech savvy,” said Jasveen Jairath, an activist on issues relating to urbanisation. “All these things are part of governance - in this you can’t make one part highly tech-based and neglect the other part like people. Half of the existing CCTV cameras don’t work. If we can’t take care of simple technology, how can we expect such a sophisticated technology to operate in India? Our people are mostly first generation drivers and they hardly know the rules. It’s a waste of time and money in implementing this system,” said Jairath.
Police too admit that there could be many slips between the cup and the lip in getting this project off the ground as envisaged. “The entire traffic management is the responsibility of transportation and infrastructure wing,” said ACP-Traffic Jitender. “Transportation means the department which owns and maintains these roads. Police only does three things - speed management, drunken driving, crash investigation in case of any accident. Here if we ask them to fill potholes in the roads, they think we are interfering in their work. We have suggested to government that it should handover the traffic to the transportation and infrastructure department,” he added.