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Thursday , 18 April 2024

Bangalore does it with Blackberry

Which are the other ways of collecing data?

The most authentic way is collection through cameras. The other system is traffic scan through Mobile Density to measure traffic density at the junctions. Congestion is identified by using density of mobile devices currently existing under a particular mobile tower. However, the system is capable of identifying congestions only at and around junctions and the measure doesn’t give the directional intelligence.

Then there is the third part, the GPS devices, which are now fitted on all the 600 BMCT Volvo buses. The speed of the bus is an indication of traffic congestion; if it is going very slow, there is congestion and if it is going fast, there is no congestion. The facility is used to identify congestion across the roads of Bangalore and a real-time GIS reporting mechanism projects the data into a map of the city. Any deviation from the non-peak hour base time is used to identify three traffic patterns – heavy traffic (red), medium congestion (orange) and free flowing traffic (green). So we have three sources of information – cameras, mobile density and GPS inputs and of course, the people.

Coming to the dissemination of information…

The changing of signal timings is possible only through the processing of the data. From TMC, we can make the change in phase timings without anybody realising . Even the junction police constable will not notice because the increase or decrease of 10 seconds in every cycle of 200 seconds is not noticeable. The third part is dissemination. Whatever we are doing needs to be communicated to people. Radio jockeys sit in the TMC with their laptops and gather not only traffic information but also what they see on the screen gives them more news!

We followed Mumbai in sending SMS alerts. Currently, 14,000 people receive our alerts at 9am and 6pm everyday. We also give information through variable messaging systems (VMS). Huge electronic sign boards are connected live to the TMC from where messages are relayed using radio frequency waves to help people avoid traffic snarls and make informed choices. We are using the same pipe of connectivity for cameras, for signals and for VMS. People send us messages about processions or accidents. Our website is updated five times a day. The per day hits are around 300-400. The traffic police gives an exhaustive list of information about the department, interface for payment of fines and provisions for submitting complaints and suggestions.

Who are the system providers?

We have various agencies. Since we started from scratch, it has been a learning process. The signals are supplied by BEL and software from multiple vendors like Cisco, Wipro, Infosys and Mindtree. Controlling the signals is a technology by itself. We have an integrated complaints monitoring system and any defect in any signal gets registered automatically. There is no manual intervention. All the completed and pending complaints are readily available. The system is further enhanced because we have 750 blinkers along with 325 signals. Even if one blinker is not working, a complaint will be logged. If a computer is not working in the police station, the officer will file a complaint. If a VMS board is not working, there will be a complaint. Our uptime of signals and cameras is almost 95% and if it goes below that level, we stop all payments to the vendors. There are about 20 vendors, so we have a project manager to coordinate.

You may have to realign your ITS once the metro work gets completed…

Why Metro, when the airport got shifted, we had to realign our system. The character of the City changed, so we had to do the whole survey once again. It’s a huge exercise. All data, all statistics changed. Tomorrow, Metro will bring in changes and more refinement. And that is why having connectivity first is important. Many cities bring the equipment first and don’t think of connectivity. Our strength in Bangalore is end to end connectivity in network; our officer has BlackBerry which is in real-time connected to the police station computer, to RTO to TMC and to our signals. We are ahead because we have used a total different model of providing connectivity first.

What more you want to add on ?

We want to bring in Parking Information System which will indicate the parking slots available through SMS to the visitors to a mall or a cinema. And we could also put that information on our VMS. We have connected to three computerised parking lots and want to do more. The second part is to increase the reach of the alert systems to reach to about one lakh people. There are situations where we can’t solve the problem in a hurry, but we can at least prevent people from getting stuck. The most important programme, however, is the construction of a proper TMC with a huge video wall which will support about 100 monitors & workstations.We are spending around 30crore on it. It is a seven storey building, 60,000sqft, and talking only about technology.

And then of course, we will escalate the number of cameras by including 100 more junctions which we have not done because of Metro construction and other developmental work.

What about handling drunk driving?

First thing is, I want people to understand that I’m not asking people not to drink. It is not my business. I am only saying that if you are drunk, you should not drive. What is important is how many people have been booked. The figures are: 2006 – 27000; 2007- 27000; 2008 -30000; 2009 – 38000 and 2010 – 62000 till Nov. Now it should not be interpreted to conclude that more people are drinking and driving. The fact is that our tolerance for drinking and driving has become extremely low. We have 200 alcometers imported from Germany. These are calibrated every three months and certified. In 2008, if we stopped and checked 100 people, we fined those who were found drunk 50-60. Today, the number of people is 10 out of 100, that means less people are drinking and driving. We tell people to hire a taxi to go home after a party. And last year we noticed, because of fear, people opted for staying back at the hotel raising the hotel occupancy. The taxis were fully booked and the taxi business had gone up too.

We have carried out a highly successful campaign through radio, newspapers, volunteers, NGOs etc. In Mumbai, judiciary is very proactive and people are sent to jail. Here no one is going to jail. But we overcome that defect by enhancing penalties for repeat offenders and by other ways of controlling.

Now how do you measure the success of drunken driving campaign? You don’t measure it by the cases booked. I can bring down the numbers by zero tomorrow by not booking, that doesn’t mean people are not drinking and driving. Statistics of people booked for drunken driving are deceptive. The real criterion is reduction in number of self accidents where no other vehicle was involved. Now 99% of self accidents are caused by drunk driving. But it doesn’t come on record because when somebody died you would not say he was drunk. You don’t do alcohol test on a dead body. Self accidents, numbers are 168 (2006), 143 (2007), 121 (2008), 111 (2009) and may be 90 in 2010. So self- accidents have come down by about 50%. This is the real measure of success of drunken driving campaign.


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