Saturday , 16 November 2019

Dovetailing Smart Streets

Identification of Smart Street Elements

The plans for first 20 smart cities constitute elements like smart parking, smart street lighting and traffic monitoring. For the success of initiatives like this one, there is a need to list out the end-user’s problems and expectations for comfortable use of streets in order to plan for appropriate solutions. Table below lists out some of these and the potential planning parameters evolving from the same to dovetail the solutions.

Solutions for Smart Streets

The case of Nagpur smart street points to end-user parameter based solutions as need of the place. With advent of technology, there are several possible solutions, however, locating a few select streets can help the administration do a balancing act to meet citizen’s expectations. In case of Nagpur project we see out of 41 road segments eight segments do call for some intervention merging into main 6.1Km stretch designated as “Smart Street”. These segments feed in users there by becoming most important contributors for requirements to be planned. Out of these seven segments shown in illustration 1, high traffic volume do call for some intervention to regulate traffic. Later such measures are potentially needed at three out of seven junctions which have traffic signals on either side of this stretch.

The information sharing forms one of the main success factors on agility in infrastructure projects like the one under reference. The facilities like ATMs, medical shops, pathology labs, nursing homes need to get distinguished on such road segments for easy accessibility. The coverage of mobile phones make these accessible with significant ease, if location information is mapped. The assistance of pedestrians too is a point of consideration. A smart card or a ‘City Card’ used on shuttle bus service in congested segments shall encourage users to park vehicles at a distance and use an alternative transport. The card can become souvenir for the city and banks, even other establishments too would join in promoting it as a cash card. Such options make these even more user friendly for parking across the city, bus service and the shopping / eateries considering the user segments on such road stretches.

Street maintenance too is of upmost importance as such infrastructure elements like water / sewer / power/ telecom lines form the integral part. These need mapping and access for maintenance to minimize outages. The forced measures also need planning as capacity thresholds for these segments need monitoring. Retractile bollards and smart sensors along road junctions can help watch the extent of congestion with vehicle volume information on road stretches. Use of these before signal can stop further entry of vehicles or increase green time of signal real-time in particular section of streets and guide the traffic to adjacent lanes to ease the movement.

Nursing homes / diagnostic centers / food plazas are locations where circulation facilitation is a key requirement. The abutting road areas need designated parking spaces exclusive for users like patients visiting hospitals. The shoulders along these road, if paved with different color can distinguish these from other spaces making it easy for users to abide by the regulations. The information signage form important guiding aid to users; the real-time information displays listing vacant parking lots and congestion in segments ahead potentially helps users to decide to take alternative routes or use available parking close by.

These smart street solutions can be categorized under following types with some of the potential works packages as listed below.

1. Traffic control solutions
o Vehicle density sensing mechanism at junctions
o Smart road marking to gauge street space availability Vs capacity with respect to flow.
o Forced mechanism like bollards to restrict movement during specific times
o Information displays like – parking spaces availability

2. Information Signage
o Locations of ATMs, Labs, etc. with geo referencing for mobile based access.
o Restrooms , bus stop locations

3. Right of way
o Demarcation of lanes, parking bays and pedestrian walk areas with colors.
o Provision of street furniture, use of solar lights, pezo electric cells on walkways.
o Clubbing of street vendors at select locations like bus stops.

4. Building regulation reforms
o Built up spaces used for medical facilities need designated patient parking areas
o Buildings housing nursing homes need to have elevators.

In recent times, we have seen that the solutions on offer vary significantly in terms of value added features and mechanisms of information sharing. One key aspect in all smart initiatives is the use of technology for provision of improved service to end-user. It is important to gauge the requirement of the customers for such projects and provide the best suited solution which gets used by citizens. Their readiness to pay for the services establishes the viability for initiatives like Smart Streets.

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