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Helping traffic within an ancient city International Security Journal

Traffic keeps growing in every major city. But exactly how would you beat congestion during these restricted urban spaces? In China's ancient-walled city of Xi'an, they're adopting a smart traffic management system based on Hikvision technology – and boosting traffic flow while reducing journey time.

The Chinese town of Xi’an, referred to as Chang’an in olden days, was the centre of ancient oriental civilization. Thirteen dynasties spanning Chinese history have selected Xi’an as their capital. Today, Xi’an isn't simply a a part of history: it's a high tech hub, renowned across China for its scientific research and education, manufacturing, technology and transportation.

The challenge: Allowing a town to grow and flow within ancient walls

In spite of being a contemporary hub, Xi'an still retains its 'checkerboard' layout in the Tang Dynasty, complete with its border of tall and ancient walls. Nevertheless, while economic growth has allowed the town to develop, the walls place great restrictions around the city's daily movement – especially to the burgeoning traffic. Vehicles are only able to go in and out through the city gates, however with some three million vehicles within the city, the small group of entrances was starting to cause serious congestion.

What's more, there are also many ancient ruins within the city, which were further limiting the development of the urban area. Plus as of 2019 , the city was the place to find over Ten million people, while the quantity of construction projects was steadily increasing.

Managing an increasing city while protecting its history presented a significant challenge to Xi'an. So to address this, Xi'an Urban Traffic Administration turned to Hikvision and its intelligent cameras.

The solution: A smart traffic management system from Hikvision

“Xi'an's city walls make it impossible to improve the size of the urban area. So it was just through technology that we could permit the modern city to grow and develop,” says Lihu Ma, the work Manager from Hikvision. “A core area of the Hikvision solution involves our AI-powered video technology.”

The Xi’an traffic police caused experts from Hikvision, in addition to urban planning experts, internet service providers and other technology companies, to create and implement a smart traffic management system. The making of this system fully utilises Hikvision’s core advantages in urban transportation intelligence, employing AI-powered video to create a powerful traffic sensing system. “Effectively, we are creating a bridge between an intelligent digital world and also the physical urban transportation network in Xi'an,” explains Lihu.

The technical solution

The intelligent traffic management system analyses comprehensive and detailed data about the movement of traffic through the urban Xi'an area and uses the insight gathered to make the flow of traffic more smoothly in three key ways.

Comprehensive traffic violation monitoring

Xi’an traffic mother and father installed Hikvision's Checkpoint Capture Cameras and Intersection Violation Capture Units as part of a monitoring system that can detect illegal vehicle behaviour at intersections.

These full view ultra-high zoom cameras record vehicles making illegal manoeuvres – such as running red lights, making banned turns and illegal lane changes – in real time. What's more, the latest sonar monitoring equipment is getting used to detect illegal utilization of car horns in banned areas.

Visual integrated command and dispatching platform

Using real-time video streams from Hikvision Traffic Flow Capture Cameras, a number of road condition perception technologies, plus intelligent mobile apps, Xi’an traffic police has established a visual command and control centre, coupled with a smart police dispatch system.

All information is aggregated and dynamically displayed on a sizable screen within the command and control centre. In the event of a traffic incident, the system generates dispatch recommendations intelligently, based on the location and distribution of traffic police officers throughout the city. Those closest to an accidents get an automated message for their mobile terminals, enabling them to reach the scene quickly.

More importantly, the intelligent traffic management system uses advanced machine learning capabilities to gain understanding of typical congestion patterns, in order to actively identify potential traffic events before they happen. By analysing bulk of road condition data and information from Hikvision's intelligent video cameras, the system can predict which intersections are most prone to congestion and when, enabling traffic police to place evasive measures in position before serious issues arise.

Improved vehicle flow capacity with intelligent signal control

The Xi'an traffic management team also employs congestion management practices to ease the flow of traffic, largely through the optimisation of signal timing.

Using Hikvision intelligent video cameras coupled with augmented reality (AR) technology, the intelligent traffic management system analyses traffic flow data and dynamically alters the timing of signal lights accordingly. It will monitor traffic flow, queue length and average driving speed in all directions of intersections in real-time, automatically adjusting signal timing to optimise the flow of vehicles.

Benefits: Traffic throughput up by 10%, journey time down by 12%

The Xi’an traffic management system has been trained having a insightful traffic data, including Hikvision video, enabling it to build multiple intelligent algorithms for managing congestion in the city.

First of all, map-based congestion reports suggest that Xi’an’s congestion rankings have improved significantly. Actually, compared with the test outcomes of pilot roads prior to the system went live, intelligent signal control alone has increased the throughput of traffic by 10%, while the average vehicle journey time is reduced by about 12%.

What's more, driver behaviour is improving and drivers have become more compliant using the rules of the road. Traffic police force data reveals those visitors offences are usually decreasing, with traffic violations visiting some 30% in one short-term observation.

Additionally, thanks to the proactive traffic incident warning function, the incident detection rate seems to have improved by a lot more than 30% compared to the traditional model. Using the continuous optimisation from the system algorithm, plus ongoing installation of monitoring equipment, the precision of the identification is only going to improve.

In the process of urbanisation, tackling congestion isn't just about improving the flow of the transportation network: it's also basic governance for creating a smart city.

You will discover much more about Hikvision's intelligent traffic solution here.