Ticon: a technology that changes the world of traffic
In the recent years, many companies have invested in driver navigation support in the hope that this way the traffic will be redistributed automatically, and traffic situation in the cities will improve significantly. The US Federal Government also indicated its interest in the Smart City concept, and particularly in transportation, making available significant funds for the implementation of new technologies in current practice . With all the dedicated effort by the interested parties, extensive information sharing begins to take place , but obviously it does not achieve the desired outcome . To become “Smart”, a city must be clever enough to ensure the most effective use of every road in every moment. That means continuous effort in:
signal timing update,
optimal support of road repairs and incidents, which temporary decrease road capacity,
rational planning of the transportation network development.
For effective implementation of these efforts, the information on traffic flow volumes and densities on the roads is critically needed. The data on current speed, congestion and incidents is sufficient for navigation tasks, but not enough for traffic control and infrastructure development. Transportation professionals need to have current and historical information on traffic flow volumes and densities for every road, large or small, across the whole network. Otherwise it is virtually impossible to improve the quality of signal timing optimization and transportation planning.
Unfortunately, currently the information on traffic flow volumes and densities is available only for very few locations equipped with state of the art traffic detectors. Overall, it is fair to say that the network coverage is much less than 10% of the total. Considering high equipment and installation cost, as well as indefinite need in detector maintenance and turn-up, it is hard to expect significant expansion. It’s not surprising, then, that at a current level of informational support the quality of traffic lights operation in the United States is scored at a very modest D+ rating .
Ticon is the first ever technology that is able to support not only effective transportation planning but also optimal operation of signalized intersections by instantly and inexpensively supplying information on traffic flows for all roads and all approaches, virtually anywhere.
The significance of Ticon technology in the Smart City concept is well-illustrated by twodimensional traffic map (TD map), which can be created for any city just in a few days’ time. Unlike the usual navigation charts, all the routes here - large and small streets - have not just different ‘speed’ color but also different widths, proportional to the traffic flow intensity (Fig.1). Ticon TD map provides a whole traffic picture of the city and serves as a base for in-depth understanding of any part of it.
By clicking on a road segment, the traffic engineer can receive graphic diagrams with evaluation of speed, density and volume of traffic on the street, according to the time of day and day of the week (fig. 2).
Ticon’s unique feature is the ability to calculate not only traffic flow but also traffic demand, the consideration of which delivers more opportunities for signal timing optimization. Having flow volume data for all intersectional approaches available and portable to the preferred software, like HCS, Vistro, Synchro or others, makes it very easy to keep signal timing effective and up to date. By specifying Ticon settings for road segments in accordance with local, more in-depth knowledge of road signs and traffic light operating modes, the user can get even more accurate traffic volume/ density/ demand data. Moreover, Ticon technology makes possible an estimation of turning movements. Fig. 3b makes clear how the use of traffic demand instead of traffic flow data allows to allocate additional “green” time for unreasonably low-speed approaches of the intersection. ArteryLite software  allows even higher grade of automation of the optimal signal timing development. Our tests have shown sufficient improvement of intersectional capacity, if optimized with the use of Ticon data (fig 4). Transyt7f and ArteryLite software had been used for modelling and optimizing in this case study.
If capabilities of the controller are insufficient to ensure the required frequency of the timing tables shift (Ticon’s available option), then the intersection should be subject to modernization. The priority of the modernization should be set based on the assessment of the intersection significance, which is also proposed by Ticon technology (another optional feature). Moreover, Ticon offers automated evaluation of the number of timing tables that must be implemented to ensure the optimal management of the given intersection. Accordingly, it is possible to very quickly rank all urban intersections and to determine in what order they should be upgraded: where ATCS implementation is going to be effective, in which precedence TOD optimization should be done, or where hardware capabilities are insufficient and traffic light controller should be changed, etc.
Thus, the use of Ticon technologies in the Smart City concept can substantially increase the level of automation and significantly reduce the cost of introducing the modern technical solutions for traffic management practices today.
The White House. Office of the press secretary. Fact sheet: Announcing Over $80 million in New Federal Investment and a Doubling of Participating Communities in the White House Smart Cities Initiative. Sep 26, 2016.
S. Hendrix. Traffic-weary homeowners and Waze are at war again. Guess who’s winning? Washington post, June 05, 2016
J. Agyeman, D. McLaren. Apps don’t make a city smart. Boston Globe, Aug 14, 2016
2012 National Traffic Signal Report Card. Technical report. ITE, 2012
If ASCT cost effective and operationally effective? ITE Webinar, Feb 2014.