Today, road users provide huge amounts of “big data” to other cars, road ways and guidance systems and operations that help make those cities safer and easy to manage. One part of this increasingly complex concept is called ROAD TRAFFIC MONITORING, a practice not yet common in Uganda and the reason many neighbors laughed at us when we found a contractor to track vehicle movements.
The ideal practice should be to monitor our road infrastructure since there is no crime that can be successful minus involvement of a transit route (what ever crime is committed one will escape using the nearby road, reason it is a must practice to monitor the road network in all modern societies).
In the 2021/2022 parliament approved national budget budget, we see UNRA taking the lion’s share of our national budget with shs3.1 trillion, only next to ministry of defense with a Shs3.4 trillion allocation. With a data driven road agency we could profit from truckers who transit through Uganda to the deeper Africa since we do offer them a road network service. But our geographical location just puts a strain to the infrastructure therefore need for patriotic honest custodians to manage and maintain in order for Uganda not to find itself in an exorbitant cyclical frequency of road repairs.
Through accurate traffic data collection, UNRA can litigate its shortfalls. In the annual road sector performance report, there indications that financing of the road development programs remains constrained and not in harmony with the UNRA’s five-year plan after the authority closed the financial year with a debt of Shs215b, which limits it from achieving the NDP III objectives. Not a constrained budget only but Uganda being a major transit route to the mineral rich deep Central African states, the Ugandan road network gets to be the most effected by poor axle weights enforcement even after having good laws that can aid protect the most funded budget sector.
The law says a single-axle truck must not carry more than eight tonnes. A truck with three axles is restricted to 24 tonnes while one with seven axles can only carry 56 tonnes, but even with such a clear law, Uganda’s road network continues to wear off in record speeds due to poor enforcement practices.
Even after UNRA claiming to have a highly paid enforcement team that is even aware of what constrains overloaded trucks put on our road network, still they fail us and turns axle weights enforcement into an avenue of extortion with errant truck drivers colluding with officials manning mostly mobile enforcement scales (Mobile axle enforcement is seen as practice that has created fortunes for UNRA staffs) as they let overloaded trucks through freely or after paying a pittance in fines, negligence corruption, inefficiency is all at display in this syndicate corruption that can only be solved if we had the will to implement modern intelligent traffic systems such as HSWIM, anti weight bridge violation systems, traffic data collection and counter systems. Only such systems can reduce bribery and corruption.
Cities and national road authorities world over have intensified traffic data collection as the only solution to infrastructure maintenance and protection. ROAD TRAFFIC MONITORING as a practice captures vehicle-generated traffic data, wirelessly providing information such as advisories from the infrastructure to the vehicle that inform the driver of safety, mobility, or environment-related conditions. Internationally State and local agencies are increasingly building road monitoring infrastructures alongside or integrated with existing ITS equipment.
With technology integrations, every car on the road could be communicating all of its contextual data ten times per second. With all of this “big data” there is a compelling need for a new platform to analyze all of the data. Information that would be collected and analyzed include car systems including speed, direction and maintenance information.
In addition, cabin conditions including number of occupants, cabin environment and air quality, even passenger health conditions which can be critical to provide other vehicle alerts as well as potential “falling asleep” indications. External to the vehicle and important to all vehicles comes from transportation agencies providing customized alerts to vehicles’ onboard displays based on their geo-locations and specific driving conditions.
In a connected transportation system, vehicles “talk” and share data with each other, helping one know if the other has stopped, or is slowing down or has been in a crash. The infrastructure talks to vehicles, telling them if a sharp curve or construction zone is coming up. A connected transportation system also accelerates the advancement of autonomous vehicles by enabling the sharing of data and warnings instantaneously from connected vehicles, augmenting information collected from sensors and cameras.
This data gathered and deployed will not only help the driver with critical safety warnings such as low visibility, multi-vehicle pileups or sun glare; it can be also used for mobility applications like smart truck parking and varying speed limits as needed. This data has the potential to help pinpoint where investments need to be made in road planning and safety as well as optimizing maintenance.
Estimates are that a connected transportation system could reduce crashes by 80 percent and quadruple highway capacity. Data is the new oil, driving the way to the future, Transportation systems developers are realizing close collaboration with transportation departments bring faster results required as “big data” infrastructure systems can bring viable benefits to the driving population today.
Beyond what we know today is that driver-less, driver-assisted and other variations of smart vehicles are emerging and what we know now is being realized as having a short technology lifespan. See Figure for evolution of CV-connected vehicles. What is very intriguing is gathering “big car data” and building smart simulations to be constantly evolving as rapidly as the vehicle technology is changing.
The US Department of Transportation noted in their analysis called Connected Vehicle Impacts on Transportation Planning thus; “Many of the analysis tools currently employed by researchers and practitioners for the evaluation and optimization of transportation facilities are at risk of becoming outdated or limited in their relevance/usefulness as CV technologies become more prevalent on the market.” This puts an urgent demand for highly evolving technological integrations such as accurate road monitoring, as roads and highways are very expensive systems requiring often more complex planning systems, political, environmental, materials and more than we understand, the “big picture” gets even bigger.
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