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ISJ Exclusive: Cities ancient and modern race to be smart


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State-of-the-art smart city solutions from Hikvision are helping to improve public safety all around the world.

Smart cities are described as urban areas that use digital solutions to manage assets, resources and services efficiently. Other key benefits of smart cities include better traffic management and planning, real-time responses to road-traffic incidents, enhanced engagement between citizens and local government organisations and improved security for local people and businesses. To achieve all of this and more, both the Spanish municipality of Tres Cantos and the ancient Chinese city of Xi’an deployed intelligent traffic management solutions from Hikvision.

Congestion and poor traffic management

Tres Cantos is a municipality of Madrid in Spain. Founded in 1991, it is the youngest municipality in the region. The area, which enjoys tree-lined streets, parks and natural spaces, is home to more than 50,000 residents and 3,000 businesses, which attract 36,000 commuters from other areas of Madrid each day. With constant movement of people and vehicles in and out of Tres Cantos, the municipality specifically needed smart city solutions that could monitor traffic conditions in real time – enabling ‘re-routing’ and rapid incident responses to minimise congestion. It also needed new security monitoring technologies to keep local residents and businesses safe, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

About 9,000 kilometres away from Tres Cantos, the ancient Chinese city of Xi’an still retains its “checkerboard” layout from the Tang Dynasty, with its city centre surrounded by the 600-year-old walls. Although the city develops quickly, thanks to the rapid economic growth, the walls place great restrictions on the city’s traffic flow. Vehicles can only enter and exit the city through its ancient gates. With more than three million vehicles in the city, the limited number of entrances was causing serious congestion. There are also many ancient ruins in the city, which were further limiting the development of the urban area. Besides this, the city was home to over 10 million people, while the number of construction projects was steadily increasing. Managing a growing city while protecting its historical heritage presented a serious challenge to the city.

Smart city infrastructure

Tres Cantos has deployed a smart city solution which incorporates a total of 23 Hikvision cameras located at the entrances to the municipality – including Pan Tilt and Zoom (PTZ), PanoVu cameras and license plate recognition (LPR) cameras that provide situational awareness of traffic conditions in real time.

To help the municipality create a visual traffic command and control system, real-time traffic and vehicle information, such as the flow of traffic and car accidents, can be aggregated and dynamically displayed on a wall of screens (video wall) at Tres Cantos Police HQ. Local council officials can view real-time traffic information via Hikvision’s HikCentral video management solution and use the gathered insights to respond to changing traffic conditions effectively, in real time.

Hikvision’s open, scalable, cloud-based solution is compatible with a range of equipment and able to support up to 5,000 connected devices – ensuring that Tres Cantos can easily expand their solution to meet future needs. The solution also offers both wired and wireless connectivity options to support municipality wide situational awareness, with simple management tools that minimise training requirements and costs.

Unlike Tres Cantos, Xi’an’s ancient city walls make it impossible to increase the size of the urban area. “It was only through technology that we can ease the ancient city’s traffic congestion and increase mobility,” says Lihu Ma, the Project Manager from Hikvision.

With the help of Hikvision, Xi’an deployed an intelligent traffic management. Checkpoint Capture Cameras and Intersection Violation Capture Units are installed to detect illegal vehicle behaviour at intersections. Traffic Flow Capture Cameras, along with the road condition perception technology are installed to help Xi’an traffic police create a visual command and control centre, coupled with an intelligent police dispatch system. 

The Xi’an traffic management team also employs congestion management practices to ease the flow of traffic, largely through signal timing optimisation. With the help of Hikvision’s augmented reality (AR) technology, the intelligent traffic management system analyses traffic flow and dynamically alters the timing of signal lights accordingly. The system monitors 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. 

Improved road safety and reduced congestion

With its innovative smart city solution, Tres Cantos has optimised traffic management, accelerated incident responses and improved safety and security for citizens, commuters and local businesses. Jesus Moreno, Mayor of Tres Cantos, says: “We are improving road safety and mobility for both residents of Tres Cantos and for the nearly 35,000 commuters from Madrid who visit our municipality to work each day.”

The local Tres Cantos police department can respond to security incidents faster with the Hikvision solution. Pedro Álvarez, Chief Intendent of Tres Cantos Police Department, says: “Real-time video feeds from the camera network allow us to respond to security incidents much faster and more effectively, while also saving resources compared to physical, routine patrolling.”

Members of the Tres Cantos local council are gaining vital insights into traffic flow across the municipality, supporting better, more timely planning and traffic management decisions and helping to reduce congestion on key roadways. María Del Mar Sánchez Chico De Guzmán, Councillor for Mobility, HR and Security, says: “This system allows us to assess the flow of cars entering and leaving the area. This means we can make decisions that help to ease traffic flow and improve the quality of life of the citizens of Tres Cantos.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Eurasian continent, Xi’an’s traffic has improved significantly. Intelligent signal control alone has increased the throughput of traffic by 10%, while the average vehicle journey time is reduced by 12%. Traffic offences have decreased, with traffic violations dropping by 30%.  The intelligent traffic management system’s advanced machine learning capabilities help the traffic management team to gain insight into typical congestion patterns, identifying potential traffic incidents before they happen and predicting the intersections most prone to congestion. “With the help of intelligent traffic solutions, the ancient city of Xi’an has taken some big steps towards a smart city,” says Lihu Ma.

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This article was originally published in the February 2022 edition of International Security Journal. Pick up your FREE digital edition here.

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