Webcams, changeable message signs, weather stations, counter-flow lanes…. Any idea what these things have in common?
If you guessed that they’re all Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) …nice! We’re also willing to bet you work in the transportation field, because the truth is, it’s not something that gets a lot of attention these days. Until now.
So, what is ITS you ask? It’s the application of advanced and emerging technologies (computers, electronic sensors and communication devices) in transportation to save lives, time, money and energy, and to protect the environment.
And in doing so, we’re also looking to enhance the province’s livability and economic prosperity. Sounds pretty impressive, doesn’t it? Yup, but it also sounds a little vague. Let’s take a look at some examples and discover what it really means.
Our webcams are an obvious place to start. When you’re able to find out real-time information about the routes you want to travel, you’re better informed about what you may encounter, and you can plan your trip accordingly. Knowing what’s ahead, drivers are less likely to be involved in accidents by being unprepared, and that helps to keep roads open and traffic moving.
Smart changeable message signs serve the same purpose, and when they’re connected directly to a weather station, they can let drivers know instantly whether they need to be concerned about pooling water or icy roads.
Counterflow lanes along the Lions Gate Bridge and George Massey Tunnel are other examples of ITS. At certain times of day, they let vehicles use lanes that would otherwise be reserved for oncoming traffic. They’re useful when the majority of traffic is heading in one direction, and they make the most of existing roadway.
And we’ve got lots of other ITS examples. There are special LED signs for road safety and wildlife warnings. There’s the Advanced Traveller Information System that can tell you about traffic backups and wait times for the Lions Gate Bridge as well as our border crossings. There’s Weigh-in-Motion technology, which lets commercial drivers keep moving while being weighed, reducing travel costs and pollution at the same time.
We have a lot more to talk about with ITS, and you can look forward to learning more about it in future posts. In the meantime, leave us a comment below and let us know, have you ever heard of ITS before? Are there any ITS stories you’d like to hear about?