Hamilton, Andrew, Waterson, Ben, Cherrett, Tom, Robinson, Andrew and Snell, Ian
Urban traffic control evolution.
In, UTSG: 44th Annual Conference of the Universities' Transport Study Group, Aberdeen, GB,
04 - 06 Jan 2012.
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Urban traffic control (UTC) over the past century has been a continued race to keep pace with ever more complex policy objectives and continually increasing vehicle demand. Without efficient traffic control urban areas suffer from increased congestion, increased pollution, decreased economic efficiency and decreased road safety.
Over the decades, advances in vehicle detection and communications technologies have enabled a series of step changes in the capabilities of UTC systems, from early (fixed time) signal plans to modern coordinated systems. A variety of UTC systems have been implemented throughout the world, each with individual strengths and weaknesses and this paper seeks to compare the leading commercial systems (and some less well known systems) to highlight their key characteristics and differences before assessing whether we truly have the UTC systems we need to meet modern transport policy obligations and desires.
This paper then moves on to consider current and future transport policy and the technological landscape in which UTC will need to operate over the coming decades. Of real interest is whether we are moving from an era of decision making under a backdrop of limited data availability to one of UTC management with data overload, where the potential ability to target control measures to individual vehicles will increasingly blur the traditional boundaries between 'information' and 'control'.
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