What if you could determine the number of cars, bikes, motorbikes, or pedestrians passing a specific intersection at any given moment? And what if you could use that real-time data to adjust traffic light phases so that traffic moved more smoothly? Sounds like smart traffic management – something larger cities have already deployed but smaller municipalities lack the budget for.
Or they used to. With Heike Rohde’s project small towns can be smart too. After consultig with a number of representatives, technicians, traffic planners and civil engineers from several municipalities, she created C-Ring - a modular platform consisting of C-shaped ring that collects traffic data and can be deployed by small municipalities lacking financing for innovation. Driven solaly by solar and wind energy, it collects and processes data on traffic density, temperature, particle pollution, weather conditions, and numerous other factors – information urgently needed for smart city solutions.
Potential use cases for the rings go way beyond traffic control. “The range of data C-Ring can collect is virtually limitless as we can equip the modules with all kinds of sensors,” Heike explains. It allows towns to publish particle pollution or weather data in real time as a service for their citizens. What is more, all data collected by the C Ring is processed directly in anonymous and not stored, thus eliminating data privacy implications.
In May this year C-Ring entered its piloting stage. Participating in a traffic study conducted by a research group at Ostfalia University for Applied Sciences, C-Ring appeared on the streets of Heike's home town Wunstorf. “Wunstorf is a great test field for C-Ring. Like many small towns – and that’s where 50 percent of the German population live – Wunstorf’s infrastructure lacks alternatives to the main traffic arteries. You always have bottlenecks where traffic density peaks during certain times – and so does particle pollution. Wunstorf has three main access roads. If you placed three C-Ring modules strategically at these roads, each of these rings could send a signal to the relevant traffic light to shorten the red phase so traffic keeps moving and pollution goes down.”
Results of the C-Ring test will be compared to other existing traffic measurement systems. Heike hopes that the research project will contribute to a better quality of life in her home town and later on other municipalities – with less traffic jams and a better climate. Seems that everything is going the right direction - with the support of the :agile team and cooperation with IOXlab Heike plans to take C-Ring to the market in 2018 already.