Updates in real time

Updates in real time

Traffic screens

Updates in real time

In an effort to keep motorists updated with the movement of traffic in the City, the Bangalore Traffic Police launched a new initiative around a year back — traffic-heavy junctions were identified and at each, a digital screen flashing snippets on road-blocks, jams and diversions was mounted.

As M A Saleem, the additional commissioner of police (traffic), points out, “We use this system to communicate information to the public — for instance, updates regarding jams or blockages on key roads. This way, motorists can plan to avoid these areas and take a detour.”

The big bonus about this system is that it operates in real time. The screens are controlled directly from the Traffic Management Centre. Officials on duty monitor vehicular movement through their network of CCTV cameras, as well as take updates from constables deployed at various junctions. Once the information is compiled, it is flashed on the screens in the form of a series of messages. At times when there is no such data to report, the screens are used to broadcast warnings against drunken driving and the like.

Saleem explains that it was decided to mount the screens at specific junctions. “We’ve put them up at important points, which have a tendency to get congested. For instance, there’s one near ITPL and another in Electronic City,” he elaborates. But although most Bangaloreans laud the initiative and acknowledge its usefulness, many feel that there are some improvements that could be implemented. For instance, at present there are only 20 operational screens in the City. Priyanka, a CA student, points out that this is a very small number for a city as large as Bangalore.

 “These screens do help drivers — but I feel that there ought to be more of them. If the effort is being made to update people on traffic movement, it should be done on a larger scale. The traffic police has tried the system for a while and got a good response. So now, it should be expanded,” she suggests. In fact, one area which she feels could definitely do with a screen like this is the stretch from Silk Board to BTM Layout. “That stretch is prone to jams, since traffic from Bannerghatta Road is diverted through BTM Layout. It would help if there was a screen there — motorists would know when to take detours,” she adds.

Shiju, a professional, points out another problem. From personal experience, he says that the data displayed on these screens isn’t always a hundred per cent accurate. “This doesn’t happen very often — I’d say around 70 per cent of the time, the information is true. But there have been times when the screen indicates a jam in a certain area, which isn’t there,” he notes, adding that perhaps a time lapse between receiving and reporting the information could be the reason behind this. The overall consensus, though, seems to be that these digital screens are a step in the right direction. 

Madhu, a software engineer, points out, “The initiative might not be a fully-fledged one yet, but one can’t deny its usefulness. I pass the screen near Brigade Road on a daily basis, and always check it to see where traffic bottlenecks have formed. There are times, of course, when the screen flashes nothing except complaint numbers and words of wisdom — but whenever it does indicate a jam, it makes life simpler for drivers.”