Innovation Magazine July-August 2019


F acing P age : The primary vehicle access gates at the Deltaport facility in Tsawwassen, BC allow drivers to access the port anytime. To enter, drivers must swipe their security pass and enter in their reservation code.

E very day, incidents on BC’s roadways delay commuters and freight, cause life-altering and sometimes fatal collisions, and affect air quality through increased vehicle emissions. Thanks to new and emerging smart technologies, traffic managers can now reduce those hazards and risks. Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) use advanced communications and information technologies to solve transportation challenges. Implemented in roadways, intersections, or centralized traffic management centres, they link infrastructure, vehicles, and users over networks in real time. “If you look at surface transportation as we see it now, in my opinion, surface transportation is at a crossroads, with many challenges,” said UBC Professor of Civil Engineering Dr. Tarek Sayed, P.Eng. “We have congestion, which is impacting everybody’s mobility and quality of life worldwide. There’s also safety, where every year we have about 1.3 million fatalities on roadways worldwide. And then there’s the environment. Transportation is strongly implicated in many of the environmental problems we face today—air pollution and heavy energy use.” ITS, said Sayed, is key to resolving these transportation challenges. Here in BC, engineers are finding clever ways to strengthen the capabilities of ITS by using and modifying existing technologies, like 360-degree cameras, traffic devices networked wirelessly or via fibre-optic cable, and real-time traffic-signal management. But engineers also realize that a big piece of the puzzle—connected vehicles—are on the horizon and these promise to provide capabilities that will transform ITS for good. IMPROVING TRANSPORTATION EFFICIENCY AND DRIVER EXPERIENCE, AND REDUCING ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS Until a few years ago, accessing the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s Deltaport cargo facility in Tsawwassen often meant long lines and traffic jams on the port’s four-kilometre-long causeway and nearby roads. The port

processes about 2,500 commercial vehicles daily. Each vehicle must be screened before it enters the terminal. Commercial vehicle arrivals must also be confirmed against the terminal’s reservation system. At the time, even slight delays increased congestion and local emissions. Deltaport’s new vehicular access control system blends security and ITS technologies to efficiently monitor, manage, and control all vehicular traffic entering and exiting the facility. “Everything was manually controlled before,” said Cory Edgar, P.Eng., of PBX Engineering Ltd., who helped design the system, along with his colleague and, project manager Rob Grant, P.Eng. “With this automated system,” said Edgar, “vehicle drivers enter in their reservation code and their port-security pass, and if they’ve arrived at the right time, they’re permitted into the facility.” In addition, dynamic messaging directs incoming vehicles into appropriate lanes, and automated gates open to permit authorized vehicles access while unauthorized vehicles are directed to exit the facility. The most advanced municipal ITS hub in the province belongs to the City of Surrey and its Traffic Management Centre (TMC), where a handful of traffic staff monitor about 316 square kilometres of city space and manage 2,500 traffic devices in real time. Devices at their disposal include over 460 networked cameras that allow them to monitor traffic conditions, and about 410 networked traffic signals, the timing of which can be adjusted in real time as needed. Surrey’s system is built on its own communications network—a 5.8-GHz wireless radio communications system, which turned out to be the most economical and practical way to achieve digital communications across the city. The private network carries two-way data from every deployed ITS device in the city. As its bandwidth needs grow, Surrey is upgrading the network with multiprotocol label switching, fibre optics, and

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