Advanced Imaging


Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: July 8th, 2008 05:26 PM CDT

Detecting Traffic Incidents

A graphic representation of incident detection system components.
This "cloverleaf" represents an area with high potential for traffic incidents.
A transportation operations center for incident detection and traffic management.

By Lee J. Nelson
Contributing Editor

The patented Cetrac TMS4080 Wide Area Incident Detection system from Singapore Technologies Electronics Limited (Singapore) collects data at two adjacent points, spaced between 0.5 and 1.0 km (0.31 to 0.62 miles). An AI neural network performs non-linear mapping of raw data onto various traffic models. At a traffic management center, operators receive audio or visual incident warnings with the relevant roadway section(s) highlighted in yellow. If the incident persists beyond a predefined limit, the display turns red to confirm legitimacy.

Traficon NVs (Bissegem, Belgium and Chantilly, Va.) Video Image Processor (VIP/I) marries flow monitoring and incident detection in a single printed-circuit module. During set-up, the user can define conditions and types of events which, when detected, trigger an alarm. Those include queue length, stopped vehicle, wrong-way driver, speed drop, smoke or fog and video failure. VIP/I monitors up to eight lanes and distinguishes five flow modes, based on speed and zone occupancy.

Approximately 50,000 vehicles per day traverse I-95 in urban Philadelphia. With daily use projections rising, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (Harrisburg) embarked on advanced traffic management along a thirteen-mile segment of the Interstate. As part of that effort, Transdyn Controls, Inc. (Pleasanton, Calif.) furnished a complete Traffic and Incident Management System, consisting of three main components: non-intrusive, side-fired microwave units for sensing vehicle presence, speed, occupancy and volume; central computer hardware and incident detection software; and the CCTV sub-system for visual verification of incident response activities.

The presence and nature of expressway incidents as well as appropriate responses to them are highly distinctive. Given dynamically changing freeway conditions, the need for timely, adaptable and appropriate solutions is crucial to the performance, viability and public acceptance of any approach to incident detection.

Contributing editor and industry analyst, Lee J. Nelson, is at the forefront of emerging as well as evolving technologies for compute-intensive electronic imaging applications. Contact him at: 703-893-0744, or

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