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Tollway system is based on a hierarchical architecture. Basically, Tollway supports three hierarchical levels: toll lane level, toll plaza level and central level. If you use integration with a central clearing house (CCH), which was built in some countries in order to support interoperability among the various concessionaires, the CCH can be considered the fourth level.
Toll lane level
The Tollway system works either as an open or as a closed toll system. The characteristic of open systems is that the price for the passage of vehicles is charged based on class or category of vehicles, regardless of the location where the vehicle entered the highway. On the other hand, in closed systems, vehicle is identified at the entrance to the highway by taking specific temporary media by the driver or by detecting other types of media such as smart cards or electronic TAG placed on the vehicle. Price on exit is calculated based on two parameters: the location of the entrance station and the class or classes of vehicles.
In a closed system, the vehicle can enter the highway only on specific locations, the entrance lanes. The driver must have the required media during highway driving. Driving without the required media is considered an infringement. In an open system, vehicles can enter the highway at many locations between toll stations. Only the passage of vehicles through the toll lane will be charged.
The Tollway system users themselves with, the help of Telegra’s consultants, define the configuration and operation of your system. Toll stations and paths are defined at the central level. Certain subsequent correction relating to the operation of toll routes can be carried out at the toll plaza level.
Entry lane subsystem is used for the detection and identification of vehicles at the entrance to the highway. When passing through the entry lane, vehicles with a medium, smart card or electronic TAG (RFID or DSRC) will be detected based on the media. Vehicles without the media will take temporary medium to be used at the exit lane to verify the location of the entry station, and the price is determined based on this information.
Tollway system supports smart card, RFID and DSRC TAG as a permanent media. Magnetic cards or cards with barcode can be used for temporary media that the user takes at the entrance to the highway.
In addition to detection and distribution of media, entry lane uses other methods of vehicle detection at the entrance, such as inductive loop, light curtain with the optional automatic vehicle classifier, vehicle height detector and one or more cameras, recording the license plates numbers with integrated license plate number character recognition or camera for a lateral view of the vehicle. After the detection and identification of vehicles in the entry toll lane system, entry transaction is created and stored in a local database on the toll lane computer. After saving, the transaction is sent to the toll plaza system, which forwards it to the headquarters of the concessionaire. The data on entry media are then distributed to all other toll plazas and toll lanes, so that exit lanes could properly check the status of media (white list).
Entry lane usually work as an automatic lane. The device is managed by the application of the entry lane, installed on the entry lane computer. Application management, its initiation, opening and closing of the entry lanes or incident resolving is enabled on the entry lane local computer or remote from the toll plaza system by authorized personnel. Also, graphical interface of the entry lane informs the user about the status of individual devices and provides information about possible alarms. The same information is sent to the toll plaza system and is available to authorized users on the station via a separate module intended for the monitoring of toll lanes in real time.
Entry lane application allows the options for maintenance staff to implement various tests and check connected devices and set the parameters of entry lanes such as magnetic cards initial numbers setting or the configuration of connected devices.
Configuration of entry lanes may be in the toll plaza system set so that in the event of a critical alarm on any of the device applications autonomously log out the user and close the lane and does not allow lane opening until said alarm is resolved and removed from the system.
Entry lane application constantly communicates with the toll plaza. All detected vehicles and all related transactions created on the entry lane are sent to the toll plaza system and through it to the central system. Incident transactions are resolved in the central system. Transactions are optionally sent to all other plazas which could be used as a way of dealing with suspicious transactions to the exit lanes. For example, if the number of license plate is not properly read at the entrance of the vehicle and written in the media, cashier’s visual verification of the license plate photo that was created at the entrance of the vehicle will verify that the transaction can be marked as a regular passage of vehicles or attempted fraud by drivers. Electronic communication and exchange of information between entry lanes and the toll plaza and center also takes place permanently in the other direction: from the center and toll plaza to the entry lane. This way, each configuration change implemented at central level is distributed to all toll plazas and entry toll lanes in real-time and is applied at the entry toll lane in the shortest possible time.
Tollway system enables configuration of the print on the media by the staff of the concessionaire. Printing can be configured in various ways so that the input media can dynamically add various commemorative messages and notifications to users. A similar configuration notification can be carried out over the messages that are displayed on the display for the user (User Fare Display - UFD). Configuring the print media and configuring UFD messages can be carried out at central level or at the toll plaza level.
Exit lanes, depending on the needs of the user, can be configured as an open toll lane system or closed toll lane system. Depending on the particular configuration, toll lane applications will choose the appropriate price for the passage of vehicles in accordance with the definition of price determined in the headquarters of the concessionaire.
Exit lanes application is installed on the exit lane computer and enables operation in manual or automatic mode (combined exit lane). In manual mode, it is expected that the cashier on the exit lane, managing the process of tolling, is logged in the application. After logging in with a password (internal users smart cards can be used optionally) the cashier starts the billing process by selecting vehicle classes.
If it is an open toll system, after vehicle class selection, the cashier choses method of payment. For example, cash, other currencies, bank cards, smart cards, electronic tags, a free user, a local carrier and others. Once the payment method is selected and confirmed by the cashier, exit ramp is opened and the vehicle can leave the exit toll lane.
If it is a closed system, after vehicle class selection by the cashier, data of vehicle’s entry location should be entered. Reading media, magnetic or bar code format, is used to determine the location of the entrance. There is an option for manual entry of the input station by the cashier for the case when the medium is unreadable. The cashier also may at any time run one of the checks in which the exit lane application connects to the plaza system and requests additional information from the plaza system. For example, check the license plate number by seeing an image captured at the vehicle entrance.
When selecting payment methods, the cashier can choose one of the payment methods that are defined in the headquarters of the concessionaire. The system supports various types of discounts for frequent users, as well as periodic price during the day, week or seasonal prices. If the driver uses the medium, smart card or TAG, the system allows the definition of various types of contracts, such as users rates, seasonal users, time-based contracts, monthly passage of vehicles with limited or unlimited number of passages, seasonal defined media, electronic wallet and others, which can optimize the use of highways and reduce the number of drivers who try to avoid the highway by use of alternative routes to avoid paying tolls.
Exit toll lane application controls all devices connected to the lane: one or more inductive loop detectors, DSRC or RFID antenna, input or output curtains with automatic vehicle classification, user display, exit ramp, traffic lights, a magnetic card reader or barcode records and other devices may vary depending on the type of station. Vehicle recording cameras can be configured to record video, or take one or more photos of vehicles. Start and stop of video clips recording are also parameters that concessionaire’s staff can configure and thus optimize the size of the saved video.
At the exit from the toll lane, vehicle passes through the automatic vehicle classifier (AVC). If the class of vehicle determined by the AVC device differs from the one selected by the cashier, the system automatically recognizes a difference and creates an additional, so-called incident transaction. This transaction, together with the toll transaction is sent to the Incident Management Module (IM) in the center. The incident transaction should be resolved in the Incident module. If the cashier incorrectly determined the class of the vehicle and charged the incorrect price, he can be charged for the difference in the amount or some other amount also defined when configuring the incident module.
In addition to differences in the vehicle classes, there are other parameters which define whether a transaction is an incident or not. To allow flexible incident definition Tollway system uses rules to create incidents (Incident Rule Definition) that authorized personnel of the concessionaire can define at the central level and thus affect the security of the system and its almost one hundred percent protection from theft by staff at the toll lane.
If there was a problem communicating with some of the equipment at the toll lane, the system generates an alarm and notifies the cashier alarm. The exit toll lane system can be configured in a way that does not allow operation if any of the devices on the lane are not active and functional. In this case the system will automatically close the toll lane and check out the cashier in case of any problem in the operation of the devices. This is another option to ensure operation of the system from inappropriate use by the cashier or other users and systems.
In addition to toll collection, the exit toll lane system also allows charge to user account. After selection of the function of payment media, the cashier should choose the type of media, smart card or TAG and load media or manually enter the number of the media. After that, the process of charge depends on the type of contract. Media can be supplemented by adding a certain amount, the number of passages or extension of validity of the media.
If a user from maintenance personnel logs in the exit toll lane system application, the application will recognize and will operate the lane in maintenance mode. This mode is used by maintenance personnel for any verification of the device or some of the functionality of the system. Users in maintenance mode can operate the toll transactions, but the maintenance transactions are not included in toll income in various reports as well as in the calculation of income and concluding cashier shifts and days. Also, the maintenance personnel has access to the list of alarms generated on the track and the current state of computing resources on the toll lane computer: CPU usage, memory and disk space on all disk partitions.
Tollway system allows various methods of payment. The toll transaction process flow and activities of the cashier on the lane depend on the selected payment method. The amount charged to the end user depends on the price list which is defined centrally for each type of contract. For each payment method, one or more types of contracts can be selected, each of which has a specified price for specific vehicle classes. Since the types of contracts can be created by authorized personnel, the concessionaire has enabled almost unlimited freedom in pricing.
Transactions created on the exit lanes are sent to the toll plaza system, where the data is stored in the plaza database immediately after they are created. Likewise, they are sent to toll center where they are also stored in the central database and further processed. In case of transactions related to the media and user accounts, the new account balance and information about the new state are processed in the headquarters and sent back to the toll plazas or lanes.
Optionally, the operator can create a black list of users whose account balance turned to a negative value and are no longer allowed to pass through the toll lane. By supplementing the account associated with the media and transaction processing and the transition of the balance to positive, the user is removed from the black list.
Toll plaza level
The toll plaza level has multiple roles in the toll collection system. Plaza system serves as an intermediary in the communication between the entry and exit lanes. In addition, the main functions of the system are support to the staff employed at the station while performing regular activities especially in the manipulation of funds taken from the end-user during operation and the correct recording of the said funds. The hardware configuration consists of toll servers and user workstation who use the application at the station.
Toll server usually consists of several virtual servers, each of which has its own specific function. The process server is used for processing of toll billing transactions and other data. The database server serves as a permanent repository toll. The communications server manages all messages at the toll plaza. Optional antivirus server is used for commercial system for virus protection. Toll plaza system architecture can be set up in a different way on request from the concessionaire.
The basis of the communications server at the toll plaza is a commercial message handling system. Tollway uses IBM Websphere MQ system, which proved to be an extremely powerful and reliable message handling system. Because of its reliability and speed, this system is used for the exchange and distribution of messages in many banking applications that require efficient and reliable flow of financial information between different hardware locations. Messages from all toll lanes are collected in the communication server and processed by the process server. Also, the communication server retrieves messages from process servers and distributes them to the toll lanes. The communication server takes all messages downloaded from the central system and prepares them for handling by the process server. Messages received from the central system are related to tariff, exchange rates, user privileges, media black list, state of accounts and optionally transactions from entry lanes if the system is configurated in that manner.
Database server primarily serves as a central permanent repository at the toll plaza. Tollway system uses Oracle database system. Since Oracle can be used as an efficient database and can also be used for process purposes, some of the procedures for data processing have been developed in the Oracle server. For example, procedures for archiving and backup of the database, the procedure for creating aggregate data in a data warehouse, and other procedures that require fast and efficient processing of data in the local database.
Toll plaza process server downloads messages from the communication server and transfers them to the transaction and starts the processing of transactions, primarily storing the toll transactions in a database and further processes transactions by setting new states of user accounts. In addition, the process server runs other automated or periodic functionality in the toll plazas, such as data distribution to the central office, automatic control of the user shifts and changes in distribution tariffs and other data to the toll lanes. The process server also takes care of periodic procedures such as archiving data from the database.