“Traditional” vs. True Integration
In traditional integration, each subsystem has its own user interface in a control center, and those interfaces are not really connected. There are several operators engaged in operating the system, each supervising one or more subsystems.
This kind of approach might cause practical problems in case of incident (as illustrated in the video on this page and explained in the example) making the road/tunnel less safe:
Complex System Operation:
- Multiple GUIs: on average, there are 4-6 different GUIs in a control center, instead of just one; the operator runs all over the control to confirm an alarm on one GUI, set the message on Dynamic Message Sign on another GUI, turn the traffic light to red on the third GUI, etc.
- System response is highly dependent on operator’s reactions: most of the actions are done by the operator, making the possibility of error is very high; depending on the operator's level of experience and skill, the reaction might be faster or slower.
- Complicated sequence of operation: as illustrated in the example, the expected system reactions are anything but simple. In order to achieve safer and more fluent traffic, more and more subsystems are added, which introduces more steps to be taken to resolve a situation. Consequently, the possibility of error is higher.
- Unclear division of responsibility among the operators: with multiple operators operating multiple subsystems, when things go wrong (and they will go wrong in such complicated environments), they start pointing fingers at one another.
Higher Operational Cost:
- Expensive maintenance - maintenance costs of poorly integrated control centers can be more than 60% higher than well integrated systems.
- More operators needed at the same time.
Invisible System Benefits:
- Expensive subsystems have been implemented but are not used to its full potential (see example).
- Slow reaction to incidents (up to 5 times slower!).
Simplified, in true integration, all the subsystems are integrated on the same Traffic Management Software platform. Any event or alarm in any subsystem can trigger a reaction in any or all other subsystems.
Basic postulates of true integration are:
- Unifying system operations at all levels (physical, communication, controlling, managing);
- Making machines communicate through customized interfaces between various equipment & systems;
- Anticipating phase implementation and enabling interoperability with other and future systems;
Furthermore, true integration:
- Enables implementation of complex alarms (i.e. complex algorithms involving several different variables like traffic density, weather conditions, etc., resulting in a better, more precise reactions).
- Enables automatic reactions throughout multiple subsystems.
- Provides complete tool for handling any situation on the road (incidents, traffic disturbances, weather, special events etc.).
- Ensures unified incident and crisis handling reaction.
- Virtually eliminates human error.
- Enables learning curve for the system and the operator – as a result of integration possibilities and experience, new ideas are born and translated to new system procedures or other improvements, enhancing the system.
- Enables adding new, or editing existing procedures for any road situation.
Most of all true integration is a base for creation of advanced tools that are used to make traffic safer, more fluent and managing it in cost effective manner.
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