Exclusive: Inside centre that monitors Dubai traffic 24/7

Dubai - Intelligent Traffic System in Dubai's Al Barsha was opened by Sheikh Mohammed in November.

Photo: Juidin Bernarrd
Photo: Juidin Bernarrd
Photo: Juidin Bernarrd
Photo: Juidin Bernarrd
Photo: Juidin Bernarrd
Photo: Juidin Bernarrd
Salahaldeen Al Marzooqi, Director of Intelligent Traffic Management Department, RTA.
Salahaldeen Al Marzooqi, Director of Intelligent Traffic Management Department, RTA.

Anjana Sankar

Published: Sat 12 Dec 2020, 5:36 PM

Last updated: Sat 12 Dec 2020, 5:42 PM

All Dubai roads will be monitored by Intelligent Traffic Systems (ITS) by 2023, a top Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) official has said.

In an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times, Salahaldeen Al Marzooqi, Director of the Intelligent Traffic Management Department, said the recent launch of the ITS Centre in Al Barsha has expanded the coverage of artificial intelligence (AI)-powered traffic monitoring systems from 11 per cent to 60 per cent of the roads network in the emirate.

“Our aims is to cover the whole of Dubai road network by 2023. In a fast-growing city like Dubai, technology-driven communication system will be the future of traffic management,” said Al Marzooqi. “The ITS will help us give real-time information to commuters and also make predictions and suggest solutions to tackle traffic problems.”

Inside the ITS Centre

The Dh590-million ITS Centre located in Al Barsha was inaugurated by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in November.

At the heart of this sophisticated traffic control management centre is a hub called I-Traffic, which is connected to numerous input devices that monitor traffic, calculate vehicle numbers, speed and weather.

“The data collected is sent to the central hub that analyses them to make an action plan or to send messages to the commuters,” said Al Marzooqi.

There are a total of 245 monitoring cameras installed on different roads and connected to ITS. Also, 235 incident-monitoring and vehicle counting devices are installed. This is in addition to 115 devices for computing travel time and average speed; and 17 information systems that feed information on weather, including rain and visibility due to fogs.

“For instance, using the data collected through these devices, we can help plan the city’s traffic for big events or on special days like the New Year’s Eve and ease mobility issues,” said the official.

Power lines and fibre optic communication network extending up to 820km are also linked to the central hub for data transmission.

“One of the important aspect of the ITS is the revamping and installation of 112 dynamic message sign boards on the Dubai roads. Through this, we transmit instant information to commuters about road accidents, congestions and even weather conditions,” said Al Marzooqi.

He said many of these devices are placed in the vicinity of the roads leading to the Dubai Expo site in order to efficiently manage traffic when Dubai will see an influx of tourists for the mega exhibition.

Two shifts

At the centre of the building is the hi-tech control hub fitted with dozens of mega screens, from where one can see the unrelenting city traffic. The control room is divided into three zones: The new Dubai zone which will cover the Expo site and vicinities; the Bur Dubai zone; and the Deira zone.

A team consisting of 20 operators, supervisors and engineers monitors the screens and sensors for bottlenecks, accidents and other traffic-related problems, in two shifts.

“Our day starts and ends by monitoring the traffic on the roads. If there is unusual slowing down of traffic, the operator will send out an alert after verifying the same through cameras or by informing the police,” said one of the engineers manning the ITS at the centre.

“We also suggest a response plan that will include putting out a message on the electronic message sign boards installed on the roads or changing the traffic signal timing to ease congestion.”

Al Marzooqi said the RTA has trained 60 Emiratis in all operational aspects of the AI-powered traffic management system so that they are technologically self-sufficient.

“We also have an emergency crisis team that coordinates with other RTA departments and Dubai Police to ensure smooth mobility in the city and efficient management of traffic,” said the official.


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