Traffic cameras, measurement and weather stations, variable message signs, incident detection systems and other telematics solutions help anticipate incidents and improve road safety, traffic flow, and traffic enforcement and control - under normal and emergency conditions. Caverion has contributed to the largest and most demanding road telematics projects in Finland.
“The devices used in telematics have developed rapidly in recent years, and the demands on them continue to increase,” says Matti Poutanen, Project Manager responsible for Caverion Finland’s road, telematics and tunnel projects. “A wide range of information on, for example, incidents and weather conditions is needed on the road by motorists and for road maintenance purposes. There are more and more roadside cameras, and traffic monitoring has increased.”
Weather and congestion data help in traffic control
For ordinary road users, the benefits of telematics are particularly obvious in exceptional conditions. When an incident is detected, the telematics system sends a notification and proposed solutions to the Road Traffic Centre, which can control traffic as needed using variable traffic signs and guidance signs. In tunnel areas, traffic lights and barriers can also be used. When road conditions are poor, the Road Traffic Centre can utilise weather station data to control driving speeds or alert drivers of slippery roads or fog with roadside boards.
Telematics can also help monitor the smoothness and volume of traffic flows
“Driving speeds can be adjusted when a traffic jam is about to form. This improves the flow of traffic and road safety,” says Poutanen. Additionally, monitoring points enable detecting, for example, wrong-way drivers on slip roads or other high-risk situations, particularly in tunnel areas.
Digital guidance signs
make providing information to motorists on the road easier
They can be used to inform drivers of traffic disruptions caused by roadworks, of road maintenance or of oversized loads requiring the closure of lanes, and to divert traffic elsewhere if necessary. “By warning motorists of incidents in advance, we can increase their awareness of the road conditions and, thereby, make them drive more cautiously and with anticipation. Congestion information can also help motorists choose a faster detour,” Poutanen explains.
New car park systems for the West Metro to reduce traffic jams
Last summer, Caverion installed Finland’s first 28-square-metre guidance sign that uses full-matrix technology on Main Road 7, close to Ring Road III. The sign enables the provision of more diverse information on how the traffic is flowing and on congestion on Ring Roads I and III.
Advanced technology will get to showcase itself also in the guidance signs to be installed on the Länsiväylä motorway in the spring and in the parking guidance system for Espoo’s West Metro, both of which will be implemented by Caverion. The parking guidance system will consist of several displays informing motorists of the spaces available in the car parks of the underground stations. The objective is to guide motorists to these stations and help reduce congestion in the core centre of Helsinki.
The Future Is in Tunnels
Telematics is already used on most of Finland’s main roads, but Poutanen believes there’s still room for growth. Next, it will expand from roads to tunnels and covered lanes in cities. “In tunnels, ordinary traffic signs are not enough. Because of the large volumes of traffic, more effective traffic control is needed,” Poutanen says. There are also more safety risks associated with tunnels, since long queues are dangerous if a fire breaks out and objects on the road can lead to accidents.
Tunnel safety systems monitor and control traffic by means of camera surveillance, sensors, lane signs, traffic lights and control systems for tunnel entry. “In the Helsinki Metropolitan Area alone, around 20 tunnels are being planned. The exact start dates of construction and the related telematics works are not yet known, but the future is in tunnels, that’s for sure,” Poutanen says.