© hobbit /ShutterstockThe system consists of roadside sensors, embeddeddevices for vehicle registration and classification, a datagathering network and a server side application for analysis,storage and reporting.The information that is gathered should be harmless froma privacy point of view. The sensors utilise induction andpressure sensitivity. They are built into the road pavementand do not register any identifying information about thepassing vehicle, owner or driver. Only the fact that a vehiclehas passed, and its speed and weight, is logged. Themodel, colour or registration number cannot be detectedby the sensors.A registration and classification device converts the magneticsignature of a vehicle into a record containing a timestamp and the measured vehicle length, weight and speed.The record is then transmitted over a standard Internet connectionusing OPC-UA, a protocol stemming from the automationand process control industry. The data is encodedin a compressed binary format while the protocol itselfguarantees reliability, security and integrity - at the sametime being platform independent and resource efficient.The record is received by a Java application that doessimple near-time analysis. As an example, it is importantto immediately detect and flag any vehicle that is drivingin the wrong direction on a motorway. Such a situation isextremely dangerous and nearby drivers should be informedthrough any channels available. The detection of these socalled"ghost drivers" is based on the registration of negativespeeds. On two-lane roads, however, a negative speedmight come from a car passing another car - which is a normalevent. The application thus contains logic to separatethese two situations from each other.The record is then stored in a database. Here NoSQL technologyprovides the needed support for high-speed writes,large data volumes, robustness and quick and efficientreporting. The system stores all records explicitly to securefull flexibility in the report creation, both for current andhistorical data.Currently, the system is in its start-up phase. The softwarehas all the needed basic functionality for data-gathering andreporting. A large batch of roadside sensors is now beingacquired and will be installed along the main roads in Norwayin the next couple of months. After that, the system will beenhanced with new functionality and adaptations for largertraffic volumes as more and more sensors get installed.One of the main goals of the system is to improve road trafficstatistics for better maintenance planning and investmentcontrol. However, it is also a clear goal that the systemshould provide open and near real-time traffic data to thepublic and to public and private institutions. There are severaluse cases that illustrate the value of such data: policeor ambulance drivers in an emergency can get driving recommendationsthat consider the current traffic situation.Ordinary drivers can be advised about congestions aheadand be offered alternative routes. Also, parcel service companiescan provide more precise estimates on expectedarrival times to their customers.The potential value of this system thus spans efficient publicspending, nice-to-have information for technology and/or driving nerds and time savings of potentially life-savingcharacter. We will need to wait some time to see how thesystem will be used and whether its full potential will bereached. One thing is clear: all of this is made possible justby using software, sensors, the Internet and hardware thatis connected!Kristoffer is a Scientist at BEKK. He hasbeen a developer, team lead or solutionarchitect the latest 15 years and hasbroad experience from a variety of fieldssuch as search engines, performancetuning, NoSQL for analytics and 3Dgraphics. At the moment he is mostlyworking on systems architectures fordistributed stream processing.6
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