Road Traffic Analytics – The Future of Nairobi as a Smart City
Smart Cities are run by Smart Tech. According to Technopedia a smart city is a designation given to a city that incorporates information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance the quality and performance of urban services such as energy, transportation and utilities in order to reduce resource consumption, wastage and overall costs.
There is no definitive explanation of a smart city because of the breadth of the technologies that can be incorporated into a city in order for it to be considered a smart city. Mark Deakin defines it as a city that utilizes ICT to meet the demands of its citizens, and that community involvement in the processes is a necessity for a smart city. From the definition given by Husam Al Waer and Mark Deakin in their research publication “From Intelligent to Smart Cities,” the factors that contribute to a city being classified as smart are:
- The application of a wide variety of digital and electronic technologies to the city and its communities
- The application of ICT to uplift life and the working environments in the region
- The embedding of such ICT within government systems
- The territorialization of practices that bring the people and ICT together in order to foster innovation and enhance the knowledge that they offer
Wikipedia defines Analytics is the discovery, interpretation, and communication of meaningful patterns in data. Especially valuable in areas rich with recorded information, analytics relies on the simultaneous application of statistics, computer programming and operations research to quantify performance.
Recently, the Nairobi County Government installed cameras in Nairobi Streets with a total of 51 cameras have been installed within the city enabling live video streaming as well as recording for future necessities.
The areas covered include: Kenyatta National Hospital, Country Bus Station, Muthurwa Market, Kirinyaga Road, Gikomba and Machakos.
The cameras are also positioned at the city’s Kencom House Bus stage, Ambassador Bus stage, Railways terminus, Tea Room, Odeon Cinema, KICC, Afya House, Macmillan Library, Gill House, City Market, GPO, Cross Road, OTC, and Nyayo House among other locations.
The project was funded by the World Bank to a tune of about Kes. 400 Million.
In the last 10 years alone, the advances on Data Analytics has seen developers churn out applications in their numbers with a Kenyan Developer (Chris Orwa) releasing an API that returns traffic conditions from Internet Solutions Kenya (formerly Access Kenya) cameras. IS Kenya has installed traffic cameras across different parts of the city and has made them publicly available by streaming the content through a web portal.
Chris is utilizing these cameras to be able to tell whether there is traffic or not, without having to go watch IS Kenya’s live stream, local Tech Blog TechWeez reports.
Traffic management and road network performance are critical to smoothly functioning urban areas. Determining how changes in the road network impact the vehicle speed at a systemwide scale is a difficult task. However, The National Government and the County Government can partner with developers to implement Road Traffic Analytics solutions that help them government transportation agencies and enterprises understand what happens on the roadways in order to make informed decisions on design and build engineering, traffic flow measurement and road network management.
The Road Traffic Cameras installed in Nairobi Roads can be turned into Smart Cameras that can detect among other things Lanes, Direction Flow, Vehicle classification (Car,Motor Bike, Tuk Tuk, Van or a Lorry). With the help of Analytics tools, the insights gleaned from these cameras can be used to make better decisions that save time, money and to ease congestion.
There are also off-the-shelf solutions developed by pioneer Road Traffic Analytics company INRIX that has a suite of Roadway Analytics solution that is on-demand, cloud-based analytics suite that leverages INRIX global traffic data to help public agencies and consultants more effectively monitor, measure and manage the performance of road networks – according to their website
“The INRIX Suite brings a unique set of in-depth analytical tools, Roadway Analytics helps you understand what is happening on your roads, benchmark and improve roadway performance and maximize the investment of public funds” the description on the website reads.
The future of Smart Cities depends on how Governments and the Business community respond by developing policy frameworks, laws, road traffic architecture that are smart enough to support Analytics, Deep Learning and Data Science.