Shropshire Council

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Urban traffic management control (UTMC)

We commissioned an urban traffic management control system in June 2013, the basis of which was developed by the Department for Transport. The primary use of the UTMC, with the SCOOT System at the heart of its operation together with a common database, which permits the input of disparate system information into an easily managed front end, is to deliver better support for the proactive management of urban traffic, and is essential if wide-ranging local transport objectives are to be met. These policy aims include:

  • Public transport priority
  • Improved conditions for vulnerable road users
  • Reducing traffic impact on air quality
  • Improving safety
  • Restraining traffic in sensitive areas
  • Managing congestion

By using the various facilities embodied in the UTMC, we aim to provide timely, accurate traffic and travel information. Warning the travelling public in advance of problems on the road network enables them to make informed decisions about their mode, route and time of travel, helping to spread demand across the network. The current areas used by the UTMC in its management plans include:

CCTV (traffic congestion monitoring systems)

Traffic monitoring using closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras is the most effective and immediate method of obtaining accurate information about the current status of the road network.

Great care is taken in the selection of CCTV sites in order to give maximum road network coverage. Operators can then pinpoint congestion and often determine the cause. In some circumstances operators can take direct action to remedy or pre-empt traffic problems. More often they'll help prevent delays from worsening by disseminating the information widely, allowing the travelling public time to change route, time of travel or mode of transport.

It should be noted that the CCTV equipment employed to monitor traffic doesn't record images for any purpose, and therefore they can't assist you with insurance claims etc.

Pollution

Air sampling is continuously carried out at various locations in the county. Where these locations coincide with SCOOT systems when air quality levels are breached, we're automatically able to implement plans which will allow traffic to be given priority in a particular location, thereby removing standing traffic and at the same time reducing pollution.

Remote monitoring

The Remote Monitoring System (RMS) monitors each independent controller system for traffic signal junctions and pelican, puffin and toucan crossings, and other intelligent transport systems throughout the country. This monitoring equipment can detect all kinds of faults, such as lamp outages, and reports them directly to the UTMC, where officers are able to refer them onto the traffic signal maintenance contractor.

Traffic data

Because the UTMC counts vehicular movements as a fundamental part of its operation, as an additional benefit that data can also be used to determine vehicle categories, such as cars, buses and lorries, and the speed of each vehicle and time of day it passed a particular spot. The data collected is anonymous and can't be used to identify individual vehicles.

Shropshire has an aspiration to broaden the facilities offered by the UTMC in the following areas:

Variable message systems (VMS)

It's an aim of the UTMC system to be able to implement alternative routes for vehicles if given criteria is met. This criteria could include the occupancy levels of car parks or to advise drivers of delays due to roadworks, for example.

In such instances the UTMC will automatically use pre-determined plans to change messages on the approaches to town centres to provide relevant, up-to-date information about incidents, congestion or car park occupancy to drivers en-route.

Car park occupancy

The car park monitoring system collects occupancy data for individual car parks, which will then be transmitted to the VMS on the inbound routes to the car parks. Drivers will then be able to choose in advance which car park to head for based on the number of spaces showing as available on the VMS. This facility will reduce queuing and circulating traffic, and thereby pollution, in congested urban centres.

Time and distance measurement

This facility will monitor the time individual vehicles take to move around on our network. It uses the unique Bluetooth identity of mobile devices such as telephones when they pass different detector nodes on main routes into or out of towns. The data can then be used to determine speeds, occupancy of routes and journey times.

It should be noted that the collection of data via this method would purely be used for the improvement of traffic flows, and not for any other means such a prosecutions etc.