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New signage may help ease Cape Town’s traffic woes

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By: Leandi Cameron
11th September 2009

All major Cape Town highways will soon be fitted with electronic signage boards to ease traffic congestion by alerting motorists to slowdowns and accident scenes, while also suggesting alternative routes.

Cape Town-based companies Sport & Traffic Technologies (SATT) and Metacom recently won the tender to provide the communications infrastructure to support the network of electronic signboards, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Accurate Information

“Giving motorists accurate information about traffic conditions can help ease congestion,” says SATT MD Frank Mac Beath. “The system feeds information from a network of cameras to a central control room, where operators can assess the situation and decide what messages to send motorists through the signage boards.”

“The system relies on fast communication between the control centre and the signage boards out on the highways,” says Metacom chief technology officer Jako Winter. “We are supplying a solution that includes our own virtual private network, built on the existing infrastructure of the cellular networks. Our communication devices all have dual subscriber identity module cards so they can instantly switch over if any of the networks go down.”

According to Metacom MD Réan van Niekerk, traditional communication solutions mean digging up roads to lay cables, which is very expensive.

He adds that, by using cellular tech- nology, the project will deliver a more cost-effective communication without compromising reliability. It also means than the company can remotely monitor all its devices in the field and maintain them in the event of a problem, without needing to send a technician to the site.

Mac Beath says that cellular commu- nication is very effective, both as a first- line solution and as backup for other communication technologies. “There is a huge problem with cable theft and it can take weeks to fix, so we always use cellular communication as backup to fibre, because it is easy to roll out, [involves] low maintenance and does not suffer from the noise issues we are starting to see with WiFi.”

Joint Projects

He concludes that the reliability of the system has been proven in other joint projects between Metacom and SATT, including signage for the Cape Town International Convention Centre and the Chapman’s Peak scenic drive, as well as the Ben Schoeman highway in Gauteng. “It is a solid industrial product. I have had some units out in the field for six or seven years and none have failed yet, even though the traffic environment, in particular, is incredibly corrosive.”

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Written by techran

September 15, 2009 at 11:11 am

Posted in Cape Town, Of Interest

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