More fun driving and cleaner air in China’s megacities

This article was published in our September 2017 newsletter. Sign up here

Economic success means longer traffic jams

City from above

Economy and society in China have undergone a rapid development in the last few years. More and more Chinese own their own car. By now, over 124 million private cars travel along China’s roads. More than a million private cars slow down commuter traffic in about 40 cities each day. Metropolises like Beijing, Chengdu and Shenzhen even reach figures of over two million.

The success story of the Chinese metropolis Huainan

German scientists developed the virtual traffic jam game based on their real digital urban mobility simulation tool - SUMO for short. DLR researchers designed the environmentally-focused traffic management tool in close cooperation with Chinese experts, and this will now be launched in the city of Huainan with its 2.3 million inhabitants. The expected results are promising: using SUMO at the traffic management headquarters of the Chinese metropolis will help to reduce traffic jam times, decrease accident rates at dangerous intersections and lower poisonous emission volumes.

 

Building the City of Tomorrow together in China

The German and Chinese experts led by Alexander Sohr as part of the international BMBF campaign "Shaping the Future – Building the City of Tomorrow" now want to build on the encouraging success story of cooperation with the traffic managers of the Chinese metropolis Huainan. With their expert network GIP2China will be touring through several megacities in different provinces in China until mid-2018. City planners and decision-makers from the fields of politics, science and business will be introducing their innovative package for an effective, environmentally fair traffic management.

A package full of colourful surprises and innovations

The German experts are demonstrating the different components of their virtual tools at the traffic management headquarters of the Chinese megacities. "These enable the traffic police to better manage traffic in their cities in real time, increasing safety and environmental protection," Sohr says. The colourful online graphics clearly show which cities are currently experiencing severe traffic, which high-risk areas make accidents more likely and where traffic currently creates what emissions volume.

How to reduce risk potential

Improved traffic light settings can achieve small miracles during traffic jams. Alexander Sohr explains how this can be done: "Traffic might start moving again if you change the traffic light phases or offer special turn left traffic lights. In other cases, driving bans - such as in inner city areas - or fee areas might work.

Virtual simulation prevents miscalculations

A calming thought for planners whose decisions determine the fate of hundreds of thousands of drivers in commuter traffic: The urban mobility simulation tool (SUMO) allows users to monitor from their desks at the traffic management headquarters and under realistic conditions how road blocks or inner city traffic-calming measures would affect traffic and the environment.

Sources of the traffic and environmental situation data

City Map

Video and loop detectors near intersections record traffic "down to the last vehicle", but statically. In addition, vehicles equipped with transmitters travel with the traffic. They continuously broadcast their position to headquarters and as such represent the traffic surrounding them.

Microscopic traffic record predicts accidents

The intersection monitoring developed by the DLR takes an even closer look at the traffic and predicts where the vehicles will be in the next milliseconds. This allows the system to predict near-accidents and to identify risk zones at intersections which might put lives at risk and halt traffic.

Identifying and removing acute hotspots in real time

All of these data are compiled in an overview and colourful maps show the hotspots where traffic is not moving or where the greatest volume of hazardous gases is pumped into the air. This is a major improvement for the police on site in the megacities, enabling them to identify acute hotspots at a glance in real time which they can then defuse in the next step. Anyone wishing to find out more about the technology package or the German scientists can attend "The 12th EU—China Business and Technology Cooperation Fair" in Chengdu, China, between 24 and 31 October 2017.

 

More information

“Shaping the Future – Building the City of Tomorrow”
The project GIP2China is funded as part of the international BMBF campaign “Shaping the Future – Building the City of Tomorrow”. The campaign offers 10 excellent research networks from Germany a platform to present their innovative projects for sustainable urban development abroad. It reaches out to connect strong partners from research, industry and municipalities around the world – for smart city solutions worldwide.