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Introducing an intelligent transport system to build a smart city

Che Sai Wang, Macao Civil Service Workers Association*Che Sai Wang

Following the development of the technology, the government has continuously promoted technological innovation and invested a lot of resources in areas such as 5G and big data. Despite the government’s efforts in building intelligent transport applications in recent years, traffic congestion has become a common phenomenon in Macau, where roads are narrow and traffic is heavy. According to the Statistics and Census Bureau (DSEC), as of the end of June this year, there were approximately 250,000 registered motor vehicles and 6,479 traffic accidents, representing an 11% increase in traffic accidents compared to the same period last year. Due to the geographical constraints of Macau, despite the government’s efforts to improve transport facilities, there are still inadequacies.

At present, Macao’s road network construction and planning are not forward-looking enough. For example, in the area of the Oriental Pearl, many legislators and members of the public have pointed out that “long traffic queues” have emerged from time to time due to the narrow lanes in New Town Zone A. Although the Administration has deployed manpower to ease the traffic flow and give priority to vehicles travelling to Zone A, the traffic heading to Cerco has gradually become clogged, even in non-peak hours. Moreover, during peak hours, the traffic condition at various sections of the Avenida Horta e Costa is always bad. The Administration has deployed additional manpower to manage the traffic, but the situation has not improved and there is a certain degree of safety risk to the police.

The SAR Government can consider erecting electronic warning signs in advance on major roads and at key congestion points throughout Macau, using different colours to indicate the degree of congestion on the roads ahead and alert motorists to the degree of congestion on the roads throughout Macau, so as to help other motorists plan their travel routes better in advance.

Intelligent transport has huge potential. If we adopt a live view system to detect the road surface status, monitoring and predicting traffic spikes at the backstage via the use of cameras, and liaise with the surrounding intelligent traffic lights in advance, we can reduce the waiting time of vehicles at intersections, which will also help to improve the travelling efficiency and experience of the public. A number of Mainland cities have already adopted intelligent transport systems. For example, in Shanghai, there is no need for additional manpower to control the huge traffic flow on site unless there are special circumstances. In addition to the use of “manual mode” to change the traffic lights, so as to alleviate the problem of traffic congestion, the Macau authorities also need to consider the introduction of a road monitoring system, and improve the overall efficiency of the traffic through the big data “cloud”, truly realising the construction of intelligent transport and smart city, and reducing the safety risk of the traffic police on the road when diverting traffic.

Overall, the government plays a key role in planning ahead for the transport network and easing traffic congestion. In order to build a better smart city and reduce traffic congestion, the authorities can consider cooperating with technology enterprises and universities to integrate resources from various parties to build a more comprehensive and efficient smart transport platform, thereby reducing the input of human resources.

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