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An end to Nairobi's Gridlock using Smart Traffic Management


Photo: Nairobi traffic jam along Uhuru Highway

Kenyans waste a lot of valuable time navigating through Nairobi in traffic snarl ups. According to numbeo.com, the Kenyan case is so bad that we are ranked 6th globally with Kenyan commuters losing up to an hour on average. So bad is our case that doing business in the city once under the sun has been marred with wasted man hours resulting to lost opportunities.

Traffic jams in Nairobi have become so bad that most Nairobians, as they are locally referred to, have had to make drastic changes to accommodate for the lost time.

Some 8 - 5 employees and business owners alike have to leave their homes at wee hours just to get in time to work, this does not leave out young children required to be in class at 8.00 a.m.

The cycle is the same in the evening, making the work-life balance even more difficult with valuable time being robbed off hardworking Kenyans and investors living in the capital city.

So embedded are the traffic jams in our day to day lives that it now has a cultural impact: most calls on whereabouts get answered by a common phrase “Niko kwa jam” meaning “I am in traffic”. Kenyans are referred to be poor time keepers and even the bad traffic is popularized in local music content. I.e. the “Niko kwa jam nakam” song.

What needs to be done?

The city population is growing quickly every day with demand for housing and office space going up. The 5 million plus residents of Nairobi need to get around thus over the last few years there has been an influx of both personal and public service vehicles on the roads.

The rate of vehicles being bought and the number of them on our roads has increased dramatically.

Nairobi streets then vs now.

The city’s road plans can’t fully accommodate the huge number of vehicles passing through the tight Nairobi streets. Even after diverting traffic through the Eastern and Southern by-passes, there are still traffic jams! Infrastructure can’t save the day for now, so, what next?

With the advent of technology, there have been a lot of benefits by incorporating machines and I.T into our day to day lives. Better ways to live and work are not only being enjoyed by private citizens, but also governments. This has been proven.

Copy Cat as a leader in technology has been involved in many ICT projects that are usually ‘firsts’ in East Africa. From single window systems to facilitate trade to smart healthcare systems, how to control traffic should be a walk in the park. The answer: An intelligent transport management system.

How does the intelligent traffic management system work?

Copy Cat has teamed with its partners to introduce an innovative Smart Transportation Solution. The solution provides a wide range of ICT infrastructures — including data centers, agile network devices, and video surveillance — to build a comprehensive transportation management platform.

The solution neatly integrates traffic signal control, ePolice, checkpoints, gathering traffic flow data, and traffic direction systems. The use of scientific, information-based, smart transportation management is vital to reducing police officers’ work pressure and improving urban road transportation. The major elements of the Smart Transportation Solution are:

  • Comprehensive traffic sensing system: Uses Intelligent Video Surveillance (IVS) platform to accommodate a diversity of IT systems throughout a city; video surveillance, traffic direction, traffic signal control, and traffic flow data collection systems.

  • Unified cloud traffic command platform: Employs traffic cloud data center to build an integrated traffic command platform. The cloud-based platform provides flexible traffic data sharing, management, and applications to enable efficient command and visualized collaboration.

  • Intelligent traffic incident evidence collection: An ePolice system collects and computerizes accurate evidence of traffic violations. This not only improves traffic safety and optimizes traffic conditions, but also strengthens drivers’ awareness of traffic laws.

  • Real-time traffic emergency command: Uses a video system that aides personnel at the command center to relay information to police and emergency services on the ground. This helps to schedule police forces so they can respond more quickly to traffic incidents.

Smart traffic lights deployed at the Westlands ring road-Rhapta road intersection

What do we expect once the project is live?

  • Improved traffic capacity of existing roads, alleviating traffic congestion.

  • Strengthened traffic management, reducing snarl-ups and improving traffic conditions

  • Enhanced coordination capacity of the traffic command center to handle emergent traffic situations, improving work efficiency.

We all look forward to say ‘goodbye’ to Nairobi’s traffic jams!

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