The transportation industry faces a perfect storm as unpredictable and unmitigated risk factors lead to a critical inflection point. Supply chain disruptions, global health crises, climate change, and social inequities require a different mindset when evaluating transportation systems. One way to improve overall efficiency is to simplify needed upgrades by deploying PoE solutions for intelligent transportation.
Systems must do more than get people from point A to point B as efficiently as possible. They must address how solutions impact the environment and the people they serve. As populations are increasing, so too are the challenges. Incorporating the latest technology, including sensors, into transportation systems can help modernize existing solutions while creating a foundation for growth.
To meet these challenges, public and private entities must take advantage of 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT), edge computing, and cloud processing. These tools provide opportunities to do more than just widen roads and repair bridges. They help system operators make real-time data-driven decisions to create reliable, efficient, and resilient systems.
Data Is A Key Factor in Relevant Change
Reliable transportation systems depend on data. For example, a stretch of roadway accumulates water quickly, creating dangerous driving conditions. Information on road conditions combined with real-time weather data allows an intelligent transportation system to predict when these dangerous conditions might occur. A smart system can use that data to direct traffic around the dangerous section of road.
The process can be fully automated as real-time data feeds into the system. Artificial intelligence (AI) can evaluate information to predict hazardous driving conditions and automatically create a detour that keeps drivers safe. However, for all of this to work, devices must be able to withstand adverse conditions to deliver data reliably.
PoE Solutions for Intelligent Transportation Remove Barriers to Deployment
Using industrial power over ethernet (PoE) devices strengthens data reliability as these products are designed to withstand extreme operating environments. Data loss is not a factor when architecting a transportation system. By combining data and power transmission into a single device, an ITS can simplify operations. Given the growing complexity of ITS solutions, technology that delivers data efficiently, safely, and reliably will become an essential part of a smarter transportation system.
No matter the size, mobility makes cities function. Transporting individuals from home to school, work, or appointments sustains economic growth. Getting people from homes to grocery stores or shopping centers increases consumer spending, a key component of a healthy economy. Accomplishing these tasks reliably and efficiently is the goal of an Intelligent Transportation System (ITS).
ITS is composed of integrated devices that collect real-time data on traffic conditions and applications. The systems use this data to improve operations. The goal is to establish an intelligent system that can improve traffic flow, reduce response time, and minimize congestion. By continuously improving the use of its advanced technology, an ITS can deliver innovative solutions to resolve mobility constraints.
Advanced technologies are converging at a time when mobility concerns go beyond cost savings to include environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues. It’s not enough to make transport efficient and reliable. Cities must address the inequities in their transportation systems and find ways to reduce their environmental impact. Technologies such as 5G connectivity, cloud processing, artificial intelligence, and IoT can improve mobility while reducing the impact on social and environmental concerns.
When discussing 5G networks, mobile providers often focus on speed. They point to one gigabit per second data transfers that allow for movie downloads to occur in seconds, rather than minutes. Companies suggest that 5G may become a viable alternative to broadband. However, speed isn’t the only benefit of 5G. The latest cellular technology offers lower latency, wider bandwidth, and enhanced capacity—all ITS can use.
- Lower Latency. Anyone who has ever used the internet has experienced latency issues. When multiple people speak at the same time during a video conference, that’s high latency. Latency is a measure of how long a signal takes to travel from the sender to the receiver and back. High latency indicates that roundtrip communication takes too long, resulting in the sender and receiver speaking simultaneously because of a transmission lag. Low latency means a fast turnaround between sending and receiving data, making for reliable real-time communications.
- Wider Bandwidth. Usage spikes often result in slow-performing connections. Only so much data can travel across a network, but 5G technology was designed to optimize network traffic. This capability means more data can be transmitted simultaneously for analytics to ingest and analyze. More bandwidth means more data for valuable insights.
- Enhanced Capacity. 5G has increased its capacity to handle devices simultaneously. Being able to connect with thousands of devices makes the deployment of numerous IoT devices feasible. Companies can collect data from multiple endpoints without fear of flooding the network and altering performance.
5G enables ITS to deploy more devices, receive data faster, and respond quickly to changes in the transportation ecosystem.
Intelligent transportation systems need reliable data about what is happening on the ground. That means deploying connected devices that can acquire and transmit data 24/7/365. Many cities already use IoT to manage traffic. These management systems use sensor-collected data to monitor changes in traffic conditions. However, the systems can’t always take advantage of the latest IoT technology because of legacy solutions that cannot support the demand for more data.
Integrating IoT technology into 5G-capable environments can help automate processes, improve safety, and reduce inefficiencies in today’s transportation systems. More IoT devices mean more data collection points. With more endpoints, data becomes more granular, outputs are more accurate, and responses are quicker.
For example, Glasgow has an ITS that provides commuters with data on bus locations, number of passengers, and timing. Each bus has sensors that track passengers getting on or off the bus. It also transmits geographical information to determine arrival time. If a bus is ahead of schedule, the system can increase the time at a red light to ensure the bus arrives on schedule.
Adding a few seconds to a series of red lights puts the bus back on schedule without making passengers or drivers aware of the slight delays. This ITS technology enables the city to operate a reliable transportation system. Using data from devices such as sensors, cameras, and GPS-tracking, an intelligent system can analyze the information to keep traffic flowing.
More granular data enables automation. Data that is captured in real-time makes rapid decision-making possible. With discrete data points, systems can automatically calculate and distribute the delay among several traffic stops. Without automation, it would be impossible to respond in real time to a deviation in schedules.
When IoT solutions are combined with edge computing, ITS can improve traffic flow across its ecosystem. Allocating computing services closer to IoT devices makes real-time decision-making possible and lessens the computing requirements at the system’s core.
Traditional computing architecture requires that all data be sent to a central location for analysis. Information is sent across the network for processing regardless of the number or location of devices. Systems can respond faster and more reliably by deploying computing services closer to where data resides. There’s no waiting for multiple roundtrips before a result is produced.
Edge computing can help smooth traffic flow through intersections. Today, when a vehicle stops at an intersection, it can trigger a series of actions based on pre-set conditions. It doesn’t consider other factors when following instructions. The traffic light will stay green for the same amount of time, no matter how many vehicles pass through the intersection.
With edge computing, more devices can be deployed, and the data can be processed closer to the collection points. The system knows when all vehicles have cleared the intersection and adjusts its signal actuation accordingly. The system configuration supports real-time data synthesis at the edge, enabling a near real-time response to changing traffic conditions.
Faster communications, increased IoT deployment, and enhanced computing services make incorporating real-time artificial intelligence possible. Recognizing technology convergence to support AI, the US Government issued an executive order in 2019 placing AI integration as a top priority in all branches of government.
This directive increased the development and deployment of ITS technology throughout the Department of Transportation. The DOT focused on safely integrating AI into automated systems and applications to improve efficiency and effectiveness. While many applications focused on city-oriented problems, a segment of the department looked at rural and non-urban mobility concerns.
Moving agricultural products from farm to table includes getting the produce from the field to a local distribution center. By deploying data collection devices along transit routes, organizations would be able to integrate the data into an AI-capable system and reroute traffic in real time to ensure the most efficient route.
For example, rural transportation routes must consider the movement of farm equipment on shared roads. Moving equipment can take hours, depending on size and distance. If a transport vehicle encounters a slow-moving vehicle on two-lane roads with limited visibility, delivery times are significantly delayed. Using integrated AI solutions, drivers can receive notifications in real time of any potential delays and be provided with an alternative route, reducing accident potential and avoiding delays.
Every ITS depends heavily on data analytics. Cloud computing allows resources to evaluate massive amounts of data to deliver more accurate insights. Before the cloud, systems were restricted to on-site computing power. ITS had to be built to balance speed with accuracy. Fewer data points decreased accuracy, but too much data slowed the process, so real-time decision-making was impossible.
While data analytics is not new, its reach is. With 5G connectivity and increased IoT devices, analytics can use an extensive data set to deliver more accurate insights faster. A successful ITS depends on reliable data-collecting devices and communication networks. Without these foundational components, any ITS faces constraints.
Why Use Power-over-Ethernet for Intelligent Transportation?
Deploying industrial power-over-ethernet (PoE) devices can ensure reliable data collection regardless of operating conditions. These devices can deliver data during adverse weather conditions when accurate information is essential for safe and efficient travel. They can consolidate data and power transmission through a single wire, reducing installation, maintenance, and operating costs. As ITS solutions become a part of daily life, PoE ensures that reliable operation continues at lower lifecycle costs.
Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology enables Ethernet cables to send data and power simultaneously through a single network connection. This capability means that PoE devices do not require a separate power source. Unlike many IoT devices, PoE must meet standards set by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). These standards ensure reliable operations of IP security cameras, digital signage, and a range of sensors.
Intelligent transportation systems need power, data, and connectivity to function. PoE technology provides all three. Most PoE systems use PoE switches or injectors. These devices sit on an Ethernet connection and communicate with PoE-compliant endpoints such as cameras and TV displays.
Deploying switches increases the number of devices that can use PoE technology, making for a more cost-effective implementation. ITS solutions leverage technology to install device clusters that can monitor traffic, update signage, and collect site-specific data. As power capabilities continue to advance, PoE technology can become the backbone of high-powered endpoints.
PoE enables safe and reliable operations within intelligent transportation systems, resulting in more efficient and effective solutions. As ITS advances, PoE benefits will continue to increase.
More Powerful Endpoints
Smarter endpoints fuel edge computing. Systems become more responsive when more data processing is moved to an ITS perimeter. More powerful endpoints enable more effective communications. More data can flow to signage without infrastructure changes. PoE technology can support such high-powered devices.
Increased Data Requirements
More people means more traffic, which also means greater data requirements. As ITS solutions advance, they will require faster data transfer. Real-time information cannot be restricted because of insufficient bandwidth. With 5G capabilities, more data can be delivered to endpoints or sent to a centralized system because of increased bandwidth. With PoE-enabled wireless access points, transportation systems can take advantage of 5G technology.
When devices do not require an immediate power source to operate, placement has fewer constraints. Installers don’t need to look for the closest outlet. Instead, devices can be placed where they are needed. Incorporating PoE switches adds to the flexibility as more devices can connect to a single access point without power concerns.
Industrial PoE switches are designed to withstand harsh environmental conditions. They are built to survive extreme temperatures, poor ventilation, and adverse weather. The hardened design extends the device’s life and ensures reliable operations. Longer lifecycles and reduced electrical cabling equates to lower maintenance costs.
More Sustainable Systems
ITS solutions must scale hand-in-hand with the cities they serve. Whoever is providing these solutions must deploy reliable technology, such as power-over-ethernet, for maximum flexibility and connectivity. Choosing the right PoE technology requires a partner who understands both business and technical needs. Versa Technology offers a line of PoE products designed for sustained operation in adverse conditions required of many ITS solutions. Contact us to learn how our industrial PoE devices can help build a reliable, efficient, and resilient transportation network.