Intelligent freeway signage

In recent years the freeway system in Israel is applying some pretty good leading edge technology (including truly transparent wireless toll collection that is still missing in many countries I visit).

One interesting system can be seen in the Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv. This road has electronic signs that give precise real time information of the driving conditions ahead, including which lanes are jammed and how fast the traffic moves (when it does). Perhaps most impressive are the signs that give a taste of the despair lying ahead, as in “Traffic jammed through La Guardia exit”… not that there’s much you can do about it, admittedly, but at least you know!…

Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv

Photo: Wikimedia commons.

Of course, behind this capability lies a network of sensors and cameras, and an expert system that integrates them and recommends to the human operator at the road’s control center what messages to send to the signs (I thought the system was entirely automatic, but actually it does give a human final override). The information on the signs and the video from the cameras are also accessible on the Internet: the traffic flow conditions are updated every few minutes, and you can click the camera icons to see the real time video stream – and mouse over the “i” icons to see what text appears on each sign.

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