INSIDE THE NERVE CENTRE
CIVICAT, the Traffic Information Centre for Catalonia has been recently fully remodelled, incorporating the latest technology to improve the service to the region’s citizens, as Eugenia Domenech explains
Whether it’s images captured by roadside cameras, aerial images taken from the light aircraft of the Catalan Traffic Service, messages on road information panels, changes in variable speed limits on access roads to Barcelona, traffic management in special operations, management of the VAO Bus Lane on the C-58 motorway, management of information during environmental incidents or specific plans, such as NEUCAT (snow plan) – everything starts or finishes with the CIVICAT. The Road Information Centre for Catalonia (CIVICAT) manages mobility on the roads of Catalonia from the land and from the air. Inaugurated in the year 2000, the control centre was completely remodelled in 2017, incorporating the latest technological developments to improve the service for our citizens.
The Catalan Traffic Service, through the CIVICAT, provides comprehensive real-time management of the Catalan intercity road network, more than 12,000 km of roads and motorways, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. As regards daily mobility and leisure mobility, as well as special operations, the control centre works nonstop to provide road information to users as quickly as possible, minimizing impacts and promoting safer mobility. The Director of the Catalan Traffic Service, Eugenia Doménech, stresses this point: “the CIVICAT works every day of the year to help us to better manage road safety and mobility on the roads of Catalonia.”
One important example of a special operation is Easter, one of the festive times of the year that registers a higher mobility demand and presents more road complications throughout the territory. It is characterized as a period of transition between winter and summer mobility, therefore, a special device is implemented which includes, among other things, installation of special measures at various points of the road network where there is more congestion: lanes configured in the opposite direction, roundabout operations, restrictions on the movement of heavy vehicles, etc.
For the management and control of mobility throughout Easter, the Catalan Traffic Service deploys an important number of technical and human resources:
- Approximately 250 km of installed traffic measures.
- 1 twin-engined airplane for tracking devices.
- 40 teams of special traffic measures.
- 32 truck installation platforms.
- 23 lightweight vertical signalling vehicles.
- 13 mobile variable signalling cars.
- 4 mobile road information teams.
- 135 signalling operators of measurements.
- 11 operators of traffic restrictions.
- 14 traffic management technicians at CIVICAT.
- 3 flight crew, operators and traffic management technicians.
A COLLABORATION OF INFORMATION
Technicians and operators at the CIVICAT integrate road information from more than 500 cameras distributed across the road network, with the support of airborne resources, EMIV vehicles (Mobile Road Information Units) and road professionals. In addition, one of the principal sources of information for the CIVICAT comes from the Mossos d’Esquadra regional police force that provides data relating to assistance at on-site incidents. The Centre also works in coordination with the different concession holders of the Catalan intercity road network and with Google, through the Waze application.
A large part of the information services carried out by the CIVICAT in regard to traffic conditions is reflected on the website for traffic incidents (cit.transit.gencat.cat), on the Traffic Map (http://mct.gencat.cat/), in the “Trànsit” App (iOs and Android) and on the more than 130 variable message signs and 930 variable speed and lane signs.
In regard to technical matters, the key improvement to the new Catalan road control centre has been the change of the videowall, which now has additional high-definition screens to provide a more complete picture of real-time traffic conditions and enable the receipt of images relayed by aerial means. In this regard, it is possible to visualize up to 180 cameras simultaneously and manage eight applications at the same time, including Traffic Map, variable speed, weather radar or the VAO Bus Lane. Moreover, the new videowall enables the appropriate tools to be established according to the different special operations, combining cameras, vehicle counts and applications in each case. The exciting feature of this new videowall is the minimum separation between the two rows of ten 55” monitors (0.9 mm pixel to pixel). The flexibility offered by the system is almost unlimited. It is the first videowall with these features to be implemented in Spain.
Improvements have also been made in the network architecture and servers to gain efficiency and performance, and a totally standard and easy-to-integrate traffic image delivery system has been developed for other administrations, entities or media communications.
PEACE AND QUIET
An advance in the comfort of the CIVICAT’s operators has been the concept of a silent room, consisting of the installation of all the computer equipment in the annexed room of CPD, leaving the operators just the peripheral equipment (screens, keyboards) to look after. In this way, apart from the reduction of noise caused by PCs, an improvement in the ambient temperature is also obtained. In the integral CIVICAT remodeling, lighting has also been renewed, from halogen to LED lighting, meaning it is now possible to regulate its intensity based on the current need. This comprehensive renovation of the CIVICAT places it at the same technological and operational level as other European control centres.
Finally, CIVICAT is permanently in contact with the various forces of the order and security, such as Mossos d’Esquadra or Civil Protection, for the coordinated management of any emergency situation. Moreover, in Catalonia there is the CECAT (Center for Operational Coordination in Catalonia) which is the centre of coordination and information on the structure of civil protection of Catalonia and looks after the good management of emergencies through the coordination of the different operational bodies, agencies and institutions involved in the resolution of situations in which the activation of an emergency plan is required. Its ultimate goal is the security of people, their property and rights, as well as the foresight and minimization of the effects that they may suffer in case of an emergency and concentrates it all in a single centre for all the organisms and organisations involved.