After 25 years of contracting out the maintenance of traffic lights and street lighting, the local government of a town in The Netherlands, decided to put it out to tender once more and to manage the works itself starting from 2013. A TMC Civic Technology expert joined this project in June 2013 to supervise all processes and people involved.
First of all, the local government traffic and lighting team had to get used to being responsible for all technology to function properly, checking the contractor’s repair work, keeping track of financial aspects and managing all maintenance work. The TMC Civic Technology expert, who supervises the team, says the essential first step has been taken: people now enjoy their new tasks and responsibilities. “It is best when people find out for themselves which parts of the processes can be improved.”. Together they are learning to do the right things at the right times by evaluating whether a defect was repaired adequately or not.
As soon as a defect is reported, the team decides whether it is a technical or a functional issue. If a technical problem is found, the building contractor is called upon to solve it. The local government itself, thereby decreasing the dependence on suppliers ‘and advisors’ expertise, on the other hand, increasingly deals with functional issues.
In case of a broken traffic light, the contractor is on the spot within 1 to 2 hours for main cross roads and within 2 days when minor one are concerned.
Below the road’s surface lies an electromagnetic detection loop that senses the bicycles, scooters, cars, lorries and other traffic on its surface. As pedestrians make up for too little electromagnetic mass to be detected by the loop, they have to press a button in order to get a green light to cross the street.
The loops and press buttons are connected to a computer system that processes these data. They spread the co-called “green light time” over the various traffic directions, ensuring that conflicting direction do not see a green light at the same time. The detection loop so provides an overview of the traffic situation. Consequently, one gets an insight into the level of safety, the frequency of green lights and the waiting times for all traffic.
If the detection loop has a defect, a team of grinders cuts a square out of the asphalt and seals the loop using bitumen (a liquid kind of tar), making sure that water, dust and traffic cannot harm it.
In The Netherlands, traffic lights and systems designed by Siemens, Vialis, Peek, Ko Hartog and Swarco are most frequently used.
TMC participates in this project as the TMC Civic Technology expert combines his knowledge and skills of both electrical engineering and math’s with valuable and longstanding experience of advising about traffic lights and systems. He says: “Your work should be fun. Mine is an interesting combination of technical aspects, analyzing people’s behavior in traffic and managing the people in a changing organization. It is a varied job and improving traffic and road safety is very rewarding".