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ITS Freeway Management Project for Gauteng



Need (Mobility and traffic management point of view)
Severe traffic congestion is experienced on freeways in the Gauteng metropolitan area. Congestion has a negative effect on productivity, the running costs of vehicles, the amount of time people spend with their families, and the environment. Merely providing additional road capacity within metropolitan areas, is not an ideal or always appropriate solution, and alternative solutions must therefore be explored in conjunction with infrastructure expansions, in order to manage congestion.

Another important aspect is the management of incidents, such as crashes or breakdowns. The speed of response to an accident has a direct influence on the safety of any persons involved in the emergency, as well as the extent of congestion caused directly or indirectly by the stationary vehicles.

SANRAL, together with the local authorities is in the process of implementing an Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) project for Gauteng freeways, whereby technologies will be used to manage traffic, and to provide road users with traffic conditions on a real time basis.

2. With this implementation that are in different stages of implementation of this pilot ITS project in cooperation with the Gauteng the Tshwane, Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni Local Governments, SANRAL has the following aims:

1. Improved Incident Management
2. Reduced Congestion by smart management
3. Increased Road Safety
4. Provision of information to public transport role players for public transport management
5. Evaluation of the effectiveness of ITS technologies with a view for possible further deployment

These aims will be achieved by means of the deployment of several forms of ITS technology, including a centralised Network Management Centre (NMC), Closed Circuit Television Cameras (CCTV), Variable Message Signs (VMS), loops and other traffic detection and traffic information devices, as well as continuous monitoring of the systems and its impact on improved road network operations. Further research and experimentation will take place during the course of the 5 year operational phase of the pilot project to determine tailor made solutions for local conditions and road users.

A key component to the project is the interaction and enhancement of existing Incident Management Systems (IMS) in order to coordinate and facilitate faster emergency and incident response. This is to be achieved by improving the lines of communication, and the speed and efficiency of notification, between the incident location and the IMS.

Project Description



The following systems are implemented:

  • Integration and management software
  • Fibre Optic communication Backbone for communication between the field devices and the Network Management Centre
  • CCTV Cameras
  • Variable Message Signs
  • Inductive Loops traffic monitoring equipment
  • Ramp Metering
  • Electronic Vehicle Identification readers at approximately 3km intervals
  • Wire line (fibre)
  • Wireless communication
  • Traffic detection equipment

The field devices are linked to, and integrated at a Network Management Centre.


The Network Management Centres (NMC) is responsible for receiving all the inputs from the different sensors deployed via a communication backbone, to process them and to provide the required output. In basic terms the role of the NMC is to execute an overall co-ordination function due to the large amount of role players and existing centres.

The following main functions will take place at the NMC:

  • Visual monitoring of the network from real time video feed
  • Detection of incidents by means of information received from field devices
  • Determination of travel times on the road network
  • Dissemination of information to the public by means of radio reports, variable message signs, a web site, sms’s, etc
  • Direct liaison with emergency services for the effective management of incidents
  • Direct liaison with Public Transport call centre to inform about: Traffic conditions, Incidents, Traffic Prediction, and Planned Events Debriefing sessions with affected parties after incidents
  • Pre-event planning meetings

View of the Network Management Centre at the Midrand Fire Station


Dissemination of information to road users, public transport operators and commuters is one of the primary services provided by the Network Management Centre. Information is the activation of a variety of communications media to relay traffic conditions and location of incidents to road users, public transport operators and commuters. The information assists them inter alia, in selecting their mode of travel, route, and departure times. By influencing motorist behaviour (by recommending diversion routes around an incident, for example), authorities can improve travel conditions and traffic flows. Motorist information can be categorized as either pre-trip or en-route.

Pre-trip information can provide the motorist with current roadway and/or transit information prior to deciding upon the time, mode, and route of travel. Whether provided to motorists at home, the workplace, or multi-modal locations, this capability can help relieve congestion by giving the motorist the information to reroute, delay start of the trip, shift modes, or avoid travel altogether.

Pre Trip Information

On-Line services to access the Internet represent a means to disseminate pre-trip traveller information. The Internet’s effectiveness as a fast and flexible communication medium has spurred explosive growth in all sectors of society. A web site will be constructed for the Gauteng freeway network that will show:

    • Real-time traffic flow information via colour -coded maps
    • Expected travel times between different points on the freeway network
    • Road closure information (e.g., for construction or maintenance)
    • Real time video images (still captures or streaming video)
    • Camera selection
    • Travel advisory information for route planning
    • Links to other web site

Pre-trip traffic information will also be available via radio reports, SMS services and a call centre.


En-Route Information

Traffic information is also forwarded to radio stations and possibly television whereby the public can receive updated information before or while they travel.

In the near future, users will be able to subscribe to an SMS service that will provide them with information about incidents as well as progress with the clearance thereof.

In order to communicate with the public while travelling, electronic sign boards called variable message signs are placed at strategic positions that allows the operator to give information about incidents, road works etc. by means of pre programmed messages. There are also electronic signs placed at high accident spots such as Buccleuch and New Road that warns travellers automatically to slow down when a queue is building up in front of them.

Project Progress

The Gauteng project is far advanced and implementation is approximately 70% complete. Most contracts have been completed, or is currently in the implementation stage.