by: Allyxon Cua
A barely four-kilometer ride from our home to the workplace used to take 10 minutes before the so-called carmageddon reached its peak in Metro Manila. Other monikers about the rumored worst traffic in the world include "may forever" and “EDSA parking lot”; true enough, the one hour I now spend on the road feels like forever. Lately, it's almost as if my work hours start as soon as the car comes to a standstill. My waiting time is usually spent going through AMTI's social media pages and responding to work-related Viber messages. We even had to implement a flexible work schedule to give more leeway to our employees, especially to the commuters, as they deal with everyday traffic.
In 2015, National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) then-Director General Arsenio Balisacan stated that the traffic crisis is heavily plaguing the Philippine economy, estimating the economic loss at P3 billion per day1. Without intervention, the economic cost of the daily bottleneck is likely to reach P6 billion a day by 2030, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) noted. "It's really terrible. It says a lot about the inability of the government to manage a public service. We need a strong transport planning system. The government should play a big part in this," former Director General Balisacan added.
Much has been said about addressing this problem through the management’s perspective. Some initiatives taken by the government in response to the worsening traffic situation are the implementation of the number coding scheme, the implementation of flexible work arrangements by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and the designation of pick up and drop off points of public transportation.
However, we may need to look further into the idea of exploring our technological options in solving this crisis. With the capabilities that modern technologies have, the seemingly insurmountable problems we face in the city could potentially be decreased radically, if not eradicated completely.
Investing in State-of-the-Art Technology
The cities with the best traffic management systems worldwide all use technology to alleviate the gridlock and improve the traffic flow. In Australia, the Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System (SCATS) was developed by computer programmers and traffic engineers in the 1970s. SCATS uses camera or induction loops in the pavement to assess the number of vehicles at an intersection, adapting the timing of traffic lights through a central datacenter. The same technology is also being used in other places around the world including Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tehran, Kuala Lumpur, Mexico City, and Dublin2.
Another technological solution to Metro Manila’s woes is Intelligent Video Surveillance (IVS). A timely innovation in surveillance and security, IVS combines the adaptability and scrutiny of smart systems and Artificial Intelligence (AI) while improving the classic components of a CCTV. Through better video resolution and integrated software analytics, the IVS can scan all the elements of a live video stream, differentiate and recognize various objects, detect specific movement, and adapt to track suspicious or familiar instances.
Hitting Two Birds with One Stone
Another battle we take on everyday is the high crime rate in the metro. Add this to the age-old problem of traffic and Metro Manila instantly becomes a melting pot of problems.
However, so much of our technologies are made to serve more than just one purpose. Take the previously mentioned IVS as an example. IVS processes visual data and eventually distinguishes humans from other objects. More accurate than the human eye, the intelligent video scans the entire scope of the camera and detects any minimal movement and change in scenery or objects.
If Metro Manila employs such technologies, the entire system of traffic enforcement could be sped up and a much-needed decrease in road rage, crime, and economic detriment would follow.
New-Age Solutions for Age-Old Issues
Because of continuous modernization, our problems in traffic and crime continue to grow. It’s high time we drop our archaic systems and let our solutions advance as well. Both the problem and the solution lie in innovation, and it is up to us to make use of the right scalable and high-performance technologies to move forward with a clean slate.
Allyxon is a graduate of BS Electrical Engineering of the Mapua Institute of Technology and is currently the President of AMTI. Leading AMTI for two decades now, he has helped it from being a one-brand company to establishing itself as the most diversified and technologically capable company in the Philippines today.