Artificial intelligence to unclog Shenzhen. And in Geneva?

Geneva! It is the most congested city in Switzerland, where traffic is less good than in metropolises such as Hong Kong, Singapore or Wuhan. A city whose inhabitants lose an average of 18 days a year stuck in traffic jams. Imagine the boulevard des Tranchées at the intersection of the rue de l’Athénée. The lights are red. The motors are running. Nothing moves and yet on the rue de l’Athénée not a car, not a bicycle, not a pedestrian. Multiply the example by a hundred…

It is estimated that two thirds of the world’s population, that is to say some 6 billion inhabitants, will live in cities in 2050. These cities, to ensure their existence, need resources, whether human or However, these resources must by definition be transported to where they are needed. Thus, managing mobility is equivalent to managing part of the planet; a science in which China is gaining the upper hand.

To manage the cities of the future, the Chinese government created in 1999 the National Center for Intelligent Transport (CNTI). The Chinese authorities decided on this center after concluding that to guarantee the inhabitants a minimum quality of life, the cities, both those of the past and those of the future, simply could not be managed according to traditional protocols. It was therefore necessary to redesign the way in which the city was articulated on itself by integrating in the same wording the user of the means of transport, the means of transport and finally the space, that is to say the streets available . However, this integration required the simultaneous collection of so much data that traditional technologies were no longer able to process them.

To promote what was called a “smart city”, the CNTI created three pilot projects, the largest of which, Shenzhen, was awarded to Huawei.

Forty years ago, Shenzhen was a fishing village on the border with Hong Kong. Today it is a metropolis of 21 million inhabitants which, with 530 cars per road kilometer, holds the record for the highest density of cars for a Chinese city.

Transforming Shenzhen into a “smart city” first required that, conceptually, mobility be perceived as a whole integrating public transport, private cars, pedestrians and two-wheelers.

This principle being acquired, Huawei was mandated to create an intelligent traffic management system integrating cloud computing, artificial intelligence and big data, all operating in real time.

This system consisted of three components. Data entry, processing and finally management. To enable data collection, Shenzhen was covered with a network of cameras that continuously scanned the entire road network. It was obvious that the amount of data produced was such that there was no system capable of both managing it in real time and producing an immediate solution. Huawei was therefore led to create a traffic brainan intelligent platform that could not only integrate the data submitted by some 20,000 cameras but also use it to manage the entire traffic light network in real time, depending on the traffic.

The result, on a practical level, is that traffic lights are now managed according to the traffic realities on the whole network and not just traffic lights. So, for example, at a crossroads the lights turn red on the main lane only if there are cars or pedestrians waiting on the side lanes. As for the cycle lanes, they are integrated into the system according to the number of cyclists. Thus the duration of the lights, red or green, is determined by the traffic conditions and varies constantly according to the data received by the traffic brain.

While Shenzhen is still partly in the planning stage, the concept has not gone unnoticed globally. In 2013 Germany signed an urbanization partnership with China and in 2018 Duisburg and Huawei signed an agreement for the creation of an ecosystem including a “smart city” that would integrate public transport, car transport , bike paths and self-driving cars in one traffic brain cloud-based.

And Geneva? We can dream.

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Artificial intelligence to unclog Shenzhen. And in Geneva?


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