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Backstage of expressway - "traffic control systems" supporting the logistics

The Shin-Tomei Express way has opened in Japan! I drove on the expressway with my friends the other day. We stopped at a service area on the way and had some ice cream. Thanks to the traffic information displayed on the terminal in the service area, we were able to reach our destination very smoothly.

This experience lead me to the question: how can we see such traffic information? Come to think of it, we see expressway traffic information not just on expressway information terminals in service areas but in many other places including roadway information boards. Let’s take a look behind the scenes.

According to what I've heard, the expressway traffic information we see comes from a "traffic control system." And what surprised me is that the traffic control systems for the Shin-Tomei Expressway run by the Central Nippon Expressway Company Limited (NEXCO Central) utilize NEC technology. What's more, they say that NEC is the supplier of traffic control systems for the Tomei Expressway, Hokuriku Expressway, Tohoku Expressway, Joban Expressway and Chuo Expressway. So, in this installment of the program, I went to get an in-depth insight to these traffic control systems!"

Picture: Interviewee Mr. Hidetoshi Nagao

A specialist in traffic control systems with over 20 years of experience of building traffic control systems, he oversees the whole spectrum of work from system design and installation to maintenance.

Picture: Interviewee Mr. Yuki Kawaguchi

After engaging in the design of traffic control systems, Mr. Kawaguchi was transferred to work in another division. As a traffic control system expert, he currently promotes the sale of the systems for expressways.

  • MitaMr. Nagano and Mr. Kawaguchi, we're happy to have you on our program. First of all, what is a traffic control system? Could you give us a brief explanation?
  • KawaguchiMs. Mita, I think you have seen information boards on expressways displaying information about traffic jams and accidents, haven't you?
  • MitaYes. I hate traffic jams, so I always check them.
  • KawaguchiA traffic control system is designed to provide you with such traffic information quickly and accurately and ensure safe, smooth, and comfortable transportation for expressway users. It gathers information one needs to know such as roadway conditions, including vehicle passage information from roadway traffic measurement sensors (traffic counters), weather information from weather sensors, videos from traffic surveillance cameras, and emergency telephone and cell phone calls from expressway users. What the traffic control system does is process these kinds of information and delivers the processed information so that expressway users can readily identify what is happening on the expressway and where it is happening.
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