Transport blogger and responsible motoring advocate James Deakin has been invited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) to discover more about Japan’s state-of-the-art approaches to transport management! Check out his visit to the Traffic Control Center of the National Police Agency and learn more about Japan’s foresight and advanced practices in preventing traffic congestion in Tokyo.
So I'm here in tokyo right now, under the invitation of the Japanese government, to learn how they managed to engineer their way out of traffic.
Many may find ...it hard to believe today, but from as far back as the twenties and even up until the eighties, Tokyo, like any big city, once suffered from horrible traffic. They knew it was going to be one of the biggest threats to their economy, so as early as 1927, they started to apply measures to counter it.
I'll be spending a week here getting exclusive behind the scenes access to learn about transport management, including the construction methods of subways, rail traffic control, flood control, highway and road management and emergency procedures in the event of natural disasters.
Today was spent at the traffic control center of the national police agency, which is an extremely impressive facility built in 1974. It features a 25 x 5 meter video wall made up of 144 50 inch TVs and has it's own radio station to broadcast real time information to motorists and integrates that with satnav and traffic information billboards.
But even more impressive, perhaps, is that not only are they able to monitor traffic, but program it as well. Besides the vehicle sensors placed under the roads, they use state of the art imaging and communication equipment that can control the traffic lights, allowing, say, a slight time extension for the built up lanes and even divert traffic or give priority to emergency vehicles by giving them green lights along their route. This is all done through beacons and cameras that receive real time information, which is then processed through a super computer that will ensure an unobstructed journey.
It even features cameras that detect the speed of a car approaching a traffc light and determines whether it will be able to stop in time without causing a rear end collision or make it safely across to the other side and automatically keeps the light on a second longer to avoid a potential accident situation.
Thats just a snippet of what they will be showing me. Some of it, like this traffic center, forbid taking videos unfortunately, so I'll post these with static shots and a brief description. When I get a break, I'll be putting a video together of the stuff I'm allowed to film to show what I've learned over the next few days so stay tuned for that.
But so far, even if it's just the first day, I can already see first hand that there's no quick fix. There was a LOT of time, talent and money poured into this. A classic case of the cure being more painful than the disease. But if you remain committed, you will eventually vaccinate yourself from a lifetime of suffering and poor productivity. You just have to spend a day commuting through tokyo to see that.