CHENNAI: The city’s love-hate ties with the autorickshaws might soon register a few tally marks on the ‘love’ side. Two weeks ago, a data collation project began trials of what could be important in Chennai’s ambitions to become a ‘smart city’.
All the information is to be gathered by intelligent meters loaded with sensors and mounted on a few autos plying for Namma Auto.
‘Intellimeter’, which began as a joint project by IIT-Madras researchers and GyanData, was initially aimed at providing a solution to problems associated with auto-metering - tampering, out-dated tariff rates etc. “But that was before we came across the potential of using these meters as a tool for data gathering and analysis,” confided Prof Raghunathan Rengasamy of IIT-Madras, who along with Prof Shankar Narasimhan lead the project.
Now, the project has been expanded to include a larger objective: data collection and big data analytics on how the city’s traffic system behaves.
The present version of the ‘Intellimeter’ retains aspects that will have a dynamic tariff system - not just distance travelled but also current fuel costs.
It will also see meter calibration transmitted wirelessly, obviating the need for physical calibration at government-approved centres.
The Intellimeter will now be a data collection tool, an invaluable data source for the city’s ‘smart city’ metamorphosis. Imagine a system that can tell you which stretches of our notoriously congested roads are in a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam. Or the current pollution levels in any micro locality. Or even the rate of deterioration of roads, big and small.
“The possibilities inherent in the huge volume of data to be collected are huge,” said Rengasamy.
The Intellimeter, currently on trial on some autos under the Namma Auto service, mounts a comprehensive sensor panel - air quality and dust sensors, ultraviolet sensors, temperature and humidity sensors, light sensors and an accelerometer. “It can even mount a camera. But we are looking at a series of focus areas and possibilities,” said Rengasamy. “The accelerometer can be used to track the deterioration of roads over time, the GPS for traffic flow, the light sensor can even be used to track unsafe unlit areas,” he said.
The high potential project has just entered the first stage of its field trials. The second would see the meters mounted on at least a 100 city autos. According to Rengasamy, that would require a budget of `1.5 crores.
While some in the State Government, especially the Innovation Cell of the State Planning Commission, have shown interest in taking the project forward, the team is also reaching out to other states.
“The State Planning Commission told us that this system would be of immense use to the Smart City project. That is why we have expanded its scope. The opportunities are exciting,” said Rengasamy.