Will the City of the Future Need Traffic Lights?

Can you imagine a city without traffic lights? According to experts in Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) this notion could become a reality for future cities. Marcus van der Velden, ITS specialist, discusses.

Traffic along Sydney's highways

"As we see our cities growing at a rapid rate paired with increased urbanisation, we must no longer rely on building infrastructure to cope."

Do future cities need traffic lights? It's a great question and one I hope to have an answer to alongside a bevy of other questions when I join like-minded colleagues in Melbourne on October 10 for the start of the 23rd World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems. 

ITS, in a nutshell, is concerned with the way technology impacts all transport systems and has a major focus on roads, traffic, cars, cities and, most importantly, drivers and pedestrians both now and a long way in to the future.

How the city of the future works has become an increasingly urgent topic as the world begins to grapple with the reality of connected cars, autonomous vehicles, smart roads, sensors, telematics, GPS and traffic solutions driven by aggregated Big Data, to name just a few of the digital innovations reshaping our cities.

Given the World Congress attracts over 3,000 international and local delegates, ITS are clearly a high profile issue which attracts major public and private sector investment, robust Research and Development and growing media interest.

The Congress Agenda provides a snapshot of the high-tech complexities cities now face, from mobility, through to the future of public transport, integrated traffic management systems, city liveability, safety, multi-modal travel and of course, those rules and regulations that must govern all. 

I am proud to say that at Arcadis, we 'get it'. Not only have I had the pleasure of being a member of this year's Organizing Committee, but four of my global Arcadis colleagues will be delivering papers on topics like autonomous vehicles, connected canal systems in Europe and Big Data. 

The field of ITS is becoming more vast as we see technology continuing to advance rapidly and touching upon every aspect of urban transport. As we see our cities growing at a rapid rate paired with increased urbanization, we must no longer rely on building infrastructure to cope. Instead we must learn new ways to manage the complexities. Whether that means a city without traffic lights we'll just have to wait and see. 

Marcus van der Velden

Associate Technical Director Ask me a question