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With AI, Yanbu has become smarter and safer

Sponsored by Huawei

Huawei’s Intelligent Traffic Management system has made Yanbu smarter and safer, writes Thamer Anwar Noori, Manager of Communication & Emergency System, Industrial Security & Safety, Royal Commission at Yanbu.


Artificial Intelligence, as a key part of any smart city initiative, can help keep people safe. Yanbu has successfully shown how AI manages some pressing issues amid urbanisation. As one of the biggest cities in Saudi Arabia, Yanbu has applied Huawei’s Intelligent Traffic Management system to reduce road fatalities, with the ultimate goal to change the behaviour of road users and thus becoming a smarter, safer and better city.

As urbanisation progresses, innovative technologies are applied to help build or rebuild cities. Governments and administrations are thus looking for more diverse ways to manage increasing complex issues related to people’s livelihood. Meanwhile, the number of vehicles and how well the road systems are developed have become major indicators to reflect the level of urbanisation.


While such developed cities are getting busier, so are their traffic. The World Health Organisation has estimated that about 1.35 million people are killed on roadways all around the world each year. It means an average of 3,700 road fatalities were recorded every day. More than half of these are pedestrians, motorcyclists, and cyclists. In advanced cities, the number is even higher as traffic control is much more complicated than we could imagine.


Urbanisation prompts different demands on the traffic network


Saudi Arabia is a forerunner in embracing digital innovations and new technologies. In 2016, the country announced the Vision 2030 programme, aiming to transform into a smart nation with a series of goals to achieve in three key stages. As one of the major industrial cities of the country, Yanbu Industrial City has taken up the same vision and begun its transformation.


Yanbu Industrial City, commonly known as Yanbu in short, is a major Red Sea port city in the Al Madinah Province of western Saudi Arabia. It has a population of some 240,000 in an area of roughly 606 square kilometres. Many of them are foreign expatriates working in the oil refineries and petrochemical industry.

Though most of them are from Asia, there are still large numbers from the Middle East, Europe, and North America. Known for its industry activities, especially when it is the world’s third largest refining centre, the road traffic is usually busy.

Saudi Arabia is a forerunner in embracing digital innovations and new technologies

Like all other stories of advanced development, Yanbu began with a limited number of surveillance cameras at some major interactions. The devices couldn’t do more than just capturing still images, not to mention any functions like video recording, zooming, or some sophisticated recognition and search capability.


The set-up was simply not enough to catch up with the rapid changes stemmed from enlarging population and more frequent road commutation. And with limited surveillance, people just didn’t care much about breaking traffic laws – putting road users in a more dangerous situation.

Smart platform for smarter control on the roads


This is where artificial intelligence (AI) can play a big role. Collaborating with Huawei, Yanbu installed the e-Police system in 2019. The eyes of the system are indeed the 256 high-definition cameras working at 16 major intersections, providing numerous quality images and videos, which allow authority to trace vehicles or impose different controlling measures to keep the whole road network smooth and safe.


The upgraded hardware in the software defined cameras (SDCs) can feed data into the system to further action. The track-and-trace and the occasional real-time controls require more than just sophisticated programming gimmicks.


Not only are the cameras come with improved image quality and 20 TOPs computing power, but the systems are optimised for extreme environments with intelligent light compensation mechanisms.


Pattern recognition is not new to AI, so the system is already capable to run video search based on license plate number and structured vehicle data such as makes and colours, looking to find out the “vehicles of interest.”


The Intelligent Traffic Management System (ITMS) puts AI into a more intelligent practice by running smart algorithms to automatically identify traffic violations, such as running red lights, crossing lanes, reverse driving, and lane marking infractions, etc. The query response is much faster, running about 100,000 data records and getting a response within seconds.


The precision is also stunning at 50-centimetre lane-level track recognition, with target and tracking recognition rates both over 95 per cent per cent. Traffic incidents can be detected in just eight seconds, with a monitoring distance of 200 metres, covering the major parts of the scene. Violation snapshots and information are then transferred to the central platform for unified storage and query, while the system automatically processes violation cases.

Huawei's Intelligent Traffic Management system has made Yanbu's traffic safer and less congested
Huawei's Intelligent Traffic Management system has made Yanbu's traffic safer and less congested

Reducing traffic violations by 60 per cent


In terms of traffic control, the system can control traffic lights to respond to any traffic conditions, such as feeding the “green wave” to ease of flow in certain directions, as well as adapting to certain flow patterns at different interactions. This is supported by the multi-algorithm warehouse, deploying more than 100 algorithms for fast iteration and smooth evolution to help the whole system respond timely.


This system, running round the clock and undisrupted by any weather condition, made a significant difference within just a few months after deployment. A large number of violations were automatically identified, caught on snapshots, and processed. Traffic violations have been reduced from 5,000 to 2,000 every month, representing an impressive 60 per cent decline. And the administration of Yanbu earned hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalty fees each month.


Collecting penalties, while good to have, has never been the ultimate goal. Both the Royal Commission at Yanbu and Huawei have been looking for ways to improve traffic situations to ensure road safety. With the e-Police system in place, traffic violations are steadily decreasing. People are changing their driving behaviours, leading to a substantial drop in the number of casualties and damage to facilities resulting from traffic accidents.


While AI may not be able to replace human brains, it can supplement what we sometimes can’t handle. The ITMS is one of the obvious examples, making a huge step under the smart city initiative which aligns with the national policy.


Riding on the first-phase success, the Royal Commission at Yanbu kicked off its second phase of deployment. Based on the existing e-Police system running at 16 intersections, the solutions added 10 e-Police sites to boost coverage density and thus ensure a safer and more efficient traffic environment for the public.

AI won’t replace human brains but it can supplement what we can’t handle

Further actions include the identification of green and blacklisted zones, improving system awareness on the road network, and more campaigns on changing driver’s behaviours, as well as regular reviews on traffic regulations.


While Yanbu presents a successful smart traffic management system, Huawei provides solutions that can be flexibly designed with different key components. At the core of the system is the integrated video site PowerCube 500, which works on an integrated network and power design, allowing all-scenario design and flexible deployment with no on site cabling required.


The remote unified network management system in the eSight O&M is capable of managing more than 200,000 devices. The industry’s first intelligent site planning tool can also improve site deployment efficiency by 30 per cent.


Huawei is helping build a fully connected, intelligent world. It doesn’t have to be shown in catchy technologies or incomprehensible algorithms. Every little thing, ranging from some quick and accurate plate number recognition, to a well thought design in the networks of roads and highways, can make unimaginable impact in people’s lives.


On 23 July 2020, Huawei announced the launch of its latest intelligent traffic solution, changing the ways how people move. For more information about the launch and other solutions, please visit here. To watch the webinar of Transforming the Ways We Move - Huawei’s Intelligent Traffic Management Solution Launch, click here.


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Sponsored by Huawei
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