The UAE Takes The First Steps to Creating a Digital Road Network

The Road Department at the Ministry of Infrastructure Development in the UAE is investing heavily in the development of intelligent transport systems

Posted in Industry Updates


The Road Department at the Ministry of Infrastructure Development in the UAE is investing heavily in the development of intelligent transport systems, in line with the country’s vision of having smart cities and smart transport solutions. All this is part of the Road Department’s plan to develop performance-based maintenance contracts in a smart way, says Engineer Ahmed Alhammadi Road Department at the Ministry of Infrastructure Development.

“It’s a way to have everything under our control – the cars, the places where they’re moving – we have call centres that handle emergencies, such as any defect in the road networks. We even have mobile applications.

“We have a circle, which is Masar Cars [an initiative that involves deploying vehicles to monitor federal roads and carry out daily inspection patrols to record any damage to asphalt layers and arrange for it to be fixed], the call centre and the mobile applications. These feed into our system for maintenance management.

“So, any time we receive a notification of any defect, each item has a certain number of hours to be fixed. For example, with a steel guard rail – we have for this, if I’m not wrong, two hours to be fixed. Once we have a defect on the system, we have three colours – red, yellow and green. Yellow is to show that it’s under maintenance, red indicates that the contractor still hasn’t looked at it, and green means that the job is done.

“Whatever is green, we have to check it and see if it’s fixed properly or not. Also, we have started to take calls from road users at the same time, and we’re starting to try and fix the defects on the same day. There’s a clear channel of communication between us, the road users and the contractors.”

Furthermore, Alhammadi recently revealed that the Road Department is working towards developing traffic management solutions that use smart technology to improve the performance of road networks.

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“We’ve started now with a small control room centre, but, in the future, we hope to have a professional one that will include the whole road network of the UAE. Right now, we also have counting stations and have implemented 27 of them.”

In September, the Ministry of Infrastructure Development announced the renewal of a deal for the maintenance of 25 Vehicle Counting Stations installed in 2012. This project has the first five VCS for Weigh in Motion use – a high-speed weighing system for weighing and classifying vehicles according to type. This can be carried out on a prepared lane so that there is no need to stop vehicles.

The scope of the contract includes the supply and installation of radar-based counting stations, as a complement to Vehicle Counting Stations.

“Regarding the counting stations – we have 27 of them, with five of them being weight and motion stations – the ministry today receives updated data of the number of vehicles that pass through counting stations every minute,” says Alhammadi, adding that the data is collated and used to help improve systems and performance.

“We have started to develop so many smart ideas for our network systems. We’ve started developing safety ideas too. Regarding the Intelligent Transport Systems, we’ve implemented the smart tower, which is an all-in-one newly developed idea. We’re the first ones to develop such type of towers, which include all traffic counting, radars, climate and fog sensors and so on. Rather than having multiple tools of Intelligent Transport Solutions, we have all the tools in one,” he asserts.

With regard to safety, Alhammadi points out that the UAE is the first country in the Middle East to implement tailgate dots. This initiative has been implemented on Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road in Umm Al Quwain, from exit 103 to exit 110.

The initiative was implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior’s challenge to reduce road fatalities in the UAE by 21% between 15 December, 2016 and 15 February, 2017. Initiated on January 1, 2017, the project includes the drawing of white dots on the road and fixing side boards with phrases on them, such as ‘leave safety distance’ and ‘maintain at least two dots distance’. It aims to disseminate awareness among road users and urges them to leave a safe distance between vehicles, he explains.

“All our roads are high-speed roads, and that’s why we need to educate people and make them aware of the distances that they should keep. Unfortunately, we did a survey and the majority of the responses told us that the distance they had to keep at 120km/h was the distance of a car length, which is totally wrong! We should be keeping a distance of at least 62 metres between two cars.

“So we’re trying to implement as much as we can, safety-wise. We’re looking at new studies and developments in our federal networks, we’re doing safety audits for our federal roads. Some of them were built in 1972, so there’s natural wear and tear there. There’s been many changes, especially with safety. We needed so many changes, and we’ve started to do them,” Alhammadi concludes.

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