Think of peer-to-peer like a social media network. A user on a social media platform follows another user in order to receive their posts within their feed in real-time. In a similar manner, a controller within a peer-to-peer network subscribes to another controller in order to receive real-time event communication from neighboring traffic intersections.
This smart connectivity across controllers lets communities enjoy a smoother traffic experience, from increasing travel time reliability and decreasing congestion to preventing collisions and pedestrian injury.
In a recent webinar, Kai Antrim, Territory Manager at Western Systems, explained how a peer-to-peer network works, ways that peer-to-peer technology can improve your traffic conditions and how to set up your traffic controllers for peer-to-peer connectivity.
How Peer-to-Peer Works
Peer-to-peer allows a set of 16 controllers to talk to each other so that they can adaptively respond to changing traffic conditions. You can control which kinds of messages each controller receives from another through logic statements. By applying “if this, then that” algorithms, each controller only receives relevant communication from other controllers when an action is required to be triggered. Controllers in a peer-to-peer network send out small packets of information to trigger actionable responses from other controllers, delivering on the fly decisions from the street.
To be sure the peer to peer is live and healthy, the subscribed controllers send out messages periodically to each other in order to confirm that their peer link connection is still active. This provides you peace of mind that the connection and operation of the roadway network is functioning correctly.
6 Ways You Can Apply Peer-to-Peer
Traffic conditions impact more than drivers on the road. Pedestrians, light rail, heavy rail, bus transport, emergency vehicles—all depend on reliable traffic conditions in order to cross safely and arrive on time.
For all who encounter the road, peer-to-peer logic algorithms offer the ability to add smart functionality, which can positively impact your community.
1. Pedestrian Crossings
Pedestrian crossing times are different than vehicle times and in certain circumstances, require longer time for pedestrians to cross. But these unpredictable pedestrian situations can’t be accommodated effectively in many instances.
With peer-to-peer, you can trigger a routine that’s different than your normal vehicle phase in real-time in order to give pedestrians more time to cross. Peer-to-peer can also extend assigned phases to allow slower pedestrians or larger groups to cross safely.
2. School Zone Safety
Some traffic behaviors are predictable around schools, such as the start or the end of a school day. But what about special functions? Or emergency situations?
Peer-to-peer can provide traffic pattern flexibility that benefits both drivers and pedestrians, no matter the time of day, in order to keep our school zones safe. Specially-placed detectors that tie into nearby flashing beacons can further enhance the response time between controllers so that traffic behavior can better serve the needs of the current situation.
3. Green Band Optimization
This situation is all too familiar: Your car is finally allowed to pass through a green light only to stop at a red light at the next intersection.
Peer-to-peer can achieve green band optimization so that you can increase travel time reliability and reduce emissions. With the right logic statements in place, events triggered across your controllers can move vehicles through more green lights more efficiently without sacrificing your side streets to accommodate traffic flow.
4. Ramp Queue Management
Accidents, construction, weather, rush hour—these are many causes that can lead to major backups on-ramp queues. But it’s these backups that can in turn cause collisions and extended delays.
By assigning the right logic statements, peer-to-peer can flush out your onramps and keep traffic moving. Controllers across a peer-to-peer network can trigger events so that traffic flow is managed several intersections away from the onramp, thus preventing major backups.
5. Less Traveled Intersections
Traffic patterns are less predictable on smaller streets and less traveled intersections. And when congestion occurs, drivers are more likely stuck waiting with no room to turn around or alternate route to take.
Peer-to-peer is just as effective on side streets as it is at major thoroughfares. Controllers can trigger events on the mainline in order to provide efficient traffic flow and prevent backups on smaller streets within your community.
6. Preemption for Railroad Crossings
Priority and preemption features are normally associated with the functionality needed to support emergency vehicles and bus transport. But what if it’s possible to apply the same amount of control over certain situations where heavy rail and general traffic intersect?
Your peer-to-peer network can coordinate the best traffic flow patterns at nearby intersections through its preemptive control capabilities. Railroad crossings no longer have to hold up traffic when a train passes through.
3 Steps to Set up Peer-to-Peer
You can set up your peer-to-peer network locally using Siemens M60 controllers.
A peer-to-peer network works best when M60 controllers, traffic cabinets and RUGGEDCOM switches are already installed and supported by your traffic network. From the Active Status Menu within your Siemens Controller, select the 5-COMMUNICATIONS menu in order to begin setting up your peer-to-peer network in just three manageable steps.
Step 1: Configure All Controllers to a Shared IP Address
Configuration should happen from the main controller on your network. From here, you can configure that controller’s IP address with all of the controllers to be connected on your peer-to-peer network.
Step 2: Configure Sources
Assign each controller as peers with one another and establish a connection with each of its peer controllers. You can expect to receive feedback confirming that a successful connection is established.
Step 3: Assign Functions
Once there’s an established connection, you are then prompted to assign functions between these controllers. This is where you configure the data you want to receive from its peer as logic statements.
Not every setup of a peer-to-peer network is the same. Contact us to further explore the programming and networking possibilities of peer-to-peer for you. Our technical support team is also standing by to help you with all of your traffic communication needs, be it by phone, email or online webinars as well as optional onsite field services.