The St Petersburg Ring Road is the city’s main traffic artery linking all the major routes leaving the centre for Moscow, Helsinki, Kiev, Tallinn, and Murmansk. The Ring Road Control Room was opened in December 2010 and is the most important part of the project. The main contractor was NefteGazOptimizatsiya (NGO), which specialises in developing intelligent transport systems for roadways (ITS). The visualisation aspect of the project was implemented by Viking, a company based in St Petersburg, and one of Christie’s long-time partners. The selection of Christie MicroTiles was central to the decision to create a video wall.
A contemporary ITS system had to be set up to resolve a whole range of issues: increasing the Ring Road’s capacity, improving traffic flow, improving road safety, optimising traffic speed, minimising the time spent entering and exiting junctions, improving fuel efficiency, and minimising emissions, as well as enhancing the efficiency of road services.
“This is the most important component of the St Petersburg road network, and that is why these road safety issues have been a priority for us”, commented Artyom Filimonov, Head of ITS Operations for the Ring Road. “The intelligent transport system we have set up, of which the Control Room is an integral part, meets all the present-day challenges that face road traffic infrastructure facilities.”
Artyom noted that one of the main problems is road traffic accidents (RTAs). The automated, intelligent RTA identification system includes more than 600 sensors monitoring the traffic flow and identifying hold-ups, and more than 60 video cameras which, when in manual mode, allow events on the road to be observed, and in automatic mode are able to recognise irregular occurrences. Without doubt, the ‘heart’ of the Control Room is the visualisation system itself – a remote viewing display. Created from 72 Christie MicroTiles (in a 12x6 layout), it gives a precise, bright, detailed image in high resolution, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year in, year out.
The developers of the Ring Road ITS, NGO, point out that an intelligent system removes the ‘human factor’: an operator may not notice an accident on a given section of the road, but the automated system can identify the spot and notify the operator itself.
The video wall in the Control Room displays images from the network’s monitors and the system’s servers. The Control Room staff are able to look out for events happening along the entire route and analyse them in real time. Content is managed through eight Christie MicroTiles external control unit cards and a controller with eight DVI outlets, eight VGA/DVI outlets, and the ability to be connected to the local network.
“Twenty-six interchanges, 106 bridges, overpasses, flyovers, and tunnels: these are significant numbers”, commented Michael Eidemiller, head of the project for Viking. “The need for continuous uninterrupted service combined with impeccable image quality was the deciding factor in choosing Christie MicroTiles. This was the first project in which we have used MicroTiles in this kind of installation. It was all decided after the client was convinced by a demonstration of the improvement offered by these small video-projector cubes when compared with the performance of standard-size models. Therefore we jointly decided not to go with the 50" or 70" traditional video-projector cubes that we had originally seen.”
Another major advantage of this visualisation system, according to Eidemiller, was the high density of pixels in the images (one pixel measures 0.56mm), and the fact that the display modules are only 26cm deep, with the control input for the video wall on the front surface.
Igor Popov, Chief Engineer in the Capital Construction and Technical Supervision Department of NGO, emphasised that Christie MicroTiles technology provides a far better image display than that offered by plasma screens. “Due to the fact that the clearance between the modules is minimal – just over 1mm – the eye scarcely notices the divisions in the image, and the picture is seen as a whole rather than piecemeal."
“MicroTiles are a forward-thinking development from Christie, in which the light source is an LED”, adds Evgeny Blinov, Viking’s Technical Director. “Unlike other high-pressure gas-charged lamps, an LED lighting system is not susceptible to sudden drops in power supply, does not require intensive cooling, and has a useful lifespan of around 65,000 hours. The image on the screen is generated by a DLP chip, and the absence of a colour selection wheel (colour is generated by LED) improves the reliability of the equipment.”
Construction of the Ring Road began in 2001, and the eastern loop was opened to traffic in 2008; the western loop was opened in November 2010. The total length of the road is now 116.75 km, or 142.15 km including the part that crosses the Gulf of Finland on artificial levees. This is the only road in St Petersburg on which traffic is allowed to travel at high speed: the limit is 110kph.
The entire intricate set-up of the Ring Road’s ITS is now in the final stages of customisation. However, now that they have experience of using this cutting-edge multi-access visualisation system based on Christie MicroTiles, specialists can look at extending its application and using this technology in other projects.