Rapid growth has prompted Astana officials to implement an intelligent transportation system, and Wavetronix sensors have an important part to play in helping the city keep up with traffic.

June 05, 2014

PROVO, UT—Built with tenacious ambition and oil money, Kazakhstan’s capital is one of the most unique cities on earth. Less than 20 years ago Astana was little more than a wide spot along the Ishim River; today, it’s one of the most important cultural, artistic, architectural and commercial destinations in Eastern Europe. 

Astana is seeing a population explosion, growing from just under 300,000 in 1997, when Astana was named the new capital of Kazakhstan, to over 820,000 today. In addition to the population boom, tourism is on the rise, as Astana has constructed world-class concert halls, aquariums, sports complexes, museums, monuments and architectural wonders designed by top international architects. More than 500,000 tourists visit each year, and that number is expected to grow considerably; in three years, the city will host Expo 2017 and officials anticipate approximately three million additional visitors. 

This rapid growth has prompted Astana officials to implement an intelligent transportation system, and Wavetronix sensors have an important part to play in helping the city keep up with traffic. Astana’s ITS project had specific requirements for its detection technology: first, it had to be flexible in order to respond to changing traffic conditions in real time; second, it needed to be able to monitor traffic loads on the road network; third, it had to reduce transportation losses and increase the speed of public transportation. Finally, the detectors had to withstand Kazakhstan’s harsh climate. In Astana, extremely cold winter temperatures can reach minus 40 degrees Celsius (minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit), and temperatures can drop by more than 20 degrees during the day.

This extreme cold causes the pavement in Northern Kazakhstan to have a short lifespan, and as a consequence, loops were not the most appropriate detection option, says Viktor Masalevichius, the chief expert on traffic at SMEU-Astana, the contractor for Astana’s ITS project. However, SmartSensors proved to be a great alternative to loops because they are non-intrusive and work in all weather conditions.

“With the help of SmartSensors, we were able to eliminate the use of inductive loops in the asphalt,” Masalevichius said. 

SmartSensor HD was utilized at the beginning of the project as part of a mobile detection station in order to record baseline data on traffic flows; this information was used to develop an ITS scheme. Because HD is simple to move and calibrate, traffic specialists had easy access to a variety of data including vehicle counts, lane occupancy, and per vehicle speed. Meanwhile, SmartSensor Matrix is being used at intersections as a stationary vehicle detector. Matrix detects the true presence of vehicles at the stop bar; these detections are converted into contact closures and delivered to the controller via Wavetronix Click 111 and Click 222 cabinet interface devices. 

According to Masalevichius, Wavetronix provided support through every step of the process, including roadside and classroom training on the installation and configuration of Matrix and HD units. 

As Astana continues to grow, more and more people will flock to the city looking for employment and entertainment in a region of the world where both are in short supply. By utilizing Wavetronix products in its ITS system, Astana’s growing population should be able to move safely and efficiently for years to come.