Smart traffic lights in Liepāja in line with UN SDGs

Smart traffic lights in Liepāja in line with UN SDGs

City officials inaugurating the road safety project

The first smart traffic light in Latvia has been installed in Liepāja, one of the 100 Climate-neutral and smart cities. The smart traffic control device equipped with a machine vision technology is now officially operational at the intersection of Uliha and Robežu streets in the coastal Baltic Sea city of Liepāja.

In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly (resolution 64/255) proclaimed a Decade of Action for Road Safety ("Decade"). As part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the goal of the Decade (2011-2020) was to stabilize and then reduce the forecast level of road traffic deaths around the world.

Road safety was expressly included as an important sustainable development issue in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Road safety is also an important development issue because road accidents, in addition to being a major public health issue, causing human deaths and injuries, also bring costs and economic losses, including those arising from medical treatment, lost productivity for those disabled, and time off work or school taken by family members to care for the injured.

Countries with high levels of road traffic death and injury (like Latvia) are often more likely to have an inequitable transport system that Liepaja has already many years improved. Many are travelling at high speed in the wrong direction along the unsustainable path towards high carbon mobility. By putting in place strategies for low carbon transport we can improve road safety, and vice versa.

We need to do more to encourage safe and liveable urban communities with neighbourhoods designed to promote walking and cycling.

Cities need well managed, safe and affordable public transport, the urban space designed with an emphasis on people, not vehicle volumes. We can and must encourage people to use cars less, by ensuring attractive alternatives. 

Speed management has a vital role to play in improving road safety, in providing an environment in which people want to walk and cycle more, and in reducing vehicle emissions by smoothing traffic flow.

In this project, we also focus among other things on improving possibilities for children to make their school trips independently using sustainable and safe modes instead of being taken to and from schools by private cars.

The first of its kind in Latvia to be officially included in the traffic monitoring system, the recorded information on drivers crossing the intersection at a red light will be transferred to the databases of the Road Traffic Safety Directorate and the Municipal Police, so that administrative penalties can be imposed on traffic offenders.

This smart solution has been running in a test mode at this intersection since autumn 2019, but until now it has only recorded the statistics of traffic offenders. It is quite impressive. For example, more than 600 red light violations have been recorded in the last 8 months. Earlier this spring, the City of Liepāja signed a contract with the mobile operator LMT to officially integrate the system into its traffic monitoring system to improve traffic safety and prevent traffic violations. Liepāja has thus become the first user of innovative road safety solutions in the country.

The smart traffic light is able to perform a number of functions: it recognises and classifies objects, determines their trajectory and location, recognises and reads car licence plates, and can detect the traffic light signal. It is equipped with a highly configured mini-computer with computer vision algorithms, two high-definition video cameras, network connectivity, fixtures and software developed by LMT.

Now installed in Liepāja, the smart system is able to recognise a traffic light, a car and its licence plate. Based on the same technology, new algorithms can be developed to detect other types of traffic offences - driving in a public transport lane, halting at a junction, unauthorised turning, unauthorised crossing of train tracks, driving the wrong way down a one-way street, avoiding traffic jams on kerbs, not wearing helmets for category A vehicles, OCTA and technical inspection violations by licence plate number.


Author: Karlis Beihmanis, Project manager (Climate change and energy efficiency)
City of Liepaja