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Abdulhai discusses how to reduce congestion with intelligence at 'Gateway to Growth Summit'

seated audience focuses on speaking panelists, background slide
March 16, 2023

Above: Professor Baher Abdulhai (top row centre) at the Gateway to Growth Summit's breakout session "Tackling Congestion: Smart Infrastructure in the Zone," March 6, 2023. (Photo supplied by Toronto Region Board of Trade).

Professor Baher Abdulhai took part in the Toronto Region Board of Trade's Gateway to Growth Summit on March 6, 2023. He presented "Tackling Congestion with Intelligence" at the panel session entitled "Tackling Congestion: Smart Infrastructure in the Zone."

The session considered the question "What best-in-class smart infrastructure investments can help solve the crippling transportation gridlock resulting in huge costs and delays in getting products to market, choking the region’s growth potential?"

Abdulhai was joined on the panel by panelist Juan Pablo Bastida, Vice President, Public Sector, Geotab, and moderator Phinjo Gombu, Director, Economic Blueprint Institute, Toronto Region Board of Trade.

He gave a brief overview before discussing the universal cause of congestion: the demand for road capacity exceeding supply. He noted that Toronto is currently the seventh worst city in the world for congestion.

He discussed the typical solutions to congestion—reducing road capacity demand or increasing supply—before highlighting the use of intelligence to reduce congestion.

Abdulhai concluded with several promising smart applications that have the potential to reduce delays and total time spent in traffic by 20-50%:

  1. Adaptive Traffic Control using RL (deep reinforcement learning)
    • Traffic Signals for Streets
    • Ramp Metering and Dynamic Speed Control for Freeways with RL
    • AV Headway Control with RL
  2. Dynamic Congestion Pricing: using Genetic Algorithms
  3. AVs for First and Last Mile

About the Gateway to Growth Summit

The Gateway to Growth Summit was a full-day event featuring expert presentations and discussion, presented by the Toronto Region Board of Trade and sponsored by Scotiabank and University of Toronto.

The area surrounding Pearson International Airport - the Pearson Economic Zone - is the second largest employment zone in Canada and the Gateway to Growth for our region. Home to a significant concentration of firms in advanced manufacturing, life sciences, logistics and warehousing, ‘The Zone’ sits at the heart of a network of highways, rail lines, and international goods movement, making its success vital to our economy and global competitiveness.

However, the Zone’s true potential remains untapped, restricted by transit availability for workers, road congestion, scarcity of employment lands, underinvestment in advanced manufacturing, and a lack of coordinated planning.

Toronto Region Board of Trade Gateway to Growth Summit
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