July 20, 2015 11:47 am

Traveling in New Zealand will be more predictable thanks to Bluetooth sensors that collect and share live traffic information with drivers.

Throughout the construction of the Kapiti Expressway, traffic management has played a vital part in minimizing disruption for motorists. New sensor technology utilizes real-time information to help manage the daily commute. 

A network of BlipTrack sensors, from Denmark-based information technology company BLIP Systems, have been installed by The New Zealand Transport Agency’s on roads around Auckland International Airport, Kãpiti, Tauranga and parts of the Bay of Plenty. The sensors record in real-time journey times and queue wait times from sites around the North Island of New Zealand.

This real-time traffic information is communicated directly back to motorists. The information is streamed live to a dedicated mobile website called DriveLive which advises people how long journeys are currently taking on selected key routes. In addition, variable message signs, placed along the highway, displays estimated travel time to destinations, enabling drivers to plan their travel around that information.

The New Zealand Transport Agency’s Bay of Plenty journey manager, Nigel D’Ath says the DriveLive initiative will help people to plan ahead and work out the best time to travel, and what time they are likely to arrive at their destination.

"Knowing how long a journey will take is important for people and businesses," he says. People have told us that being unable to predict journey times with certainty is one of their biggest frustrations, resulting in lost time and productivity. The DriveLive website will provide people with live information to help them make smarter travel choices and hopefully save time each day. Not only will travelers know what to expect, they will be able to share that information with others."

Mr D’Ath says the New Zealand Transport Agency and project consultants, Beca decided to roll out the initiative as there are a number of large road projects in the pipeline.

“We know, from using the BlipTrack technology, when the busy peaks are. We use the technology also to actually see how long are the delays we´re causing, doing construction. Traffic management is all about keeping the community moving in a very safe manner, past the work sites. It gives safety for the motorists, pedestrians and cyclists as well as our work crews, whilst we cause minimum delays,” said Chris Harmer, Traffic Manager at Higgins.

The BlipTrack sensors also measure travel time savings and reliability improvements, such as in the one of the New Zealand Highway Agency biggest road building project, the Waikato Expressway. To measure the effectiveness of the new Expressway, sensors recorded traffic flows prior to its opening and after opening. Based on this large data set it was possible to demonstrate significant journey time savings totaling yearly savings of 7.6 million dollars to the New Zealand economy.

The solution works by detecting motorists driving with a Bluetooth or WiFi device, such as in hands-free systems and mobile phones. When a vehicle with an activated Bluetooth or WiFi device passes the sensors, its anonymous ID, also called a MAC address, is recorded, encrypted and time-stamped. By combining and analyzing the data collected by all sensors, an accurate picture about each road user, such as their travel times, dwell times and movement patterns are provided. The information can be used to inform and warn about queues and delays, identify problem areas, evaluate and calibrate traffic signals, provide information on the capacity of existing roads, and detect changes in traffic patterns.

The solution is also deployed at Auckland Airport to monitor the behavior of passengers, optimize operation and improve the passenger experience.

In addition to measure traffic in New Zealand, US, UK, Switzerland and Denmark, The solution is successfully employed in optimization efforts in ports in Denmark and UK, train stations in Holland, ski resorts in the US and Australia, amusement parks, and at events all over the world. In addition, the solution is installed in more than 25 international airports, including JFK, Amsterdam, Dubai, Dublin, Toronto, Milano, Barcelona, Auckland, Cincinnati, Brussels, Manchester, Copenhagen, Helsinki and Oslo.

“We know, from using the BlipTrack technology, when the busy peaks are. We use the technology also to actually see how long are the delays we´re causing, doing construction”

Chris Harmer
Traffic Manager at Higgins / M2PP

BlipTrack has provided our clients with an unparalleled range of traffic information. Using the same data we can provided live travel times direct to signs and phones, identify incidents and delays through to understanding the strategic route choices, origin / destination and changing travel patterns. Read more

Richard Young
Associate at BECA