Sweden’s capital is alleviating congestion and giving road users more accurate, live traffic information, thanks to BlipTrack technology. It all comes down to real-time and historical travel and flow data gathered directly from road users Bluetooth and Wi-Fi devices.

In Stockholm, the most populous city in Scandinavia, the number of cars on the roads is continually increasing, leading to higher congestion, reduced road accessibility, and increased environmental pollution. In Stockholm County alone, there are over 400 passenger cars per 1,000 inhabitants, a number compounded by occupational vehicles and public transport that also contribute to congested road networks.

To increase travel time transparency, reduce environmental impact and optimise traffic flow, the city realised they needed to have a bird’s-eye view of the traffic network, as well as detailed, up-close analysis of ongoing issues. They also needed a way to act fast when things start to bottleneck.

After reviewing several systems, Traffic Stockholm found that the best solution for the job was the BlipTrack queue and travel time measurement technology.

The solution is primarily based on the movement of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi-enabled devices in cars. It provides the city with both real-time and historical traffic information, including detailed statistical information on the travel times, average speeds, dwell times, and movement patterns.

“We use the data for measuring the development in traffic density, speed and congestion,” says Otto Astrand, Traffic Analyst at Trafik Stockholm. “South of Stockholm, where we first installed the solution, will be a roadwork zone for many years ahead, when building the Stockholm Bypass. It will not only affect the main highway (E4) running through the work zone, but also the surrounding roads. With BlipTrack we are able to measure the capacity and traffic flow in real-time in and around the area. This allows us to take proactive steps to initiate countermeasures, if traffic build-up should occur. It also helps us to understand various traffic-related matters, such as the impact of traffic control, weather-related patterns, congestion patterns at roadworks, accidents and events, and driving behaviours and patterns. With this information, we can evaluate and validate existing traffic models and make informed decisions about where to prioritise expansions and optimisations to help the daily commute.”

Astrand continues, “Measuring travel times over longer distances in complex traffic environments is complicated to do with our traditional sensors, such as radar and microwave detectors. This solution gives us insights on how much individual journeys can differ from each other, especially when traffic lights are involved. The ability to measure travel times over longer stretches of road, with various queue lengths, and only looking at specific route choices, is another strength of the solution.”

Crowd-sourcing and probe-data services from large, well-known international traffic data providers were unable to provide individual vehicle data over specific distances. Additionally, their licensing restrictions limited data retention and the applications for what their data could be used. A lack of transparency and auditability of those data sources rendered them unsuitable for this specific work.

Johanna Karlsson, CEO of Trafik Stockholm, says: "We are always trying new technologies for traffic monitoring and BlipTrack complements our other sensors and data sources very well. The ability to measure travel times, monitor queues and perform origin/destination analysis convinced us to adopt the solution for Stockholm. The ability to detect and mitigate disruptive events offers significant economic benefits through reduced travel times and fuel consumption, as well as environmental benefits due to reduced CO2 emissions, and improved air quality.”

The analysed data is also used to display live traffic information on signs around the city.

Otto Astrand explains: “We also use the data to display live travel times via Trafiken.nu, which is our traffic information hub, and on several VMS signs placed around the city. The travel times help road users to make informed decisions about their journey, both in real-time and for those planning their daily commute.”

The travel times are continuously updated, in line with the actual behaviour of road users, so, by considering their route and the time they depart, motorists themselves are helping to reduce bottlenecks and keep traffic moving.

Besides the benefits of real-time reporting, the empirical data is used to detect driving time anomalies. Effectively, this means that the solution can pinpoint road sections and intersections where driving times deviate from the norm as a result of construction projects, incidents, roadwork, faulty traffic lights and other factors. With this information at hand, real-time traffic management can take place.

The data provides a thorough comparison of current vs typical driving times, minute-by-minute throughout the day. The standard driving times, which are continuously updated, are based on various type of days (weekdays, weekend, vacation season or not) and time of day.

If driving times deviate from the typical driving time, the system automatically raises a flag. As the system logs and visualises all deviations, traffic engineers can create historical performance and reliability reports based on deviations from the norm. Managers are provided with an overview of the current situation and tendencies over time, to allow for road improvements and development where needed.

Stockholm joins a host of other major cities, including Bangkok in Thailand, Zurich in Switzerland, Aarhus and Copenhagen in Denmark, Portsmouth and Port of Dover in the UK and most of New Zealand, which use the solution to measure and optimise how road users travel and use the city´s roads. BlipTrack is also implemented in more than 25 international airports including New York, Cincinnati, San Diego, Amsterdam, Dublin, Manchester, Copenhagen, Auckland, Brussels, Oslo, and Geneva. In recent years, it has also been rolled out in train stations, ski resorts, theme parks, and at events around the world.

Ever-increasing global travel volume is having a severe impact on airports like New Zealand’s Auckland International, which saw over 19 million passengers last year. The airport is taking the increased passenger flow and logistics issues seriously, using a unique combination of traffic and passenger flow measurement technology. The result? Faster travel times, acceptable wait times, less passenger stress and a wealth of information that helps the airports and the city to plan resources more efficiently.

Auckland - a growing hub for travel

Auckland Airport expects to host over 40 million passengers annually by the year 2044. To cope with the increase in passenger load, the airport embarked on a wide-ranging and world first combined passenger-flow and road-traffic measurement project, with the goal of obtaining a cohesive real-time view of people movement patterns, to guide daily and long-term operational decisions, maximise capacity and improve flow.

In its build, the airport has opted to aim for sustainability, while ensuring that they will not only have the capacity to handle the extra people, but also the capability to make the passenger journey as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Keeping things flowing

Smooth passenger flow, both in the arrival and departure terminals, and the concession and transit waiting areas, as well as on the roads surrounding the airport, is critical to the successful operation of an airport.

Issues with traffic flows can result in delays for passengers, airport staff and airline crew, resulting in disruptions to airport and airline operations.

To manage both passenger and traffic flow, Auckland Airport realised they needed to have a bird’s-eye view of the entire system, as well as detailed, up-close analysis of ongoing issues. They also needed a way to act when things start to bottleneck.

With several traffic monitoring projects in New Zealand, using the same technology, infrastructure consultants Beca was commissioned to extend the solution across the airport’s roading infrastructure. It now provides the airport with a seamless picture of traffic flow information between the airport and Auckland CBD (Central Business District, also called the city centre).

How it works

On the Road

Outside the airport, the solution measures traffic flow between the CBD and the airport, providing real-time data on reliability, vehicle counts and travel time.

It provides data about the mix of staff and passengers using the Park and Ride facility, enabling the airport to understand the performance better and regularly review how they can improve their facilities. This information is also analysed to help planning decisions for road network maintenance and infrastructure projects.

The insights, collected using a range of technologies, including radar and WiFi sensors, also help the New Zealand Traffic Agency (NZTA) to make informed traffic management decisions and has allowed for the implementation of a number of initiatives to improve the traffic flow to the airport. It includes optimising traffic signal timings, and combined with the recent opening of the newly constructed Waterview connection, has resulted in significant travel time cuts to and from the airport from the CBD and West Auckland.

Also, the real-time and historical BlipTrack data enables NZTA, via their new app RideMate and online, to display live travel times between the CBD and airport, as well as informing about days with a high risk of congestion. It enables road users to plan ahead, reducing both the risk of travellers missing their flight and airport employees coming in late for work.

Besides the benefits of real-time reporting, the historical data is used to detect driving time anomalies. Effectively, this means that the solution can pinpoint road sections and intersections where driving times deviate from the norm as a result of construction projects, incidents, roadwork, faulty traffic lights and other factors. With this information at hand, real-time traffic management can take place.

Richard Young, Senior Associate at Beca, says: “The intelligence that BlipTrack is delivering has already proved its value, by providing automated alerts on delays on vulnerable corridors, real-time counts on traffic flows and delays, and intelligence on the origin and destination of vehicle movements into the airport and to terminals and car parks.”

In the airport

Inside the airport, the solution provides metrics on passenger queue times and volume, as well as insight into passenger movement patterns throughout the international and domestic terminals´ departure and arrival processes.

It helps the airport better manage and support resources by focusing on high-demand locations and periods. Likewise, the data directly benefits passengers by displaying wait times at security checkpoints, managing passenger expectations and reducing queue-related stress.

Mark Croudace, Manager – Operations at Auckland International Airport, says: “BlipTrack was a critical investment. The data has provided valuable insight into our operational performance across both our assets and processes. Most importantly, it has enabled us to have meaningful conversations with our key operational stakeholders and vendors, as we collectively seek to improve the passenger experience.”

Changing the face of travel

Numerous other international airports, including Amsterdam Schiphol, Copenhagen, Dublin, Brussels, Bristol and Billund, are following suit. These airports have recognised that comprehensive, seamless passenger flow data is indispensable in guiding physical expansion plans, and for streamlining operations to accommodate rapid passenger volume growth, without compromising the passenger experience.

“By having Auckland Airport and Beca working together, and by sharing data between multiple solutions, BlipTrack provides a solution that no other product in the industry can currently reproduce – large-scale, seamless, door-to-door movement management between different modes of transport. And because it´s not only limited to certain areas, it can be considered as one of the first real, tangible steps to true multimodal traffic management,” ends Peter Knudsen, CEO of BLIP Systems.

Besides providing airports around the world with seamless passenger flow data, the solution is employed in optimisation efforts in road traffic applications in Switzerland, Thailand, Canada, the UK, Denmark and Sweden. In recent years, it has been rolled out in ports, train stations, ski resorts, amusement parks, and at events around the world.

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Auckland Airport Take to the Streets to Boost City-to-Gate Passenger Experience.

“BlipTrack complements our other data sources very well. The ability to measure travel times, monitor queues and perform origin/destination analysis convinced us to adopt the solution for the city of Stockholm.”

Johanna Karlsson

CEO of Trafik Stockholm

“BlipTrack helped Thai citizens to travel home faster during two major traffic events: Songkran and New Year holidays. The system allowed not only road users to decide route choices via travel time info online but also the Thai Highway Police to manage traffic in real-time.”

Dr. Songrit Chayanan

Director of Samut Sakhon Highway District.

“BlipTrack has helped us get a better understanding of the dynamic traffic system and provides quantifiable data to support the improvement measures to traffic flows. This will allow us to continue to provide a world-class service to our customers and community by efficiently managing traffic flows in and out of the port.” Read more.

Timothy Godden

General Manager of Strategy and Risk Management at Port of Dover

“The BlipTrack solution helps improve service levels for the municipality commuters. The real-time travel time and wait time information allows drivers to make informed route choices that ultimately distribute traffic and increases the operational performance of the road network.”

Anders Kruse Christiansen

Project Manager at Aarhus Municipality

“The data from the BlipTrack sensors reveals, how reliable traveling times are and how much they vary. Furthermore, they show, which routes are used for shortcuts in peak times. This information is useful for managing road traffic”.

Dr. Christian Ordon

Project Leader at the Office of Transport of the Canton of Zürich.

“The BlipTrack solution is the easiest way of collecting valid data for a travel time measurement. The data, especially when used for collecting travel times and turning ratios, are very accurate.”

Thorsten Kathmann

Project leader at DTV-Verkehrsconsult

“We consider that the ease of extracting traffic data from BlipTrack is significant to see how time savings are achieved. Selecting the required route, date, time, etc. is very straightforward and simple to understand.”

Lee Gilbert

Traffic Engineer at Portsmouth City Council

“The benefits we have gained from the BlipTrack solution since implementation are very significant. We now discover errors and irregularities that we would not have a chance to see otherwise. In addition, it is extremely educational and easy accessible to study how the incidents of various kinds influence the road network.”

Asbjørn Halskov-Sørensen

Project Manager at Aarhus Municipality

“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