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.”
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.
“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, enabling us to evaluate and validate existing traffic models and make informed decisions about where to prioritise expansions and optimisations to help the daily commute.”
Traffic Analyst at Trafik Stockholm
It gives us insights on how individual journeys can differ from each other, especially when traffic lights are involved. The ability to measure travel times over long stretches of road, with various queue lengths, and only looking at specific route choices, is another strength of the BlipTrack solution.”
CEO of Trafik Stockholm
“BlipTrack helps 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.
“With BlipTrack, we can discover errors and irregularities that we would not have a chance to see otherwise. In addition, it is extremely educational and easily accessible to study how the incidents of various kinds influence the road network.”
Project Manager at Aarhus Municipality
“The solution helps improve service levels for the municipality commuters. The real-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
“Portsmouth has benefited from the accurate data from the BlipTrack installations with a much-improved understanding of journey times within the city of Portsmouth. 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.”
Traffic Engineer at Portsmouth City Council
“BlipTrack is an optimal solution to perform Origin and Destination studies in major traffic areas. The solution is extremely cost efficient compared to traditional technologies and outstanding in measuring travel times. BlipTracks´s user-friendly analytical tools provide us with a complete overview of the traffic situation”
Project Manager at Dynniq
“BlipTrack is the most innovative solution we deploy. It provides our customers all they need to know about how the streets and roads they are responsible for are operating.
Managing Director at Bandwidth Telecommunications Limited
“The solution has helped us get a better understanding of the dynamic traffic system and provides quantifiable data to support the improvement measures to traffic flows. It allows us to provide a world-class service to our customers and community by efficiently managing traffic flows in and out of the port.” Read more.
General Manager of Strategy and Risk Management at Port of Dover
“BlipTrack provides the Aalborg City Business Association with an in-depth understanding on how people move within the city and measures the economic impact of events. The data allow us to analyze, optimize and improve large-scale events”. Read more
Director of Aalborg City Business Association
BlipTrack provide 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
Associate at BECA
“The BlipTrack solution is very cost effective, easy to install and commission, and the filter engine provides a robust method for removing the outlier data sets caused by vehicles stopping at shops, etc. BlipTrack has provided our clients with a level of confidence in better understanding journey times and hence managing the expectations of the travelling public.” Read more
Managing Director of Smart Video & Sensing Ltd
“BlipTrack offer accurate, robust traffic monitoring from the busiest highway to city streets, at very low cost and with no traffic disruption. We are seeing tremendous interest from provincial and city road agencies across Canada and in the US as they all seek to immediately better manage traffic throughout their road networks.”
CEO of G4Apps
“BlipTrack give us a unique opportunity to deliver new logistics solutions for the benefit of our customers”. Read more
Chief Technical Officer for the Port of Aalborg