April 4, 2013 7:50 am
In the Municipality of Koege, near Copenhagen in Denmark, traffic jams occur as they do everywhere else, much to the annoyance of drivers. However, the municipality has plans to do something about that with the assistance of the Bluetooth solution BlipTrack. With the help of the consultancy firm COWI A/S, the system has been developed to also be able to identify vehicular traffic. This got Koege Municipality interested.
“BlipTrack makes it possible to see how poorly a traffic signal handles the traffic – and to address the problems”, says civil engineer Thomas Meier from Koege Municipality.
The municipality has earmarked 1,3 million Euro to improve some of the junctions, where traffic jams create a lot of frustration for the drivers. And it is especially at three locations in Koege City, where morning and afternoon traffic create severe traffic jams.
The genius of BlipTrack is that it is simple, yet very effective. Two boxes are attached to posts at a traffic-congested stretch. The boxes detect the Bluetooth signals from the cars, registering how long it takes a car to drive from box A to box B. Bluetooth is a wireless data network, which is found in mobile phones and headsets. About 27 percent of all drivers have a Bluetooth device turned on and BlipTrack captures the data from these devices.
“Time is money. That is why we would like to make an effort to make the traffic flow more efficiently”, explains Thomas Meier.
Before the new system was invented, the Municipality had to hire local high school students to write down the number plates of passing cars at the congested roads. BlipTrack is significantly more efficient and registers traffic around the clock. Thomas Meier can monitor all the data on his computer and thus get an accurate picture of when and where traffic jams occur. This information makes it possible to proceed in the process of finding solutions to traffic problems.
A measurement of a stretch through Koege shows that it takes nearly twice as long to drive through the city during rush hour. It may be due to several factors. The most obvious is that the traffic lights are not set optimally, so that the light signal will turn red, while there is still a long queue and turn green, when there are only few cars. Another reason may be the lack of a turning lane despite the fact that many drivers need to make a turn.
Civil engineer Thomas Meier, Koege Municipality, has got great expectations for the effect of BlipTrack. He hopes that in the future, people will be able to click through to a website and see where there is currently a traffic jam, find an alternative route and thus with a little luck avoid ending up in long queues biting their nails.