Thanks to years of collecting traffic data, based on the movement of Bluetooth devices, Aarhus municipality in Denmark can now see the effects of construction projects, roadwork, traffic accidents and faulty traffic lights.
Aarhus, Denmark’s second-largest city, has been using BlipTrack Bluetooth sensors for several years to collect traffic information, based on the movement of road users´ Bluetooth devices. The sensors, placed on the entire road network, including adjacent highways, provides the city with both real-time and historical traffic information, including driving times, speed, dwell times and flow.
Besides the benefits of real-time reporting, which enables the city to gain in-depth insight and understanding of current road density, flow and formation of queues, and share traffic information with road users on signs, the historical data is now being used to detect driving time anomalies. Effectively, this means that the city 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.
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. The city is provided with an overview of the current situation and tendencies over time, to initiate countermeasures.
Alarm visualisation can be displayed in various ways; for example, over time and for each road section, based on intersection errors, or the impact of a major traffic accident. It can show the scattering effect that can cause both deterioration and improvement of driving times - depending on what alternative routes motorists choose to take advantage of - or if road users are prevented from reaching parts of roads.
“The benefits we have gained from the 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," says Asbjørn Halskov-Sørensen, ITS Project Manager at Aarhus Municipality.
Intersection alarm, analysis and optimisation.
Aarhus has around 230 intersections regulated by traffic lights. If just one of these traffic signal installations is not working optimally or breaks down, it directly affects traffic flow in a large surrounding area.
While the many traffic light installations do have built-in alarm systems that warn about mechanical errors, such as broken bulbs, programming errors and communication trouble in the connection to other linked systems, these alarm systems are "dumb", unable to report on the consequences of the errors or traffic regulation programs. The alarm systems cannot see whether an error is causing queue formation or longer driving times for the road users, and they cannot see whether the amount of traffic has changed over time, calling for a change to the traffic light system program. It means, for example, that sudden or continuous traffic increase could result in significant gridlock, without warning.
To meet this challenge, Aarhus opted to turn the problem on its head and to see the traffic flow from road users’ perspective. Since the Bluetooth sensors measure both short and long distances, as well as the turn flow movements through intersections, and groups of traffic lights in the road network, the solution provides an objective, measurable expression of road users’ driving experience. Now, issues are detected, enabling the city to ensure that traffic lights are working correctly and programmed optimally.
The solution has quickly become an indispensable supplement to the existing surveillance system for the Aarhus traffic light installations. Various unfavourable situations have proven to be detectable with direct reference to driving time data, such as:
- Errors caused by incorrect activation of traffic light programs, such as the rush hour program
- Missing or lengthy activation of turn phases
- Defective surveillance systems
- Human error, such as forgetting to switch back to the standard program following maintenance
- Incorrect timing of coordination chains ("green wave")
All these factors play a crucial role in identifying traffic signal installations that need optimisation, but also regarding what needs to be optimised and, ultimately, whether the efforts had the intended effect.
“BlipTrack data is generally used for much more than just being able to measure the effect of signal optimisation and roadwork/construction projects, but this is clearly an important part of its application," says Asbjørn Halskov-Sørensen. "Ultimately, the data contributes to an improved economy and a better environment through reduced driving times and fuel consumption, and thus reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.”
With the new approach, Aarhus now enjoys a full overview and understanding of all dynamics of its traffic. Since the city has full access to all the raw data, unlike with similar solutions, the plan is to combine the solution with existing surveillance systems. It would enable the city to qualify the individual system’s alarms to an even greater extent.
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.
Auckland Airport Take to the Streets to Boost City-to-Gate Passenger Experience.
“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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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”
Traffic Manager at Higgins / M2PP