In planning for traffic and to manage diversion routes during tunnel closures, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi sensors was placed. Data from the sensors gave Victoria´s Highway Department, VicRoads, the ability to assess how a diversion route was operating and to report on changes throughout the day as well as comparing journey times with previous days or weeks.

Melbourne, the second most populous city in Australia, has been conducting essential resurfacing works at several key locations in the city´s road network. This included fully closing two major tunnels, the Domain and Burnley Tunnels, for 5 days over the Christmas holidays. It was predicted that the closing would lead to major congestion, but thanks to months of planning and the use of combined Bluetooth and Wi-Fi sensors, delays were less than initially assumed.

VicRoads was also able to inform and warn drivers about actual delays, both on VMS displays and through the media. By providing early warning to drivers about queue and increased journey times, helped to reduce frustration-driven aggressive driving. Delayed but informed motorists leads to less driver anger. This will reduce the temptation to look for alternative runs, which quickly would become jammed roads.

"We were able to inform the public of delays and show how much longer the drive would take. The upside is that the delays were not out of this world - and if they chose to take the alternative route, we had set out a way they could plan in advance.” said VicRoads’ Director of Road Operations, Dean Zabrieszach.

It was estimated that the closures would increase journey times up to 45 minutes, but sensors showed that the delay only cost drivers an extra 25 minutes in time.

Austraffic Managing Director John Reid explains,“This was a significant closure, the kind that is rarely seen on such major networks. Using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi sensors provided accurate and timely information which is essential in managing traffic flows and reducing the impact on the public.

When professionally used, these sensors are a secure and accurate tool to calculate journey times between pre-determined points providing information that traffic managers desperately need in order to manage congestion issues.

The Minister for Roads and Public Transport, Terry Mulder, visited the VicRoads Traffic Management Centre, which has been the center for traffic management during the tunnel closures. During the visit, Mr. Mulder reviewed the Bluetooth technology that was used and commented, “It is quite fascinating to see how much detail can be provided. The use of this new technology has helped this entire project run smoothly.”

The solution has already fielded interest from other areas of the Victorian government, following the success of this project.

"The BlipTrack solution works by placing sensors at strategic points along roads, transit networks and public places. The sensors detect Bluetooth or Wi-Fi devices, found in mobile phones and in-car audio and communication systems. When a device passes the sensors, its unique ID—called a MAC address—is recorded, encrypted and time-stamped. By re-identifying the device from multiple sensors, specific and accurate statistical information, such as the travel times, average speeds, dwell times and movement patterns become available," explains Christian Bugislaus Carstens, BLIP System’s marketing manager. “The sensors do not pick up any sensitive personal information, only the device’s unique ID, which is not registered in any registers. The unique ID is also encrypted in the sensor, making it impossible to identify the device afterwards.”

Besides measuring and improving traffic in Australia, the solution is successfully employed in optimization efforts for road traffic in New Zealand, USA, UK, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Canada and Ireland. BlipTrack is also implemented in more than 25 international airports, including Genève, New York, Cincinnati, Amsterdam, Dubai, Dublin, Toronto, Milano, Barcelona, Auckland, Brussels, Oslo, Manchester, Copenhagen and Helsinki. In recent years, the solution has also been rolled out in ports, train stations, ski resorts, amusement parks, and at events all over 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.

“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

“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

“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

“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