February 4, 2014 10:49 am

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.

“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