A new traffic solution that in real-time displays the fastest route from the Port of Aalborg and to the E45 highway, is tackling the increasing congestion problems at both the Port of Aalborg and the eastern part of the city.

The Port of Aalborg, in North Jutland, Denmark, is using BlipTrack technology to improve traffic management, enabling it to know where vehicles are located in real time, how fast they are moving and, therefore, how traffic is flowing. The port first began working with BLIP Systems in 2011 to develop a solution that would help identify when drivers arrived at certain locations. The first phase of the project focused on documenting traffic flow on internal port roads by detecting Bluetooth devices. It next plans to add more sensors to track traffic patterns on external roads that travel between different freight terminals in the area.

The Port of Aalborg has a five-century history of moving cargo into and out of the North Jutland area. The port was first established in 1476 with a few simple piers. Today, the 24-hour port imports and exports commodities such as cement, coal, feedstuffs, fertiliser, grain and oil cargoes, and includes a railroad, a warehouse and a quay. Two additional private ports include a cement factory, Aalborg Portland A/S, and a power station, Vattenfall A/S.

The movement of cargo, naturally, leads to traffic, says Mette Schmidt, the Port of Aalborg's chief technical officer, and that concerns both the port and the community in which it's located. The port sought an automated solution that would not only help relieve traffic congestion by alerting drivers of conditions in real time, but would also provide analytical data for better traffic flow management. "This applies for the number of vessels and goods by ship but also on land, where it is interesting to know the flow of traffic in and out of the port," Schmidt states.

Screen-at-the-office-at-the-Port-of-AalborgThe port and the entire eastern part of the city are experiencing increased traffic in recent years, which means greater congestion, says Christian Bugislaus Carstens, BLIP Systems' marketing manager. Approximately 1,000 vehicles arrive at the port each day to deliver or pick up cargo. This heavy traffic load affects not only the port but also the community, in which about 10,000 vehicles travel daily. This will become increasingly important as a new university hospital is slated for completion in 2020, which will increase traffic in the area around the port by around 13,000 cars per day. Therefore, Schmidt says, providing drivers with the ability to choose alternative routes is important.

“For us it is crucial that we are able reach our customers on time, and time is money for us. Time is also a key parameter in our quality, enabling us to meet the demands and expectations from our clients. It is therefore important that we are able to choose which roads we should select and deselect," says Niels Birk, Terminal Manager for Danske Fragtmænd.

In 2011, BLIP Systems installed the first BlipTrack sensors on existing poles along the port's internal routes, as well as at the port and on highways leading to the port. The sensors works by collecting non-personal data from driver´s mobile devices, such as phones and tablets. By re-identifying the devices from multiple sensors, the travel times, dwell times and movement patterns become available. Importantly, the solution does not send or track any personal information; it simply monitors the number of Bluetooth devices signals in a given area. 

During the next phase of the deployment, the port would like to expand the solution's use to a larger geographic area, so as to analyse traffic flow between the various transportation hubs. "The solution would allow us to monitor strange [unusual] traffic and freight patterns," Schmidt says. "The good questions often lead to new ideas, but without data, you will have no knowledge."

With the information the port has gathered thus far, along with an analysis of that data, it expects to create congestion patterns that might be predictable.

Sign-with-travel-times-at-the-Port-of-Aalborg"At this time, we only have minor traffic problems, but when the new university hospital is finished in a couple of years, a doubling of the traffic is expected. This will affect the main corridor out of the port," Schmidt says. "So it is important to have before-and-now data in order to make a future prognosis. With the solution from BLIP Systems, we are able to do just that."

Drivers can access to the Port of Aalborg´s website, where the current driving times are continuously updated and displayed in real-time. The Port of Aalborg also disseminate driving times on physical signs at the exit roads to the port area.

“BLIP systems´ traffic monitoring solution BlipTrack has given us a unique opportunity to deliver new logistics solutions for the benefit of our customers”. Read more

Mette Schmidt

Chief Technical Officer for the Port of Aalborg