Sensors, utilizing Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology, help the city of Portsmouth to monitor the road conditions. The solution measures the impact of road works and events, and maximize the effectiveness of diversion routes, to ensure optimal network operation.

The city of Portsmouth, one of the most densely populated cities in the UK, has monitored journey times and traffic patterns for the last two years, on the city´s most congested roads. The real-time data has helped traffic engineers to better understand traffic flows, improve planning and allow the council to reroute traffic to less congested routes, preventing massive tailbacks before they form.

BlipTrack-Traffic-IllustrationTo help manage the challenges of optimising and improving the road infrastructure and predict traffic build-up, Portsmouth City Council turned to a mobile technology solution. In 2013, a network of BlipTrack sensors, from Denmark-based information technology company BLIP Systems, was implemented by VAR Smart CCTV, which also is responsible for liaison with the city and their consultants.

In the years the sensors have been up, real-time travel time measurements and road traffic analysis has been conducted on roads for links to the mainland and the M27/A27 east-west corridor. The collected traffic information, from the the 12 cross-city routes, is primarily used for strategic planning tasks, such as identifying problem areas, providing information on the capacity of existing roads and detecting changes in traffic patterns.

Portsmouth-cityThe power of the solution grows exponentially with the addition of other sensors, allowing BlipTrack to log individual journeys. This enables calculating average speed, exposing unintended routes with a significant number of cars, using small residential backstreets to escape rush-hour traffic and monitoring when drivers are spending significant amounts of time searching for a parking space. Ultimately, the data will help to improve the economic benefits through reduced commuting times and fuel consumption as well as reducing vehicular emissions.

Commenting on the solution, Portsmouth City Council Traffic Engineer Lee Gilbert said: “The majority of the Portsmouth residents are not aware how a system like this benefits them to date which is unfortunate, but the reality is that close monitoring of travel times allow engineers to review routes where slower than expected journey times are being achieved with improvements to be investigated. To date, the solution has been used mainly to the benefit of the traffic engineers in the city to: monitor live journey times during major road works and at large scale events such as “The Americas Cup”, “The Great South Run” or “Victorious Music Festival”, each attracting 50,000+ attendees. Provide traffic data for future planning meetings; view historical data, looking for quieter days/times on the network when planning major road works; and allow traffic engineers to provide clear and understandable data from a 'third party' company to the public, mitigating the risk of any public perceptions that altering of data has been made for more favourable options.

“We consider that the ease of extracting traffic data from the BLIP Systems dashboard is significant to see how time savings are achieved. Selecting the required route, date, time, etc. is very straightforward and simple to understand. Regarding cost savings, one of the biggest is made by triangulating three or more data units, allowing multiple routes to be monitored,” said Lee Gilbert, Traffic Engineer at Portsmouth City Council.

BlipTrack-Sensors“Portsmouth has really benefited from the accurate data from the BlipTrack installations with a much improved understanding of journey times within the city of Portsmouth. Sensors have been moved occasionally to provide data from new sites where data was previously unavailable. This flexibility has also enhanced the level of confidence that the client has in overall product capability. We have found the ease of installation and setup incredibly simple. On average, it has taken 15 minutes or less to install one unit. The solution is very cost effective and the filter engine provides a robust method for removing the outlier data sets caused by vehicles stopping at shops, for example. There is no doubt that the solution has provided our clients with a level of confidence in better understanding journey times and hence managing the expectations of the travelling public,” said Peter Eccleson, Managing Director at Smart CCTV.

Preben Andersen, Sales Manager at Blip Systems, said: ”We are very happy to be able to effectively gather and provide Portsmouth with reliable traffic data and to be able to optimize processes to benefit the city, its citizens, and ultimately, the environment.”

“In the very near future, following an 18mth monitoring program, we will be making the data available to city employees to use, which will allow us to collect information on how useful the BlipTrack journey time data is to a wider-range group. If positive, then full availability will be made to the public via a link through a new ‘QVision web site’ supplied by Smart CCTV Ltd, encompassing live streaming CCTV cameras, road works information, and more. This information will be on our website: www.livetrafficportsmouth.com,” ended Lee Gilbert, Traffic Engineer at Portsmouth City Council.

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

Ever-increasing international travel volume is having a serious 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 effectively.

Auckland - a growing hub for travel

Auckland Airport expects to host over 40 million passengers annually by the year 2044. To cope with this 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 real-time cohesive 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 quickly 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. This 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 better understand the performance 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 helps 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. This includes optimising traffic signal timings, and  combined with the recent opening of the new constructed Waterview connection, has resulted in significant travel time cuts to and from the airport from the CBD and West Auckland.

In addition, the real-time and historic 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 high risk of congestion. This enable 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.

This 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

“The BlipTrack solution is very cost effective, easy to install and commission, and the filter engine provides a robust method for removing the outlier data sets caused by vehicles stopping at shops, etc. BlipTrack has provided our clients with a level of confidence in better understanding journey times and hence managing the expectations of the travelling public.” Read more

Peter Eccleson

Managing Director of Smart Video & Sensing Ltd