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 a mistake 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 the 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.
“With BlipTrack we are able to measure the capacity and traffic flow in real-time in and around the area. This allows us to take proactive steps to initiate countermeasures if traffic build-up should occur. It also helps us to understand various traffic-related matters, enabling us to evaluate and validate existing traffic models and make informed decisions about where to prioritise expansions and optimisations to help the daily commute.”
Traffic Analyst at Trafik Stockholm
Sensors, utilising Bluetooth technology, help the city of Portsmouth to monitor the road conditions. The solution measures the impact of roadworks and events, and maximise the effectiveness of diversion routes, to ensure optimal network operation.
In Portsmouth, the only UK city with a population density higher than London, the number of cars on the roads is continually increasing, leading to higher congestion, reduced road accessibility, and increased environmental pollution.
To increase journey time transparency, reduce environmental impact and optimise traffic flow, Portsmouth City Council realised they needed to have a bird’s-eye view of the traffic network, as well as detailed, up-close analysis of ongoing issues. They also needed a way to act fast when things start to bottleneck.
To help manage the challenges of measuring the impact of incidents, roadworks and events, and predict traffic build-up, the city in 2013 followed in the footsteps of other traffic-congested cities including Bangkok, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Auckland and Zürich, by adopting the BlipTrack Bluetooth Technology.
The solution is primarily based on the movement of Bluetooth-enabled devices in cars. The vast majority of car owners own a smartphone, and almost all new cars are equipped with always-on Bluetooth, for easy connectivity to phones or other devices. BlipTrack has devised a way to utilise these Bluetooth signals, using sensors, to assist traffic management in measuring how traffic flows.
It provides the city with both real-time and historical traffic information, including detailed statistical information on the journey times, average speeds, dwell times, and movement patterns.
The real-time data has, over time, helped the city's traffic engineers to understand traffic flows better, improve planning and allow for rerouting of traffic to less-congested routes, preventing massive tailbacks before they form. It enables them to identify problem areas, by providing information on the capacity of existing roads and detecting changes in traffic patterns.
“Close monitoring of journey times allows us to review routes, where slower-than-expected journey times are being experienced, with improvements to be investigated,” says Lee Gilbert, Senior Traffic & Network Engineer at Portsmouth City Council.
Portsmouth is using the system both tactically and strategically. On a day-to-day basis, they use the system to monitor the actual road conditions in real time and manually control the phasing of traffic signals when congestion is identified. On a strategic level, they 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, and improve their traffic models.
“To give a couple of examples, the solution has been used to monitor live journey times during large-scale events, such as the America's Cup, The Great South Run or Victorious Music Festival, each attracting 50,000+ attendees. It also provides traffic data for future planning meetings, viewing historical data, looking for quieter days/times on the network when planning major roadworks, and allowing traffic engineers to provide clear and understandable data to the public,” continues Gilbert.
The power of the solution grows exponentially with the addition of other sensors, allowing the solution to log individual journeys. It 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 substantial amounts of time searching for a parking space.
“If we were unable able to view the journey times on the BlipTrack system, it would require individual monitoring to be undertaken, and operations would potentially be delayed. It has helped us to identify the best times to undertake roadworks, lessening the impact to motorists. One of the biggest cost savings is made by triangulating three or more data units, allowing multiple routes to be monitored. We consider that the ease of extracting traffic data from the system is significant to see how time savings are achieved,” says Gilbert.
“The most significant advantage of Bluetooth measurements is their ability to log real-time journey data and analyse consequences. For example, if a set of traffic lights fails, existing systems, such as loops in the road, ANPR cameras and probe-data services, can’t tell what the exact effect will be on surrounding roads. Monitoring Bluetooth signals can. It means that traffic controllers can instantly change the phasing of other traffic lights to ease any congestion that results,” says Christian Bugislaus Carstens, Marketing Manager for Veovo, BlipTrack.
Besides smoothing traffic flow in Portsmouth, the solution is employed in optimisation efforts at the Port of Dover and Clapham Junction Railway Station. Several UK airports are also reaping the benefits of the BlipTrack technology, including Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham and Edinburgh, and internationally it helps streamline passenger flow at Dublin, Amsterdam Schiphol and JFK in New York. In recent years, it has been rolled out at ski resorts, amusement parks and at events all over the world.
Portsmouth Highlights Benefits of its BlipTrack Bluetooth-based Traffic Measurement System.
It gives us insights on how individual journeys can differ from each other, especially when traffic lights are involved. The ability to measure travel times over long stretches of road, with various queue lengths, and only looking at specific route choices, is another strength of the BlipTrack solution.”
CEO of Trafik Stockholm
Sweden’s capital is alleviating congestion and giving road users more accurate, live traffic information. It all comes down to real-time and historical travel and flow data gathered directly from road users Bluetooth and Wi-Fi devices.
To increase travel time transparency, reduce environmental impact and optimise traffic flow, the city realised they needed to have a bird’s-eye view of the traffic network, as well as detailed, up-close analysis of ongoing issues. They also needed a way to act fast when things start to bottleneck.
After reviewing several systems, Traffic Stockholm found that the best solution for the job was the queue and travel time measurement technology from Veovo.
The solution is based on the movement of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi-enabled devices in cars. It provides the city with both real-time and historical traffic information, including detailed statistical information on the travel times, average speeds, dwell times, and movement patterns.
“We use the data for measuring the development in traffic density, speed and congestion,” says Otto Astrand, Traffic Analyst at Trafik Stockholm. “South of Stockholm, where we first installed the solution, will be a roadwork zone for many years ahead, when building the Stockholm Bypass. It will not only affect the main highway (E4) running through the work zone, but also the surrounding roads. With BlipTrack we are able to measure the capacity and traffic flow in real-time in and around the area. This allows us to take proactive steps to initiate countermeasures, if traffic build-up should occur. It also helps us to understand various traffic-related matters, such as the impact of traffic control, weather-related patterns, congestion patterns at roadworks, accidents and events, and driving behaviours and patterns. With this information, we can evaluate and validate existing traffic models and make informed decisions about where to prioritise expansions and optimisations to help the daily commute.”
Astrand continues, “Measuring travel times over longer distances in complex traffic environments is complicated to do with our traditional sensors, such as radar and microwave detectors. This solution gives us insights on how much individual journeys can differ from each other, especially when traffic lights are involved. The ability to measure travel times over longer stretches of road, with various queue lengths, and only looking at specific route choices, is another strength of the solution.”
Crowd-sourcing and probe-data services from large, well-known international traffic data providers were unable to provide individual vehicle data over specific distances. Additionally, their licensing restrictions limited data retention and the applications for what their data could be used. A lack of transparency and auditability of those data sources rendered them unsuitable for this specific work.
Johanna Karlsson, CEO of Trafik Stockholm, says: "We are always trying new technologies for traffic monitoring and the Veovo solution complements our other sensors and data sources very well. The ability to measure travel times, monitor queues and perform origin/destination analysis convinced us to adopt the solution for Stockholm. The ability to detect and mitigate disruptive events offers significant economic benefits through reduced travel times and fuel consumption, as well as environmental benefits due to reduced CO2 emissions, and improved air quality.”
Otto Astrand explains: “We also use the data to display live travel times via Trafiken.nu, which is our traffic information hub, and on several VMS signs placed around the city. The travel times help road users to make informed decisions about their journey, both in real-time and for those planning their daily commute.”
The travel times are continuously updated, in line with the actual behaviour of road users, so, by considering their route and the time they depart, motorists themselves are helping to reduce bottlenecks and keep traffic moving.
Besides the benefits of real-time reporting, the empirical 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.
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. Managers are provided with an overview of the current situation and tendencies over time, to allow for road improvements and development where needed.
Stockholm joins a host of other major cities, including Bangkok in Thailand, Zurich in Switzerland, Aarhus and Copenhagen in Denmark, Portsmouth and Port of Dover in the UK and most of New Zealand, which use the solution to measure and optimise how road users travel and use the city´s roads.
Your Car Helps the City of Stockholm Get You Home Faster
Following the disastrous traffic congestion caused by unexpectedly high spectator numbers at the 2012 Royal New Zealand Air Force Air Show, organisers of the 2017 event knew they needed to avoid a repeat performance. Fortunately, BlipTrack technology was available to assist, ensuring far smooth traffic flow.
Air Show Traffic Flow Crisis Averted with BlipTrack Technology
Bangkok is expanding the BlipTrack queue and flow management to cover additional roads. The expansion will provide city engineers with travel times and congestion alerts, to ease traffic woes and provide drivers with real-time traffic information.
Thailand’s Department of Highway is so impressed with the traffic data, collected by their BlipTrack queue management solution that they are now expanding the technology to cover additional roads in Bangkok. The city is considered to have some of the worst traffic congestion in the world. Especially the Thailand New Year Holiday in mid-April also called Songkran and the international New Year holiday, are notorious for causing significant traffic gridlocks, as millions leave the capital to celebrate the holidays with their families.
Faced with the challenges of trying to ease traffic and reduce the massive gridlocks, the Department of Highway (DOH) needed a solution to help provide live and detailed traffic information. To help manage the challenges of measuring and delivering travel time and traffic flow data, and predict traffic build-up, the BlipTrack solution was chosen in 2015.
“The Department of Highway (DOH) wanted to measure and compare travel times on the Intercity Motorway, The Bangkok Expressway and neighbouring routes in Bangkok. The idea was to present real-time traffic information to road users, via DOH´s “Thailand Highway Traffic” mobile app, during these major holiday periods, to help them make informed decisions, when planning their trip,” explains JJ Nutayakul, Managing Director at New Trend Development Co., Ltd.
The mobile app, which provides information on travel times, fastest routes and other traffic information, is continually updated, in line with the actual behaviour of road users. So, by considering their journey and the time they depart, the motorists themselves are helping to keep the traffic moving. The BlipTrack data will ultimately help to improve the economic benefits through reduced travel times, fuel consumption and vehicle emissions.
“This is the first project ever in Thailand, where this kind of technology, in the traffic field, has been implemented and it has shown great results. The client, the Department of Highway, is very pleased with how fast the installation has been, the ease of configuration and the hardware reliability.” continues JJ Nutayakul, Managing Director at New Trend Development Co., Ltd.
"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,” says Songrit Chayanan, Director of Samut Sakhon Highway District.
"The solution works by placing BlipTrack sensors at strategic points along the roads. The sensors, covering roughly a 600 km section of highway in and around Bangkok, detect Bluetooth or Wi-Fi devices, found in mobile phones and in-car audio and communication systems. By re-identifying the devices 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, Marketing Manager for BlipTrack at Veovo. Systems.
“The solution gives more accurate travel time data compared to spot speed data collected from radar and ANPR cameras. Furthermore, the origin/destination data is used by city engineers to gain an in-depth insight into the understanding of traffic flows and the development of traffic jams, in order to optimise the road network and reduce congestion”, ends JJ Nutayakul, Managing Director at New Trend Development Co., Ltd.
Besides Bangkok, BlipTrack is also implemented in Zürich (Switzerland), the north island of New Zealand, Portsmouth and Port of Dover (UK), Aarhus (Denmark) and Stockholm (Sweden). The solution is also implemented in optimisation efforts in 30 international airports, including Amsterdam, New York, Milano, Copenhagen, Manchester and Geneva. In recent years, the technology has been rolled out in train stations in the Netherlands and UK, ski resorts in the US, amusement parks in Denmark and UK, and at events all over the world.
Bangkok Expands BlipTrack Bluetooth Solution to Ease Traffic
“BlipTrack helps 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.
New Trend Development Co., Ltd. was established in 2006 with the goal to be the top supplier within the Road safety equipment and Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) field in Thailand.
New Trend Development
In the city of Aarhus, Denmark, road users are now reaping the fruits of Bluetooth monitoring, with shorter, more stable travel times, as well as benefiting from digital signs that help them make informed decisions.
If you drive around Aarhus with a built-in/switched on Bluetooth device, you will automatically be helping your fellow motorists to enjoy faster and less congested journeys. Aarhus Municipality, the second largest city in Denmark, has been using intelligent sensors that detect motorists’ mobile devices for several years. The data collected is used to gain an in-depth insight into and an understanding of traffic flows and the development of traffic jams, to optimise the road network and reduce congestion.
Travel time savings and shorter queues
The municipality can demonstrate significant travel time savings as a result of a host of new initiatives and optimisations, using data from the small, Bluetooth-detecting sensors. A striking case in point:
- After the expansion of two new turning lanes and optimisation of the traffic lights at the Skanderborgvej/Ringvej Syd intersection, a travel time saving of a massive 81 hours a day has been measured!. This travel time saving has been calculated solely on motorists travelling through the intersection during rush hour periods – morning and evening – and the total saving for the entire day is undoubtedly higher.
- At the heavily trafficked Viborgvej/Runevej/Bredskiftevej intersection, the sensors have measured an average time saving, heading out of town, as much as 31% between 3 pm and 5 pm. Travel time has also become far more stable. Where, on some days, it would take motorists around 6 minutes, the travel time is now more constant at around 2 to 2½ minutes, regardless of the time of day. It gives commuters far greater predictability.
- With the introduction of a new left turn filter arrow from Søren Frichs Vej onto the ring road (Ringgaden), sensors have been able to detect a reduction in travel time of more than 50%.
“Previously, drivers could easily sit in a queue for 10–12 minutes to turn left onto Ringgaden. With the new left turn filter arrow, it takes two to four minutes during rush hour,” explains Asbjørn Halskov-Sørensen, project manager at Center for Byens Anvendelse, CBA (the Centre for City Use).
Informative traffic signs work as intended
Last year, Aarhus Municipality also erected ten variable message signs on the stretches affected by light rail work, primarily Kystvejen, Randersvej and Grenåvej.
The signs, which provide information on travel times, fastest routes and other traffic information in real time, are also driven by data from the sensors. The information displayed is continually updated, in step with the actual behaviour of road users. So, by considering their route and the time they set off, the motorists themselves are helping to keep the traffic moving.
A recently conducted survey shows that commuters appreciate this continuous information, which most feel makes for a more pleasant journey. Other feedback tells us that drivers become less stressed when they know in advance what to expect, traffic-wise.
The survey also shows that commuters trust the information on the signs and choose their route based on the data presented to them on their journey to and from work. Two signs out towards the E45 (state highway) reap particular praise from motorists, who find the information about the journey home especially useful.
Precise figures are crucial
“Being able to give people concrete figures – both to our politicians and to our road users – provides the basis for a far more objective and balanced debate on the things we do on the roads,” says Asbjørn Halskov-Sørensen. “It is important for us to be able to document the facts when residents and the business community address themselves to us, or further up the system because they are experiencing long travel times/queues on various stretches. These experiences are often subjective, and travel times, therefore, tend to feel longer than they are.”
“The technology works by the 200 or so sensors, which are set up in and around Aarhus, detecting when a hands-free phone, mobile phone or another open Bluetooth device drives past. This allows the BlipTrack solution to calculate travel times, congestion and traffic flow,” explains Christian Bugislaus Carstens, Marketing Manager for BlipTrack at Veovo. “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 Bluetooth device afterwards.”
“BlipTrack data is used for much more than just being able to measure the effect of signal optimisation and road work/construction projects, but this is an important part of its application and something from which we have benefited greatly. Ultimately, the data contributes to an improved economy and a better environment through reduced travel times and fuel consumption, and thus reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles,” says Asbjørn Halskov-Sørensen.
The future of traffic in Aarhus
“We are in the process of designing a travel time index to show how the travel time on the main approach roads and ring roads develops year by year, in the same way, that we already have an index for the development in traffic volume from year to year. We expect this to be a useful tool, enabling us to monitor and achieve the political goals set for travel times on our road network, as well as to take action at the spots where travel times have begun to increase beyond acceptable limits,” says Asbjørn Halskov-Sørensen. In addition, we are having BlipTrack software developed to monitor the travel times of the different segments and to raise the alarm if the travel time significantly exceeds the norm for that time and that day. We expect this to allow us to be far more on top of the situation on our roads and, for example, to be able to resolve any technical issues with traffic lights quickly.”
Road Users Reap the Benefits of BlipTrack Measurements
“With BlipTrack, we can discover errors and irregularities that we would not have a chance to see otherwise. In addition, it is extremely educational and easily accessible to study how the incidents of various kinds influence the road network.”
Project Manager at Aarhus Municipality
“The solution helps improve service levels for the municipality commuters. The real-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
In the canton of Zürich, BlipTrack sensors measure and analyse travel times for strategic planning-tasks. The collected data is used to provide in-depth insights about changes in traffic patterns, identify time-critical route sections and reveal the competitiveness of the transport means.
The metropolitan area of Zürich is experiencing both rapid growth and increasing traffic volumes. This development has led to a significant increase in both the public transportation sector, with more and more commuters, as well as the number of vehicles on the roads.
Faced with the challenges of optimising and improving the road infrastructure, the Office of Transport of the canton of Zürich needed a solution to help provide detailed traffic information.
In the 5-year project, over 80 sensors will measure real-time travel times and analyse road traffic on 50 main routes for about a month per year. The collected traffic information, which is examined and documented by DTV-Verkehrsconsult, is primarily used for strategic-planning tasks, such as identifying time-critical route sections, provide information about alternative routes that are not signalled, and detecting changes in traffic patterns. Also, by comparing travel times on roads shared with public transport, the competitiveness of transport means on particular relations is revealed. These results are also considered in regional traffic concepts.
The measured routes and results will be available later this week on http://maps.zh.ch/
"The main reason for installing the sensors is to gain data about travel times and to get an idea of how the quality in transport is developing. The development and knowledge of the travel times helps us to identify potential for improvements in our road network,” says Christian Ordon, project leader at the Office of Transport of the canton of Zürich.
“We conducted an independent field test in 2011 to investigate the options of using Bluetooth-technology in terms of traffic management. The results, especially in collecting travel times and turning ratios were convincing. Bluetooth-technology is the easiest way of collecting valid data for a travel time measurement,” says Thorsten Kathmann, project leader at DTV-Verkehrsconsult.
“The installation and commission of BlipTrack sensors is easy and user-friendly. All traffic information is presented in real-time and in selectable graphics, accordingly to the wishes of the user," says Remo Schiltknecht, project manager at Innolutions GmbH.
“We value the long-term cooperation with canton of Zurich and with all the parties involved in the project. It is a privilege to work with such dedicated and professional people. We look forward to be a part of Zürich´s ongoing plan to be one of Europe´s most progressive cities,” says Mads Bo Frederiksen, Sales Manager for BlipTrack at Veovo.
The Office of Transport is considering using the solution for permanent travel time measurements. It will enable the canton of Zürich to create an even better scheme of the daily commute and road network improvements. Also, the canton is considering using the data to provide drivers with real-time traffic information, such as driving times and alternative routes, which will ultimately help to improve the economic benefits through reduced travel times, fuel consumption and vehicle emissions.
Besides measuring and improving traffic in Switzerland, the BlipTrack solution is successfully employed in optimisation 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, Dublin, Milano, Barcelona, Auckland, Brussels, Oslo, Manchester, Copenhagen and Helsinki. In recent years, the solution has also been rolled out in ports in Dover and Aalborg, train stations in Holland, ski resorts in the US, amusement parks in Denmark, and at events all over the world.
Smart Traffic Solution Helps Alleviate Traffic Congestion in Switzerland
“Portsmouth has benefited from the accurate data from the BlipTrack installations with a much-improved understanding of journey times within the city of Portsmouth. 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 DTV-Verkehrsconsult GmbH is a consultant company founded in 2004 and based in Aachen, Germany. The company has grown to one of the market’s leading companies for editing and analyzing traffic data in Germany. Additionally, other areas, such as type approval, field tests, traffic planning and traffic safety have been established within the last years. DTV-Verkehrsconsult is a strong and reliable partner for ministries, federal authorities and other decision makers that deal with traffic-related issues.
“BlipTrack is an optimal solution to perform Origin and Destination studies in major traffic areas. The solution is extremely cost efficient compared to traditional technologies and outstanding in measuring travel times. BlipTracks´s user-friendly analytical tools provide us with a complete overview of the traffic situation”
Project Manager at Dynniq
“BlipTrack is the most innovative solution we deploy. It provides our customers all they need to know about how the streets and roads they are responsible for are operating.
Managing Director at Bandwidth Telecommunications Limited
How do you measure the success of events? Do events increase revenue? How many people are there in the city during a large-scale event? Where do they park? These are some of the questions that Aalborg City Business Association gets answered using crowd-sourced data.
The Aalborg City Business Association has installed BlipTrack Wi-Fi device-detecting sensors in pedestrian areas of the Danish city to track visitor behaviour. The solution is used to monitor real-time pedestrian flow; visitor dwell time and movement patterns—from the moment they enter an area until they leave, and everywhere in between.
The data provides Aalborg City Business Association with an in-depth understanding of the impact of large-scale events, such as the annual Christmas market, Black Friday and The Tall Ships Races. Also, the data is used by the municipality for urban development, to optimise the flow of cars and people. And finally, shopkeepers can understand retail browsing and purchase patterns to streamline future retail operation, such as tweaking opening hours and allocate staff resources by demand.
“The solution works by detecting Wi-Fi devices, such as mobile phones and tablets, in the proximity of a Bliptrack sensor. Each device has a unique MAC address which is assigned to the device during manufacturing. These MAC addresses do not link to any individual user data, thus personal information is not revealed. As pedestrians, cyclists or cars passes the sensors, travel times, dwell times, average speeds and movement patterns become available, both in real-time and historically", explains Christian Bugislaus Carstens, Marketing Manager for BlipTrack at Veovo.
“If we are not able to measure the impact of events, such as the Christmas market, which costs over 1 million DKK ($160,000 US) to arrange, then the event is not justifiable, and perhaps money could be better utilised elsewhere,” Flemming Tingbak, director of Aalborg City Business Association, said in a statement.
Aalborg City Business Association have also gathered other useful information during other events, such as at The Tall Ships Races. With visitors totalling 2.4 million, The Tall Ships Races constitute the most significant events in the history of Aalborg. Here the collected data showed that during the event, there were twice as many people in the city's shopping areas, which represents an increase that exceeds the Christmas shopping season. The data unfortunately also showed that there were many people present at times when the stores had closed. This information enables the Business Association to adjust opening hours when similar events are arranged.
"The data show that even when the municipality and sponsors spend a lot of money on these kind of events, the money comes back one way or another. It contributes to underpin retail, cafes and restaurants in the city, that needs to hire people," says Flemming Tingbak, director of Aalborg City Business Association.
In the case of the Aalborg City Business Association, seven sensors were mounted, but in the Aalborg municipality, around 75 sensors are placed. These sensors measure travel times and flow on the highway, port and airport.
In addition to measuring traffic in cities, ports, ski resorts, amusement parks and at events around the world, the solution is successfully employed in optimisation efforts in more than 25 international airports, including JFK in New York, Cincinnati, Amsterdam, Dubai, Dublin, Toronto, Milano, Barcelona, Auckland, Brussels, Oslo, Manchester, Copenhagen and Helsinki.
Shoppers Phones Help to Measure the Effect of Christmas Shopping
“The solution has helped us get a better understanding of the dynamic traffic system and provides quantifiable data to support the improvement measures to traffic flows. It allows us 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
“BlipTrack provides the Aalborg City Business Association with an in-depth understanding on how people move within the city and measures the economic impact of events. The data allow us to analyze, optimize and improve large-scale events”. Read more
Director of Aalborg City Business Association
BlipTrack provide our clients with an unparalleled range of traffic information. Using the same data, we can provided live travel times direct to signs and phones, identify incidents and delays through to understanding the strategic route choices, origin / destination and changing travel patterns. Read more
Associate at BECA
“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
Managing Director of Smart Video & Sensing Ltd
“BlipTrack offer accurate, robust traffic monitoring from the busiest highway to city streets, at very low cost and with no traffic disruption. We are seeing tremendous interest from provincial and city road agencies across Canada and in the US as they all seek to immediately better manage traffic throughout their road networks.”
CEO of G4Apps
“BlipTrack give us a unique opportunity to deliver new logistics solutions for the benefit of our customers”. Read more
Chief Technical Officer for the Port of Aalborg
Traveling in New Zealand will be more predictable thanks to Bluetooth sensors that collect and share live traffic information with drivers.
Throughout the construction of the Kapiti Expressway, traffic management has played a vital part in minimizing disruption for motorists. New sensor technology utilizes real-time information to help manage the daily commute.
A network of BlipTrack sensors, from Denmark-based information technology company BLIP Systems, have been installed by The New Zealand Transport Agency’s on roads around Auckland International Airport, Kãpiti, Tauranga and parts of the Bay of Plenty. The sensors record in real-time journey times and queue wait times from sites around the North Island of New Zealand.
This real-time traffic information is communicated directly back to motorists. The information is streamed live to a dedicated mobile website called DriveLive which advises people how long journeys are currently taking on selected key routes. In addition, variable message signs, placed along the highway, displays estimated travel time to destinations, enabling drivers to plan their travel around that information.
The New Zealand Transport Agency’s Bay of Plenty journey manager, Nigel D’Ath says the DriveLive initiative will help people to plan ahead and work out the best time to travel, and what time they are likely to arrive at their destination.
"Knowing how long a journey will take is important for people and businesses," he says. People have told us that being unable to predict journey times with certainty is one of their biggest frustrations, resulting in lost time and productivity. The DriveLive website will provide people with live information to help them make smarter travel choices and hopefully save time each day. Not only will travelers know what to expect, they will be able to share that information with others."
Mr D’Ath says the New Zealand Transport Agency and project consultants, Beca decided to roll out the initiative as there are a number of large road projects in the pipeline.
“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 management is all about keeping the community moving in a very safe manner, past the work sites. It gives safety for the motorists, pedestrians and cyclists as well as our work crews, whilst we cause minimum delays,” said Chris Harmer, Traffic Manager at Higgins.
The BlipTrack sensors also measure travel time savings and reliability improvements, such as in the one of the New Zealand Highway Agency biggest road building project, the Waikato Expressway. To measure the effectiveness of the new Expressway, sensors recorded traffic flows prior to its opening and after opening. Based on this large data set it was possible to demonstrate significant journey time savings totaling yearly savings of 7.6 million dollars to the New Zealand economy.
The solution works by detecting motorists driving with a Bluetooth or WiFi device, such as in hands-free systems and mobile phones. When a vehicle with an activated Bluetooth or WiFi device passes the sensors, its anonymous ID, also called a MAC address, is recorded, encrypted and time-stamped. By combining and analyzing the data collected by all sensors, an accurate picture about each road user, such as their travel times, dwell times and movement patterns are provided. The information can be used to inform and warn about queues and delays, identify problem areas, evaluate and calibrate traffic signals, provide information on the capacity of existing roads, and detect changes in traffic patterns.
The solution is also deployed at Auckland Airport to monitor the behavior of passengers, optimize operation and improve the passenger experience.
In addition to measure traffic in New Zealand, US, UK, Switzerland and Denmark, The solution is successfully employed in optimization efforts in ports in Denmark and UK, train stations in Holland, ski resorts in the US and Australia, amusement parks, and at events all over the world. In addition, the solution is installed in more than 25 international airports, including JFK, Amsterdam, Dubai, Dublin, Toronto, Milano, Barcelona, Auckland, Cincinnati, Brussels, Manchester, Copenhagen, Helsinki and Oslo.
BlipTrack Help Make Travel More Predictable
The city of Aarhus, Denmark has deployed 10 dynamic digital signs that are driven by motorist’s Bluetooth equipment. The signs provide instructions that include driving times and the fastest routes, which saves time and helps traffic flow smoothly.
In Aarhus, as in other large cities facing substantial challenges with traffic congestion, yet another means has been adopted to attempt to smooth the traffic flow and provide motorists with faster journeys. Ten dynamic signs, provided by ITS Teknik, featuring information such as driving times, alternative routes and weather conditions have been placed along the city's busiest roads. The content of the signs is updated on an ongoing basis as the actual characteristics of the traffic flow change. The motorists themselves, by contemplating the routes and points in time when they drive them, contribute to improving the level of service and helping the traffic move faster.
“The messages on the signs have been developed and adapted based on studies of commuters, and hence reflect information that the target group both demands and respects. The dynamic signs will be of benefit to the motorists, who will experience a higher level of service, and to the flow of traffic in general," says Claus Pedersen, Head of the Centre for City Use.
Motorists provide traffic data
The traffic data on the new information signs is based upon real-time inputs from 125 sensors that are placed on selected roads in Aarhus. These sensors detect motorists driving with a Bluetooth device, such as in hands-free systems and mobile phones. When a vehicle with an activated Bluetooth device passes the sensors, its anonymous ID, also called a MAC address, is recorded, encrypted and time-stamped. The data is then sent to a server where it is filtered and analysed.
By combining the data collected by all sensors, an accurate picture about each road user, such as their travel times, dwell times and movement patterns are provided. The information of the monitoring system are used to inform and warn city traffic engineers about queues and delays, identify problem areas, evaluate and calibrate traffic signals, provide information on the capacity of existing roads, and detect changes in traffic patterns.
BlipTrack Technology Eases Traffic in Major Danish City
Coral Sales Co. is a regional distributor for leading national manufacturing firms. Established in 1979, Coral Sales Company specializes in supplying high quality safety and maintenance products to the transportation industry in the Pacific Northwest. Coral Sales co. pride themselves in having a high level of product specific knowledge and understanding so they can best serve their customers who include State Departments of Transportation, Local County and City Governments and Contractors of all sizes.
Coral Sales Co.
COWI A/S is an international consulting group, specialising in engineering, environmental science and economics, based in Lyngby, Denmark. It has been involved in more than 50,000 projects in 175 countries. It has over 6,000 employees, including engineers, biologists, geologists, economists, surveyors, anthropologists, sociologists and architects.
Cowi ( Norway )
Innolutions ( Switzerland )
Dynniq is a dynamic, high-tech and innovative company offering integrated mobility and energy solutions and services internationally. 1,800 employees design, engineer, integrate and maintain technology solutions that enhance the flow of everyday life and lead the way to tomorrow.
Dynniq ( Sweden )
Planopor is a development and consultancy company associated with Viapor. An experienced and well known company for road safety and signalling in Portugal, with over 20 year experience in the market. Resource planning and development have always been the main focus in Planopor activities with special interest in environmental issues.
Planopor ( Portugal )
Beca is one of the largest employee-owned engineering and related consultancy services companies in the Asia-Pacific. Beca supplies engineering and related consultancy services to many markets including industrial, buildings, government, water, transport and power.
Beca ( New Zealand )
Bandwidth Telecommunications are an Irish owned and managed Systems Integration Company founded in 1996. The company consult on, design, install and maintain technology solutions for both private and public sector Clients. Their expertise lies in IP telecommunications, Connectivity and CCTV over IP. Bandwidth have an impressive customer base comprising of Public Sector clients, Corporate Clients and Small to medium sized clients.
Bandwidth Telecommunications ( Ireland )
ÍSMAR Entrepreneur company specializes in equipment for land surveying, laser technology and other high-tech equipment. ÍSMAR was founded in 1982 and has extensive experience in sales, servicing and maintenance of ITS and traffic technical material.
Ísmar ( Iceland )
Smart Video and Sensing Ltd is a privately held technology based value added re-seller of IP based CCTV, video analytics, video incident detection and laser scanning technologies into the Intelligent Transport Systems and high end security markets. Based near Portsmouth the company operates in the UK and Ireland.
Smart Video and Sensing Ltd has been delivering video analytic based solutions for high end security applications and road traffic management since 2006 to Highway Authorities, their prime contractors and large security integrators. Applications have included video incident detection in road tunnels, the protection of Embassy access and 3G traffic monitoring cameras.
Smart Video & Sensing Ltd
ATKI is a supplier and installer of traffic registration and traffic regulating equipment in Scandinavia.
Atki ( Denmark )
COWI A/S is an international consulting group, specialising in engineering, environmental science and economics, based in Lyngby, Denmark. It has been involved in more than 50,000 projects in 175 countries. It has over 6,000 employees, including engineers, biologists, geologists, economists, surveyors, anthropologists, sociologists and architects.
Cowi ( Denmark )
Beijing Advanced Vision Application Co.Ltd (AVA in short) is a Hi-tech company established in Beijing in 2008 . AVA specializes in providing megapixel cameras and advanced traffic products and solutions for the fields of security and ITS. AVA have been working on city traffic surveillance and control for many years and have good relations with local government and police in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai Pudong, Dalian, Suzhou etc.
Advanced Vision Application co Ltd ( China )
G4 Apps focuses on the reduction of energy used and emissions generated in transportation through the application of mobile technologies and services. The company provides solutions to drivers, fleets and traffic agencies, seeking to be a leader in each arena while also building distinctive functionality, accuracy and timeliness through combined technologies and services. G4 Apps delivers real time, operational grade data and advice to all stakeholders towards cost reduction, increased mobility and improved sustainability in reliable and safe manners.
Made4it, founded in 2004, brings together experts in data to Insight consulting with marketing and business intelligence building. Made4it provides key business insights to decision makers, helping them to make valuable marketing decisions by enhancing their business intelligence building.
Made4it ( Belgium )
Austraffic is an industry leader in traffic and transport studies. With over 30 years of experience in all states of Australia and New Zealand, Austraffic has the systems and expertise to deliver fit-for-purpose, quality traffic and transport data. The skills of Austraffic staff cross a wide range of disciplines, which enables them to understand and offer credible advice. Austraffic have traffic engineering and information technology specialists who can assist with design, analysis and presentation of surveys.
Austraffic ( Australia )
Kanton of Zurich
Portsmouth City Council
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.
BlipTrack Proves Useful to Drivers During Tunnel Closures
Portsmouth, on the third most heavily-populated island in the British Isles, like many other cities around the world is struggling with traffic congestion.This cost society billions annually in travel times and fuel consumption, and the environment in increasing CO2 emissions. So the traffic tormented city has turned to new technology from Danish BLIP Systems, a leading provider of wireless traffic management solutions, to fight the pile up of more and more cars in and around the city´s already congested roads. With the help of BLIP Systems´ UK partner Smart CCTV, Portsmouth City Council has placed small BlipTrack sensors on the three most often-congested roads for links to the mainland and the M27/A27 east-west corridor. The sensors measure journey times and speeds, and with this data in hand, the council will be able to warn drivers about queue on VMS displays, through mobile Apps and more. It also provides the city with valuable information about flow, which is useful for planning and optimising traffic.
The installation of the BlipTrack sensors covering the 12 cross-city routes is about 1/10 the cost of an ANPR ( Automatic Number Plate Recognition ) camera solution, ITS UK members were told at their autumn local government conference. Smart CCTV Managing Director Nick Hewitson told delegates: “BlipTrack catches upwards of 40% of vehicles, compared with 95% with ANPR. But this is statistically more than adequate for journey time information”.
Depending on driver feedback, the council is considering rolling out the system more widely, said Project Manager Lee Gilbert at the conference. The solution could also boost the city´s contribution to the Hampshire/Southampton/Portsmouth ROMANCE Traffic and Travel Information Service. Meanwhile Smart CCTV, which is working on several other local authority deployments, is working on an mobile App for drivers.
Portsmouth Cuts Journey Time with BlipTrack
The Ontario Ministry of Transportation ( MTO ) is, with the help of BLIP Systems´Canadian partner G4 Apps, using combined Bluetooth and Wi-Fi sensors, to verify travel time prediction algorithms. Each BlipTrack sensor, as the solution is called, covers the entire 6 to 8 lanes on one of Ontario´s busiest highways, the QEW ( Queen Elizabeth Way ), with close to 200.000 average vehicles per day. The sensors are mounted on posts at strategic points in the road network and detect wireless signals from passing cars, registering how long it takes to drive between locations. With this data MTO is able to detect changes in traffic patterns, better inform motorists and improve the capacity of existing roads.
Commenting on the installation Bob Burrows, CEO of G4Apps, says: “BLIP Systems offer accurate, robust traffic monitoring from the busiest highway to city streets, at very low cost and with no traffic disruption. We are seeing tremendous interest from provincial and city road agencies across Canada and in the US as they all seek to immediately better manage traffic throughout their road networks.”
BlipTrack Assist MTO On North Americas First Divided Freeway
Aarhus municipality uses anonymous data from drivers’ cell phones and GPS to assist them in preventing traffic jams. A drastic 20 percent cut in travel times has already been made.
Many mobile phones, GPSs and other electronic devices have built-in Bluetooth, so that they can communicate wirelessly. Aarhus municipality utilizes BLIP Systems’ technology as an important weapon in the fight against traffic jams.
By placing the small sensors in the road network, the road authorities can obtain traffic flow data in real time and proactively manage the road network to minimize delays and congestion.
The municipality started the project in 2011 and currently has nearly 40 sensors placed on the ring road, says project manager Michael Bloksgaard, at Traffic and Roads. He expects that when the BlipTrack solution is fully implemented by the end of the year, around 120 sensors will have been placed. He has no doubt that BlipTrack will be a great tool for the municipality when it comes to preventing congested roads.
“BlipTrack will be used to locate the areas where we need to optimize routes and identify which roads, motorists can benefit from driving instead,” says Michael Bloksgaard.
He says that they are currently working on making the measurements available for all road users, and that the data could be utilized in apps and online.
The municipality has already benefited from using the solution, and it has helped Traffic and Roads in optimizing out-of-sync intersections. In addition, the Road Administration has been able to record that travel times on the ring road has been reduced by up to 20 percent because of green waves. This leads not only to significant economic benefits for the municipality, through reduced travel times and fuel consumption, but also reduced CO2 emissions and improved air quality.
BlipTrack Assists Aarhus Municipality In Cutting 20 Percent Of Travel Times
As the debate over how to improve mobility across Denmark continues, Odense Council has announced plans to instal Bluetooth sensors for optimising traffic flow in and around the nation’s third largest city.
BlipTrack, as the system is called, will initially place sensors primarily along the motorway that encircles Odense, and will collect information about travel times and traffic flow.
The data collected will allow Odense Council to improve the capacity of already existing roads and detect changes in traffic patterns.
“In addition, traffic lights can be adjusted to optimise traffic flows and reduce travel time, which reduces fuel consumption and in the end, CO2 emissions,” BLIP wrote. “The public can eventually also benefit from the solution to receive information about incidents and congestion – and thereby plan whether to work at home, stay a little longer at work, or choose a different route to minimise travel time.”
Odense’s plan is precisely the kind of simple, local solution that is essential for reducing congestion around the country, according to the Federation of Danish Motorists (FDM).
“Councils can eliminate impediments with actions that are quick to implement and relatively low-cost,” FDM wrote in a press release.
A recent study conducted by FDM pointed to traffic delays due to road work, uncoordinated traffic lights, and improper traffic rerouting as frequent causes of congestion. According to FDM, all of these issues can be easily improved at the individual council level.
“City councils can pick the low-hanging fruit – for example to improve the planning of road work using intelligent transport systems (ITS) and use the entire capacity of the road to ensure a reasonable flow of traffic,” Thomas Møller Thomsen, the director of FDM, said. “These are all simple and inexpensive actions that are obvious and which would reduce congestion on local roads.”
Odense Turns to BlipTrack to Fight Congestion
New Zealand Highway Agency (NZTA) is using BlipTrack Bluetooth-based vehicle detection to assess the impact of its biggest road building project as the various sections are completed. The large-scale deployment of a Bluetooth-based vehicle detection system is making substantial contributions to traffic data needs in progressing the new Waikato Expressway, and in the operation of state highways overall, in the country’s North Island. In the process, the scheme is also acting as a long-term test of the accuracy and reliability of the technology, leading to its adoption to provide cost-effective live monitoring and strategic data gathering for NZTA’s national network.
Waikato Expressway is one of seven major state highway improvements identified in 2009 to the NZ government as being essential to its economic prosperity. It forms a new section of the 2,047km state highway 1 (SH1), the country’s longest and most important road link which runs the length of both the main islands.
The decision to use Bluetooth detection for rapid assessment of journey time changes and route selection arose from the lengthy period needed for completion of the route and the NZTA’s desire not to delay assessments of the impact on traffic until after the 2020 completion date.
The challenge was to cost-effectively collect data that could be used in assessing the incremental benefits as each section opened.
In preparation for the project the agency reviewed conventional methods of measuring traffic – including floating vehicle data and automatic number plate recognition – but rejected these as not meeting its need to cost-effectively collect early, regular, location-specific data. It therefore decided to bring in Asia/Pacific regional engineering consultancy Beca, the local partner of Danish bluetooth sensor technology developer Blip Systems which manufacturers the BlipTrack traffic sensor.
The proposal was to expand an existing Bluetooth monitoring infrastructure already deployed in Auckland. This would generate the near real-time and cumulative vehicle data needed by automatically scanning in-vehicle Bluetooth-enabled devices passing detector locations. The battery-powered sensors have mains or solar power charging and use mobile phone communications, which facilitates short-term deployments.
Prior to the start of the construction project NZTA installed a sequence of detectors along the Expressway route and on other regional roads likely to be affected by the new road. This is enabling it to collect enough data to establish pre-construction base-line travel times and journey reliability, which can then be compared to post-construction data on each phase.
In addition the NZTA wanted to test the reliability of Bluetooth detection over long distances. As the agency already collects traffic flow data along SH1 using conventional methods, it can continuously compare the number of vehicles recorded by using Bluetooth technology with total traffic flows, to indicate how well the new sensors are performing. The results of one such comparison over a two-month period appear in table 1.
With certain sections of the expressway already completed, comparative data is beginning to emerge and already the expressway can be shown to be delivering worthwhile travel time savings such as on the 8km-long Te Rapa phase. Completed in 2012, this section diverts traffic from a busy business area north of Hamilton, the most populous community in the region and the country’s largest inland city. The results are benefiting 95% of the vehicles that use this part of the route.
The savings are based on the ‘before’ and ‘after’ journey times between two locations and was the country’s first such major assessment using Bluetooth sensors. Approximately three months before the new section opened, NZTA installed three sensors to measure traffic flows and after the opening it used the equipment to detect journey time changes and the relative proportions of traffic using the new and old routes. This revealed that the respective times were 25.25 minutes before the work started and 19.75 minutes once the Te Rapa phase was opened.
This was the country’s first major ‘before’ and ‘after’ assessment using Bluetooth and demonstrated mean journey time savings averaging 3.3 minutes by vehicles using the new expressway with those remaining on the old, but less congested, route benefiting from a two minute time saving.
The monitoring also revealed the split in routes taken by the 38,700 vehicles which on average use this section of road each day.
Following the opening of the new section just over half (19,900) of drivers opted to use the expressway each day while the remaining 18,800 remained on the old road. As NZTA calculates the cost of congestion to be NZ$21.7/hr the resulting savings to the NZ economy of those 3.3 and two minute savings combine to make a total of NZ$38,000/day.
In December 2013 the NZTA opened the 12.7km-long Ngaruawahia phase. The old route had the highest collective risk of any road in the country in the New Zealand Road Assessment Programme (KiwiRAP), with several fatal and serious crashes every year. In the first three weeks after opening the new section, the agency detected savings of between 3.25 and 5.0 minutes depending on direction and time of day.
By 2019, when the last of the seven stages is finished, the expressway will stretch for 102km and provide a continuous four-lane divided highway, reducing the length of the main SH1 route by 6km. There will be a further 12km of new or upgraded links and a new bridge over the Waikato River, to the north of Hamilton.
As construction has proceeded the NZTA has worked closely with local authorities along the route, to help it decide whether there is a need for any changes on the ‘bypassed’ sections of the old SH1 route, to provide further inducements to motorists to start using the new expressway. These could include speed limit reductions or traffic calming before or after an expressway interchange.
On the basis of its feasibility work and data gathering to date, however, the agency is confident that the Expressway will achieve its aims without such measures, as a safer and shorter route with a higher design speed. At an estimated cost of between NZ$1.5bn and NZ$2bn, it will improve safety and journey reliability through reducing congestion and travel times by a predicted 35 minutes over its full length.
BlipTrack sensors currently cover more than 600km of state highway network on the North Island of New Zealand.
BlipTrack Measurements Reveal Benefits of New Expressway
Our Danish partner Cowi have expanded the BlipTrack solution from 7 to 20 sensors in the municipality of Randers, with the objectives of:
- Estimate the proportion of traffic through the city. Especially in and around the bridge.
- Estimate the traffic distribution from accessing roads entering the city. ( Highway E45 and Randersbro Bridge )
- Estimate the choice of route for traffic to and from the port of Randers.
- Calulate travel times in the city center and all accessing roads.
Randers municipality initially installed BlipTrack sensors to improve public transportation via traffic signal optimization but have been so pleased with the solution that they have now expanded the system to cover most of the city of Randers.
Randers Municipality Extends BlipTrack Solution
In the Municipality of Koege, near Copenhagen in Denmark, traffic jams occur as they do everywhere else, much to the annoyance of drivers. However, the municipality has plans to do something about that with the assistance of the Bluetooth solution BlipTrack. With the help of the consultancy firm COWI A/S, the system has been developed to also be able to identify vehicular traffic. This got Koege Municipality interested.
“BlipTrack makes it possible to see how poorly a traffic signal handles the traffic – and to address the problems”, says civil engineer Thomas Meier from Koege Municipality.
The municipality has earmarked 1,3 million Euro to improve some of the junctions, where traffic jams create a lot of frustration for the drivers. And it is especially at three locations in Koege City, where morning and afternoon traffic create severe traffic jams.
The genius of BlipTrack is that it is simple, yet very effective. Two boxes are attached to posts at a traffic-congested stretch. The boxes detect the Bluetooth signals from the cars, registering how long it takes a car to drive from box A to box B. Bluetooth is a wireless data network, which is found in mobile phones and headsets. About 27 percent of all drivers have a Bluetooth device turned on and BlipTrack captures the data from these devices.
“Time is money. That is why we would like to make an effort to make the traffic flow more efficiently”, explains Thomas Meier.
Before the new system was invented, the Municipality had to hire local high school students to write down the number plates of passing cars at the congested roads. BlipTrack is significantly more efficient and registers traffic around the clock. Thomas Meier can monitor all the data on his computer and thus get an accurate picture of when and where traffic jams occur. This information makes it possible to proceed in the process of finding solutions to traffic problems.
A measurement of a stretch through Koege shows that it takes nearly twice as long to drive through the city during rush hour. It may be due to several factors. The most obvious is that the traffic lights are not set optimally, so that the light signal will turn red, while there is still a long queue and turn green, when there are only few cars. Another reason may be the lack of a turning lane despite the fact that many drivers need to make a turn.
Civil engineer Thomas Meier, Koege Municipality, has got great expectations for the effect of BlipTrack. He hopes that in the future, people will be able to click through to a website and see where there is currently a traffic jam, find an alternative route and thus with a little luck avoid ending up in long queues biting their nails.
BlipTrack Makes Road Traffic in Koege Run Smoother