dossier

Dashboard keeps cities clean and livable

17 February 2016 • 3 min reading time

Dozens of cameras measure which traffic is moving where in the city, divided into the categories passenger cars, delivery vans, and lorries. This system gives an overview of which commercial transport is active in which sector, and the impact that all of this has on air quality. The city dashboard can do all of these things. This dashboard provides managers with an overview of how to keep the city clean and liveable.

TNO is working with the municipality of Rotterdam to put the city dashboard into everyday use. Cities often lack insight into the logistical streams that operate in and around their boundaries and this makes it difficult to take appropriate measures. The city dashboard displays relevant information about mobility, logistics, and air quality in real time, in one web environment. RDW and the Dutch Chamber of Commerce This system displays details such as where delivery vans are currently driving, light and heavy lorry traffic, and the intensity and average speed at which vehicles are driving. By combining the information provided by the cameras with information from the RDW (Netherlands Vehicle Authority) and the Dutch Chamber of Commerce you can see at which times what traffic from what types of companies are driving in the city. This information is invaluable, for example, for assessing the actual effects of the enforcement of an environmental zone.

The latest technology to connect data

‘TNO uses the latest technologies and methods for the city dashboard and connects different types of available data,’ explains traffic engineer Erica de Feijter from TNO. ‘Because we connect the data in a smarter way, the municipality is given relevant information that can be used to develop appropriate policies. You want to regulate traffic in a way that improves traffic flow and air quality. The dashboard offers the municipality new insights to help them develop a cleaner city.’

The dashboard offers the municipality new insights to help them develop a cleaner city

Real time

The dashboard receives information provided by the cameras that TNO had positioned at important locations in the city. Yet, a great deal of other data can be added from sensors, vehicle detection loops, traffic lights, data provided by smart cars or lorries through wireless communication, and the actual and forecasted weather. TNO has developed algorithms, calculating models, and methods to connect, update, and make all this data available in real time. This creates a real-time overview of traffic flow, congestion, noise pollution, and emissions. This data is then presented clearly on a screen. This enables policy makers to create effective and relevant policies for target groups such as light goods vehicle traffic. 

Giving insight into the effects of environmental zones

The results of these measurements and their integration into the city dashboard is important to the municipality in their assessment of the environmental zone. These environmental zones were introduced in 2007 in order to keep lorries out of the city centre. As this measure proved insufficient for bringing air quality to an acceptable level, this zone was extended as of 1 January 2016 to include old-model delivery vans and passenger cars. TNO will be taking measurements again in summer 2016 to provide a clear analysis of the effects of this new measure.

It's all about air quality

According to De Feijter, ‘Translating the information in the city dashboard into controlling air quality is essential. The purpose of the city dashboard is, after all, to create a clean and liveable city. Because the city dashboard combines so many types of data, it is a great tool for assessing the effects of environmental regulations on traffic, noise pollution, and emissions. The dashboard will also enable the municipality of Rotterdam to monitor and evaluate the effects of the large-scale renovation of the Maastunnel which starts in summer 2017.

Rotterdam: an emission-free city centre in 2020

City planner Richard van der Wulp from the municipality of Rotterdam adds to this: ‘Rotterdam, TNO, and six transportation companies from the region have set an ambitious goal for the transportation industry, called Green Deal 010 Zero Emissie Stadslogistiek (an initiative in which the partners work on ways to improve urban air quality). It is our goal to achieve emission-free logistics in the centre of Rotterdam by 2020. We have identified four "tracks" on our "roadmap": technology, logistics, behaviour, and laws and regulations. The result of the track "behaviour" will provide greater insight into traffic and transport.’

The result of the track "behaviour" will provide greater insight into traffic and transport

Contributions by different parties

Van der Wulp continues, ‘The city dashboard that TNO has developed together with the municipality of Rotterdam gives us a clear overview of the logistics in the urban areas in an accessible manner. It will allow us to see which types of vehicles are transporting goods at what time and at which locations. This tool makes it possible to connect and update traffic data in real time, which enables the municipality to approach certain sectors in transport, purchasing, and manufacturing to work together to intelligently manage mobility and logistics. In this way, all parties can make a contribution to achieving the goals set by the municipality to reduce emissions to an absolute minimum.’

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