in the spotlight

Smart system should reduce traffic congestion in Amsterdam

25 February 2016 • 3 min reading time

It was the largest mobility test ever conducted. Last year up to 30,000 people took part in the Praktijkproef Amsterdam (Amsterdam Test Drive). Having been given an innovative Superroute app to advise them on what – right at that moment – was the quickest way to reach their destination, they set out. And the result? ‘Half of the drivers reached their destination more quickly.’

‘Initially we were hoping for 15,000 participants, but such was the interest that we ended up with twice that number’, explains project manager Marco Duijnisveld of TNO. ‘Rijkswaterstaat will shortly be publishing the definitive test results. Ultimately our app should result in a shorter journey time for the driver and less congestion in and around the city by a more efficient distribution of traffic. The first data, based on an evaluation of a number of journeys, reveals that almost half of all our participants reached their destinations more quickly by following the travelling advice on the app.’

UNIQUE: INDIVIDUALLY-TAILORED ADVICE

The Superroute app provides drivers with an accurate prediction of their journey time, before and during the journey. For example, if a couple of kilometres ahead there has been an accident, the system will calculate in real time the best alternative route, and present this on the screen. What is unique about this system is that road users on the same journey may be offered different alternative routes rather than advised to all turn off at the next exit, thereby avoiding creating a new bottleneck. Instead, this smart routing system immediately calculates a way of distributing the traffic over different routes and each driver receives individually tailored advice.

COOPERATION BETWEEN MANY PARTIES

The test is a collaborative effort between the Municipality of Amsterdam, the metropolitan region, the Province of Noord-Holland, Rijkswaterstaat, TNO, ARS Traffic & Transport Technology, and PrimeData, a company specialized in big data, in which TNO holds a majority interest. TNO’s contribution was to deploy expertise in the field of sensor technology, mobility, big data, and human behaviour. As Duijnisveld explains: ‘The technology we have developed includes algorithms to predict journey times. This technology has even earned us the prestigious Greenshields Prize from the Transportation Research Board. In addition, we have developed smart routing. This algorithm balances individual needs with the optimization of the overall traffic flow.’

DISTRIBUTION OF TRAFFIC FLOWS DURING EVENTS

‘We do the same thing when there are big events taking place, such as concerts at the ArenA or Ziggodome, the King’s Birthday, or SAIL Amsterdam. We can see in real time the volume of traffic and advise individual drivers on where to park. By doing this we organize the optimal distribution of traffic flow.’ 

 THE TOPPERS AND QUEEN

1SAIL is one of the biggest events in the world and was visited last year by 2.3 million people over a period of five days. The app and the mobility website linked to it were accessed by half a million people and resulted in around 100,000 journeys and parking options being recommended on an individual basis and ultimately over 10,000 app users. Once an app user has parked the screen will then show the route to the final destination by foot and the expected number of minutes this walk will take. Duijnisveld again: ‘Apart from the SAIL event, this app has shown its usefulness for concerts by the Toppers, Queen, Paul Simon & Sting, Paul McCartney, and The Who.

EXPORT PRODUCT

The fact that so many people have used the app means that we are on the right track, continues Duijnisveld. ‘There is huge interest from abroad. We have already made contacts in China where quickly growing cities need a lot of roads around them. People there are interested in smart solutions instead of just laying more tarmac. This technology points traffic literally and metaphorically in the right direction. Our country has developed a powerful, innovative export to conquer the world.’

Big data

The basis for the travel information service developed by TNO in collaboration with ARS and PrimeData is the combination and greater sophistication of, and real-time accessibility to, various sources of data. This enables us to make short-term and longer-term predictions by means of loops in the road, portals above the road, cameras, traffic regulation systems, the National Data Warehouse for Traffic Information (NDW), current weather reports and forecasts, historical traffic data, and floating car data (which provides data on, for example, the location and speed of a vehicle). All this data is collated in the simulations created by TNO which constantly provide individual drivers with the best route based on their current position. The communication via the user’s Smartphone is via 3G, 4G, WiFi, or DAB.

Facts and figures

  • Two-year project (2014-2015)
  • Collaboration between government bodies, private enterprise, and TNO
  • Deployment of over 20 TNO experts
  • Almost 30,000 participants
  • Superroute app used during one million journeys
  • Deployed for ten big events
  • Potential export product for BV Nederland
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