Gsm As the Source For Traffic Information
M van der Vlist, Goudappel Coffeng; B Rutten, Logica CMG; P de Wolff, Provincie Noord-Brabant, NL
The purpose of traffic management is to inform, induce and, if necessary, direct road
users towards a safer and more efficient use of the existing infrastructure while
safeguarding the quality of the environment of those living and working in the vicinity of
the road network. To achieve this the road manager needs information of the actual and
perhaps even the expected traffic situation on the road network. It is very cost
demanding to gather this information in a real time environment. Loop-detectors, traffic
eyes, image processing techniques, floating car data, traffic lights information et cetera
are currently needed to get a complete, correct and consistent view of the actual traffic
However, nowadays it is possible to make use of the properties of the GSM network.
This provides insight into the availability and location of mobile telephones on the road
network. The anonymous information is aggregated and enhanced to provide historic
and real-time information on journey times and speeds. Use is made of the existing GSM
infrastructure and the information is thus directly available. Extra hardware along the
roads or in road vehicles is not necessary. The GSM network goes beyond the traffic
manager road network.
The showcase in Noord-Brabant
The first user in the Netherlands for this Mobile Traffic Service (MTS) is the province
of Noord-Brabant. The system is in operation since August 2003. Every month a
database with historic data concerning the traffic situation on a number of roads in the
province is delivered. The goal of this showcase was to learn about the availability and
quality of the data. A demonstration of a real-time website has proven that it is possible
to produce real-time information. Scalability of the system is good, so it is not difficult
to widen the area where traffic information is needed. Specific attention is paid to the
applicability of the information.
Quality of the information
A validation study is performed to test the quality and availability of the information. To
do this, a number of alternative measurement systems have been used as a reference:
loop detectors, probe vehicles and licence plate recognition. The quality proofed to be
good in almost all cases: for highways, rural and interurban roads. Only in the inner city
information needs to be improved. A number of suggestions for improvement are
currently under study. The results were sufficient for the province of Noord-Brabant to
lengthen the test.
Applicability of the information
The information can be used for all types of activities in traffic and transport. For
modelling the extra source of information, travel times on the entire network, will give
opportunities to improve both the static as the dynamic traffic models. Using the
information during a longer period of time, the data can be used for monitoring
purposes. It offers extra information for ex-post evaluation of traffic management
measures and policies. For sustainable traffic management the complete information on
the actual situation opens ways to make a real improvement in network wide operational
management. And last-but-not-least, a new source of real time door-to-door travel time
information for car drivers has become available. For a number of applications a mix
with other data sources, e.g. loop-detectors, can improve the applications.
MTS is available and the information is usable. It will mean a step forward in area wide
operational traffic management and traffic information. MTS can be deployed in other
parts of the Netherlands and abroad.
Association for European Transport