For years, Thailand’s Department of Highway (DOH) faced the challenge of trying to ease traffic and reduce the massive gridlocks in Bangkok. The city is considered to have some of the worst traffic in the world, especially in mid-April during Thailand’s New Year, or Songkran, and during the international New Year. These holidays are notorious for causing major congestion, as millions leave the capital to celebrate with their families.
The DOH needed a solution to help provide live and detailed traffic information, so they turned to BlipTrack in 2015. BlipTrack mounted Bluetooth/WiFi sensors at strategic points along the city’s roads to measure and provide travel time and traffic flow information, and predict traffic build-up. The project has since seen so much success that Thailand’s DOH is now expanding the technology to cover additional roads in Bangkok.
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, becomes available.
The DOH specifically wanted to measure and compare travel times on the Intercity Motorway, The Bangkok Expressway and neighboring routes in Bangkok. The idea was to present real-time traffic information to road users via the department’s “Highway Traffic” mobile app and help them make informed decisions when planning their trip.
The mobile app, which provides information on travel times, fastest routes and other traffic information, is continuously updated in line with the actual behavior of road users. So by considering their route and the time they depart, motorists help keep the traffic moving. The collected data will ultimately produce economic benefits by reducing travel times, fuel consumption and vehicle emissions.
This was the first project ever in Thailand that implemented this kind of technology in the traffic field. 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 optimize the road network and reduce congestion.
According to Songrit Chayanan, Director of Samut Sakhon Highway District, “the solution has 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.”
Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.