How Bluetooth and WiFi Are Easing Bangkok’s Traffic

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.
 
BlipTraffic
 
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.

Phones Help Train Stations Give You a Better Travel Experience

The success of a train station, and its image, is heavily influenced by the ability to handle passenger flow smoothly and efficiently. Documentation of movement patterns is crucial for greater processing efficiency, increased revenue and improved traveler experience.

Rail passenger transport has grown considerably during the last decades. Parallel to the increase in traveler numbers, train stations have transformed into places where people travel and perform activities, such as working, shopping and holding meetings. The combination means that the space is shared by more and more people.

As capacity expansion is extremely expensive due to the dense urban environment in which these stations are situated, the need for valid passenger behavioral data to reduce bottlenecks and improve travelers comfort and safety is crucial.

More and more train stations, such as in The Netherlands and UK, have turned to BLIP Systems’ BlipTrack flow management solution, which includes sensors that work by detecting guests’ mobile devices. By re-identifying devices from multiple sensors, the travel times, wait times and movement patterns become available.

The sensors measure passenger behavior, such as time spent on platforms, shops and other station facilities, time spent by non-travelers, transfers to and from platforms, entrance / exit usage and much more. Management is provided with specific and accurate statistical information on the use of facilities and shops. With this data, the train stations are able to add value of existing facilities and/or new investments, optimize operations, and improve traveler/visitor flow.
 
Platform
 
Knowing how travelers move is key to maximizing revenue.
Providing management with a better understanding on where and how travelers move enables them to optimize opening hours, signage, shop locations, and general layout to improve the retail tenancy mix and more. By analyzing sales patterns, shop managers are provided with valuable information on how to improve and optimize services, such as resource allocation, product placement and variety as well as performance benchmarking, to ensure optimum revenue.

Early warnings reduce bottlenecks and improve traveler flow.
As the passenger flow is measured in real-time, the solution is also able to provide early warning when congestion occurs. This enables management to take proactive steps to initiate countermeasures, such as wayfinding on information screens or dispatching staffing to regulate the flow. The distribution of travelers ultimately helps reduce bottlenecks, and significantly increases the opportunity for a positive experience with more satisfied and recurring travelers as a result.

Combined data efficiently scales staffing with demand.
With today’s amount of passenger and train data available, such as ticketing machines, train schedules, flow and queue management, and more, train stations are now able to automatically allocate resources and define resource requirements with a much higher degree of accuracy. By combining train operation with known data about passengers, managers can in real-time, automatically and efficiently, scale staffing resources with demand at the right times. By adding future train schedules, expected growth, overall trends, events, holidays and more, traveler volumes can be accurately predicted for the days, weeks and months to come.

To understand and improve individual areas of operations, it is important that the traveler’s journey is seen as one process, rather than as a string of isolated events. The understanding that all individual events influence each other is key to unlocking potential gains.
 

Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.
 
 

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Your Mobile Phone Can Help Predict Traffic Jams

Traffic jams often come from shock waves that start when someone hits their brakes. The faster the traffic, the bigger the gaps, and the more abrupt the braking. The effect of breaking works its way back down through the traffic, and the many stops have a reinforcing negative effect on the queue, which ultimately causes even more congestion.

One way to reduce traffic shock waves, is to adjust speed limits to delay the onset of congestion and help recover from it. By adjusting speed limits to provide the optimum gap between cars, more cars can get through at any one point.

With the help of real-time traffic data, using Bluetooth/WiFi sensors and radars to measure travel time, speed, occupancy and flow, and looking at past traffic conditions, it is possible to predict congestion. This rapid detection allows road authorities to detect incidents and congestion in a matter of seconds and to take proactive steps to initiate countermeasures, such as adjusting speeds, changing traffic light settings or dispatching traffic regulators.

Multiyear evaluations of Variable Speed Limits (VSL) impact on traffic safety indicate a reduction in accident numbers by as much as 20% to 30% after VSL installation.

The solution works by placing sensors at strategic points along the road. The sensors detect Bluetooth or WiFi devices, found in mobile phones and in-car communication systems. By re-identifying the devices at multiple sensors, travel times, average speeds, dwell times and movement patterns can be measured and calculated.

The collected data can also be used to display queue warnings, travel times and route choices on digital road signs and mobile apps. This live information allows road users to make smarter travel choices and enjoy a stress-free and pleasant travel experience. As the information is continually updated in step with the actual behavior of road users, the motorists themselves are helping to keep the traffic moving.

Studies show that queue warnings reduce speeds and encourage drivers to drive in a uniform fashion, thus preventing congestion and accidents.

Real-time congestion and speed and flow monitoring also allow traffic managers to gain an in-depth insight into the understanding of traffic flows. They also help monitor the development of traffic jams, to proactively manage the road network on a holistic scale, build predictive traffic models and help the daily commute.

Compared to other technologies, such as camera and inductive loops, the combination of measurement with Bluetooth/WiFi and radar provides a more cost effective solution, that is less impacted by wear and tear and weather conditions. It provides more precise and detailed view of the current traffic flow and speed patterns for the individual lanes and road segments.

The main benefits of variable speed limits and displayed travel times, queue warnings and route choices include:

  1. Smoother traffic flows with less stop/starts

  2. More reliable travel times

  3. Fewer traffic collisions

  4. Lower fuel consumption and vehicle emissions

The Bluetooth/WiFi solution mentioned above, named BlipTrack, is successfully employed in optimization efforts in road traffic in Switzerland, Ireland, New Zealand, UK, USA, Canada, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. In addition, the solution is implemented in more than 25 international airports, including Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, JFK Airport in New York, Toronto Pearson, Dubai, El-Prat Airport in Barcelona, Dulles Airport in Washington, Copenhagen, Oslo, Malpensa and Linate Airports in Milano, Manchester, Brussels, Dublin, San Diego, Helsinki, Auckland, Montreal, Genève, Birmingham, Bristol, Cincinnati, Brussels South Charleroi, Keflavik, Billund and Aalborg. In recent years, the solution has also been rolled out in ports in Denmark and UK, train stations in Holland, ski resorts in USA, amusement parks, and at events all over the world.

Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.

The Technology of Making Airports More Efficient with Indoor Sensors

The documentation of passenger movement patterns with indoor sensors can help make airports more efficient and user-friendly. Having access to accurate statistical information on each passenger or flight as well as the understanding that all individual events (from the moment a passenger arrives at the airport to boarding on the plane and everything in between) influence each other are key to unlocking potential benefits.

A Danish technology provides a solution combining both data-collecting sensors and an intelligent analysis platform. The indoor sensors are placed at strategic points throughout the airport where they identify Bluetooth- and WiFi-enabled devices such as mobile phones or tablets that pass them via their unique Media Access Control (MAC) addresses.

The raw data collected from the sensors is encrypted and then transferred to a secure data warehouse in real-time. Combined with the appertaining analysis platform, the sensors provide detailed information on passenger travel times, wait times and process flow. The system is smart enough to identify passengers that go in the wrong direction or drop out at some point by checking if the mobile device is passing each sensor in the correct order.

Analyzing the data collected by indoor sensors at airports

The analysis platform is a web-based user interface with dashboard views and graph visualization, including interactive heat-and-flow maps. The platform not only analyzes data from the sensors, but also integrates and combines data from third-party sources, such as people counters, iBeacons, boarding pass readers or flight information.

 

 

 

The system is able to report live and historical information, providing a complete overview of the current situation and the possibility to extract data in any desired combination. It is also possible to design, implement and display real-time wait times (for example, in queues) to websites, mobile applications or public displays and to create automated incident alarms when predefines thresholds are exceeded.

Depending on what kind of day it is, the passenger appearance profiles can be generated accordingly. On a normal day of operation, historic show-up profiles and volumes of the scheduled flights are analyzed; on recurring holidays or events on a specific day or period, past holidays or time periods are analyzed and incorporated with an average growth rate for the present day departures; and then there is the possibility of manually overriding on days that are impossible to predict based on historic data, such as national holidays on various weekdays.

 

 

 

Privacy concerns about data-collecting sensors

Sensors that detect wireless signals and collect data often raise concerns about data security and the protection of personal data and privacy. The Danish technology protects the passenger’s privacy by using the MAC addresses – which in themselves contain no personal information – and encrypting them additionally.

Each device is assigned a one way hash code and only part of the hash code is transmitted, making it impossible to retrace hash codes back to real MAC addresses. Communications between the sensor and the server are encrypted using SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), a standard security technology.

Are you comfortable with the collection and analysis of non-personal data to provide a better organized airport and to improve your travel experience? Share your thoughts in the comment section.


Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.

Indoor Sensors to Help Cut Down Airport Wait Times

As air travel is continually on the rise and airports often have limited space to expand, the importance of greater efficiency for planning and optimizing the position of and processes at gates, outlets and services grows. The documentation of passenger movement patterns can help with that.

Maintaining a high operational performance while ensuring a premium passenger experience can be a difficult task. Most of the time, capacity planning is not taking unexpected events into account, such as changes in passenger appearances, check-in lane productivity or the number of open lanes.

A Danish technology provides a solution combining both data-collecting sensors and an intelligent analysis platform to automatically monitor queue and wait times and evaluate forecasts as well as passenger capacity. The indoor sensors collect non-personal data from passenger’s mobile phones and tablets.

Combined with the appertaining analysis platform, the sensors are able to provide executives and managerial staff with a wide range of sophisticated business intelligence and benefits. The result is real-time and historical information about the current operational status of processes, unexpected changes and the effects of both.

 

 

 

Managing the airport more efficiently with collected data from indoor sensors

This means that the airport managers cannot only forecast queue wait times in real-time, but also simulate consequences of possible changing production capacity, such as lane changes, flight delays or passengers arriving earlier or later.

The sensor solution provides potential for more efficient planning and allocation of resources and staff. Detecting congested areas for example allows the airport management to ultimately reduce processing times in security and customs lines by re-assigning personnel or opening/closing lanes.

Implementing sensors in all major airport processes (security, passport, immigration, transfer, arrival baggage claim and even the taxi rank) enables airports all over the world to monitor the quality and flow of their terminal processes as well as improve the resource planning – in real-time and in general.

Potential of indoor sensors for customer experience and retail areas

In retail areas, the documented information about passenger flow and dwelling time can be used to optimize signage and locations of shops as well as products within a shop, adjusting shop rents and in general understand purchasing patterns to unlock potential revenue.

The ability to forecast queue wait times in real-time helps reduce frustration among passengers by creating realistic travel time expectations and therefore improves the travelers’ experiences with the airport in general.

At CVG Cincinnati Airport for example – the first U.S. airport to implement the sensor technology – wait times have been reduced by nearly 4 and a half minutes, cutting one third of the average security queue time.

“Our customers have come to appreciate the quick accessibility to real-time information via our monitors and website, seeing that queue times are consistently well managed”, says Candace McGraw, CEO at Cincinnati Airport.

In addition to Cincinnati, JFK airport is also displaying wait times to reduce passenger frustration.

“We are probably reaching 19.5 million passengers this year in total. It is a big operation, which is why we are introducing innovations to enhance the operations of the building. This new system will help us manage and eliminate problem spots within the facility, and sharing the processing time with our travelers will provide them with peace of mind so they may continue to expect a pleasant travel experience. Additionally, data from travelers’ phones could eventually influence future airport design,” says Gert-Jan de Graaff, President and CEO of JFKIAT.

What would real-time wait information at the airport mean for your travel experience? Leave a comment.


Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.