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Is smart mobility the future for our traffic issues? Iv-Infra Innovation Traffic management

Improving continuity

“The bridge operator and I were sitting together in his control cabin in Oude Wetering at the bridge over the Ringvaart when suddenly a bus driver got out and asked: what’s going on? These days, I’m always able to continue, the bridge never seems to be open anymore.” In 2018, as part of the so-called 'Blue Wave' project, around 30 bridges in North Holland were linked to a smart mobility application that would improve road and waterway continuity. This includes the bridge in Oude Wetering. Smart mobility; is this really the future for our traffic issues? According to Bertjan de Boer, Senior Traffic Engineering Specialist at Iv-Infra, the technology certainly has a lot of potential, if applied properly.

A combination of technology and usage

It’s not just the technology that is important, but rather what you do with the new opportunities that smart mobility presents for users: how can traffic be made safer? What’s the best way to reach my destination? How can I achieve my goal with less inconvenience (air and noise)? Only when these goals are achieved does smart mobility provide added value - for the user, the developer, the service provider and for the road administrator.

The Blue Wave

The Province of North Holland is currently working with other waterway/road to create a blue wave which will control and improve road and waterway traffic flow. The blue wave is to be created through smart mobility technology. Currently, 70 of the 130 bridges are already operational. The question now is: does this technology actually function efficiently in practice? Are all the settings correct? Is the result as intended? Has the flow of traffic really improved, and is maritime navigation better served? This is what Iv-Infra is currently investigating.

A special bridge management system

A special bridge management system has been developed to optimally coordinate road and waterway traffic. This is an advice tool that tells the bridge operator whether it would be wise to open the bridge now or to wait a little longer. The tool considers registered vessels, road congestion, any emergency services and public transport. If a bus is running on time, the bridge can be opened as usual. But if the bus is already running late, the tool will allow the bus to cross the bridge before advice is given to open. This is how smart mobility is used to support a better balance between various interests. The bridge operator will, however, always remain in control. He or she will ultimately decide whether to open or close the bridge. The bridge management system is purely a means that helps them to operate the bridges more efficiently.

Gaining practical insight

To gain insight into practical usage and to identify any bottlenecks in the system, Iv-Infra has set up a service centre together with partner MAPtm. It’s a kind of helpdesk that bridge operators, waterway users and waterway administrators can contact should they suspect something is not functioning optimally. For example, the bridge management system may indicate that a delayed bus arrives at 1 pm, but maybe the bus doesn’t arrive at all. This could be a configuration error. It could also be the case that the bridge management system calculates with a certain sailing speed, but in practice, it appears that it doesn’t correspond with reality. These are examples of bottlenecks that we can clarify with the service centre and address.

Win-win by way of clustering

Two new apps have been developed further to provide skippers with current information of bridge openings on their route and to coordinate the bridge openings with waterway traffic: RiverGuide Recreant (recreational) and RiverGuide Binnenvaart (inland shipping). These apps have been developed by Teqplay. Iv-Infra manages the sailing schedules for marine navigation. We hereby try to offer as many routes as possible for commercial and recreational shipping to be able to serve skippers and captains as well as possible.
The app is a fine example of the opportunities offered to users by smart mobility. It’s a new development that has never been applied before but is of great value to skippers, captains and bridge operators as they are now able to access information that was previously unavailable. The app ensures that skippers are better served and can plan their journeys more effectively. For example, they can register their presence with bridges via the app which is much better than the traditional VHF maritime mobile band. Skippers and captains have direct insight into the bridges encountered along their route, even prior to departure and including the opening moments. They are then able to adjust their timing accordingly to ensure a consecutive passage of all bridges. This is how the app encourages the clustering of navigation, meaning that the opening of bridges occurs less often, resulting in less inconvenience for road traffic.

The extensive article can be found in our magazine.                                                                                                                               

Would you like to know more about smart mobility? Herbert will be pleased to share ideas with you about this matter. Contact him via 088 943 3200 or send an email.
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