Dutch City Region of Eindhoven Works with IBM and NXP to Improve Traffic Flow and Road Safety


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Merging Mobile Real-Time Sensor Data from Vehicles and Road Traffic Data with IBM MobileFirst Enables Officials to Monitor and Act on Unexpected Road Conditions

EINDHOVEN, The Netherlands--Feb. 21, 2013: IBM and NXP Semiconductors N.V. today announced the first results of a smarter traffic pilot, conducted in the Dutch city of Eindhoven. The trial demonstrates how the connected car automatically shares braking, acceleration and location data that can be analyzed by the central traffic authority to identify and resolve road network issues.

"The trial successfully showed that anonymous information from vehicles can be analyzed by local traffic authorities to resolve road network issues faster, reduce congestion and improve traffic flow," said Ab Oosting, European Union project manager for the Collaborative Region of Eindhoven SRE. "By receiving the information in real time, road authorities can utilize mobile technologies to immediately deploy emergency response teams and road workers to resolve issues. Traffic center staff can promptly respond and manage traffic flows away from accidents and dangerous traffic situations."

The city region of Eindhoven (SRE) is located at the hub of several international transportation routes, where relatively small incidents can have major consequences for the system as a whole. In 2011, approximately 30,000 people were killed in the European Union as a consequence of collisions in traffic. The European Commission recently adopted an ambitious Road Safety Programme, which aims to cut traffic deaths in Europe between 2011 and 2020 by 50 percent. Intelligent transport solutions (ITS) can help improve European road conditions and safety. The 12-month trial was designed to provide the regional government with insights to maintain roads, reduce traffic congestion and increase road safety.

The Ultimate Mobile Device: Connected Cars, Proactive Traffic Avoidance and Safety 
With greater connectivity, today's automobiles generate a vast amount of data that can be used to enhance the driving experience, while improving traffic condition and road safety. For example, with IBM MobileFirst, which combines the power of mobile and cloud-enabled technologies, the same sensors that alert drivers about low tire pressure or broken lights can also automatically provide insight into traffic patterns.

During the trial, IBM, NXP and its partners equipped 200 participating cars with a device containing the NXP telematics chip "ATOP" that gathers relevant data from the central communication system of the car (CAN-bus). Relevant sensor data -- that were indicators of potholes or icy roads--was collected in-vehicle and transmitted to the cloud-enabled IBM Smarter Traffic Center.

Using the power of IBM analytics, raw data from the vehicles highlighted 48,000 incidents over a period of six months, from 1.8 billion sensor signals. Incidents included heavy rain, black spots, switching on of hazard lights or fog. The disparate data from thousands of sensors was managed and analyzed through the IBM SmartCloud Enterprise service, making it possible to dynamically manage the needed computer capacity, which can vary dramatically depending on whether it is a peak traffic period or an unexpected event occurs.

This information enables road officials to act in near real-time on dangerous road conditions, accidents or growing traffic density. It also informs drivers in the vicinity of an incident through smartphone or built-in navigation device.

For example, a new speed is recommended to a driver based on current weather and road conditions via a mobile app through an in-vehicle navigation system or mobile device, or the location of the closest road assistance vehicle is identified. These aspects were successfully tested in the trial. In the future, a traffic command center could provide more personalized detours, routes and traffic information to a driver to better avoid congestion.

This pilot is one of several initiatives SRE has begun to improve mobility in the region. In an earlier six-month road pricing trial conducted by the city, IBM and NXP, advanced road pricing technology was successfully used to incentivize drivers to change their driving behavior,reduce road congestion and contribute to a greener environment. Seventy percent of drivers changed their behavior to avoid rush-hour travel when presented with the right incentives, demonstrating that road pricing systems can have a positive effect on driving habits and help alleviate traffic.

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