On 12 and 13 November approximately 40 experts from 14 EU countries and Switzerland met at BASt in Bergisch Gladbach (Germany) to discuss the future challenges of Traffic Management Centres (TMCs). The Programme consisted of 15 presentations and sufficient time for discussion among the experts. A visit of the TMC in Leverkusen concluded this very successful workshop.
This article highlights the main outcomes of the workshop. The workshop report including the presentations will soon be available through the EU EIP website.
Traffic volume continues to increase, new technologies, such as autonomous vehicles, Car2X and further innovations in transport, continue to develop and the interfaces between the urban and interurban areas become more important. Traffic Management Centres have to deal with these challenges by implementing innovative systems and software and a closer cooperation with neighbouring traffic centres, other modes, as well as between the urban and interurban area. The aim of this workshop was to present the challenges of traffic management centres, existing and planned innovative systems and software as well as possible cooperation between traffic centres.
A number of presentations showed the implementation and potential of new technologies for TMCs. For example, North Rhein-Westphalia is currently using Floating Vehicle Data for Traffic Management for rerouting and dynamic lane management. In the Netherlands a Proof of Concept is carried out with Smart Cameras, which have shown an annual savings potential of 2700 staff hours for the Netherlands. However, this development does not lead to a staff reduction but to an increased efficiency, as it enables the road authority to achieve more with the same staff. C-ITS is already demonstrated in Hessia and plans exist for Greece (Egnatia Odos), also in the framework of C-ROADS Greece. The benefits are clear: traffic managers will have access to more information from the vehicles and at the same time will also have the possibility to communicate directly with the drivers/vehicles. In Belgium and the Netherlands information from road users is collected for Incident Management purposes. Through WAZE, information about broken-down vehicles, accidents and dangerous situations becomes available to the TMCs. This is an additional channel of information, supplementing other systems like AID, detection loops, cameras and FCD.
Many of the new technologies will result in more data, for example C-ITS. But the question is for example what type of data should be collected from the vehicles (Floating Vehicle Data) and for what purpose. Whatever the answer, data should be made accessible through open data platforms and National Access Points, in order to facilitate the re-use of data and to allow app builders to develop new applications and thus new services to end-users. This does not only apply to FVD, but to all kind of data (both real-time and historical), such as traffic light signals, accident data, etc.
During the workshop a number of challenges were addressed, both in presentations and during the discussions. Technological developments go too fast compared to time needed for tendering and installation of ITS. New ways have to be found on how to deal with these fast-changing technologies. TMCs also have to think about how to deal with the ever-increasing amount of data that is becoming available to them. What data is needed, and how can it be used? Which data must be stored, and how should it be stored? The new ITS systems and the associated data coming with it, will require different processes and different qualifications of the staff working at the TMCs.
With respect to incident management it was noted that none of the participants in the workshop has much experience with how to deal with the salvage of the various types of electric vehicles and trucks with different kinds of (automatic) gearboxes. Exchange of best practices would be considered very useful. It is also believed that closer cooperation with vehicle manufacturers will have potential for further advances of TMC automation.
Furthermore, the question was raised who will be responsible for the routing of autonomous vehicles? Is it the service provider or is this the responsibility of the road authorities (i.e. the Traffic Management Centres)? And what are the possibilities for the drivers to influence the rerouting?
Changing role of TMC?
Public and private actors in the Traffic Management and Traffic Information domain should trust each other and it should be clear that all parties should benefit from cooperation. If not, there is no business case for this public/private cooperation in TM2.0. Furthermore, it can be noted that TM2.0 is not only for real-time rerouting, but also can be applied in relation to Mobility as a Service (MaaS). It can be concluded that the role of TMCs will remain, since traffic management will be needed to keep the traffic system working. However, the tools for traffic management, and the interaction with other parties will change.