The I-95 Corridor Coalition Improves Insights with the Addition of Real-time Traffic Information
The I-95 Corridor Coalition is an alliance of transportation agencies, toll authorities, and related organizations, including public safety, from the State of Maine to the State of Florida, with affiliate members in Canada. Collectively, the coalition manages more than 40,000 miles of highways and major roadways in 16 states and Washington D.C. The coalition made the announcement this week at the Transportation Research Board meeting in Washington, D.C. that they have selected TomTom’s real-time traffic feeds to help them understand real-time conditions and to ease congestion in one of the more heavily traveled regions in the world.
TomTom is much more than just a navigation device manufacturer these days, with the real-time traffic data service an area of considerable increasing revenue. The investment in this service started in 2007 and has been growing annually, largely because this real-time data is a differentiator for all of their other lines of business, including in-car navigation systems, fleet services, and their consumer products. The data feeds for this traffic service include all of their devices, which become “probes” to relay conditions back, as well as the aggregation of traffic camera data, publicly available traffic data sources, as well as alliances with the three top smartphone manufacturers so that they get in-vehicle data from a myriad of sources.
TomTom receives data from more than 400 million probes globally that are sensing traffic speeds and patterns. This data is processed and checked with algorithms as part of a data fusion effort that weeds out feeds from devices to recognize that the measurements are on the road and in a vehicle as opposed to an airplane or in the pocket of someone walking or bicycling. All traffic data going back to 2007 is aggregated in the system along with measurements of flow on time of day and day of week, and this data is compared to current readings to provide a high level of confidence on the measurements. Probe data that is checked against the historical data and that makes a perfect match instantly becomes the data feed, if there isn’t a perfect match then the system may wait a few seconds to correlate with another measurement to ensure confidence.
The I-95 Corridor Coalition is a project that has been ongoing for many years. To date, they have aggregated traffic information, such as the traditional loops in the road, cameras, and radar, but these technologies are site specific and are expensive to install and maintain. Through the subscription to TomTom’s Traffic Flow service, they get more real-time data and expand their ability to monitor beyond highways to local roads and arterials.
“TomTom’s expertise in identifying where roads are congested, and pinpointing both the beginning and end of a traffic jam, will help coalition members to better manage traffic and ease congestion,” said George Schoener, executive director of the I-95 Corridor Coalition.
With these additional data feeds, the local managers can incorporate the feeds into their existing traffic management solutions or use the data within TomTom’s web-based tools.
“We provide analysis tools in addition to the real-time traffic data so that road authorities can look at historical measurements to find where the biggest bottlenecks are,” said Nick Cohn, Senior Business Developer of the Traffic Division at TomTom. “The data helps prioritize where they spend their limited budgets and also allows them to evaluate whether the changes they made have been effective.”
TomTom’s sensors are quite accurate thanks to the use of GPS information that has a 2.5 to 3 M margin of error. With this granularity of sensing, lane-specific traffic information is a capability that is coming. This more detailed data is something that becomes of increasing interest as we move toward assisted driving and autonomous vehicles.
“TomTom has developed a research alliance with both Bosch and Volkswagen to combine feeds from different vehicle sensors (radar, DSRC, LiDAR, etc.) that are increasingly part of connected vehicles to detect lane departure and near-range information,” said Cohn. “This effort is looking at how this more detailed data can be combined with longer-range data down the road to make the driving experience easier and safer.”
We’re increasingly moving toward knowing travel times prior to departure, with prediction getting better thanks to historical data and the increase in the number of probes.
“If you’re planning a long trip, and you know there is a jam, you can plan to route around it,” said Cohn. “We’re now incorporating weather information in feeds, which influences traffic traffic around the world, so that we can look at what’s coming in terms of rain, snow, ice or fog and can predict the impact that will have on travel times. This allows us to advise our users not to leave now, but to wait until the weather has passed.”
The University of Maryland, Center for Advanced Transportation Technology has been a collaborator with the I-95 Coalition to help make broader sense of traffic beyond each individual state or region’s traffic control centers. The Vehicle Probe Project has been their ongoing effort to add vehicle probe data to the metrics for a greater integrated understanding of traffic across all the states, and it the program under which TomTom’s Traffic Flow was chosen. The consistent picture of the whole network will allow local managers to immediately see cause and effect, and will help inform their utilization of their local networks to alleviate congestion on the corridor as a whole.
View the video below for more on TomTom’s traffic solutions: