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Digitally predicting traffic to create tomorrow’s thriving and sustainable societies

One of the century’s most important challenges

Traffic and mobility play a crucial role in helping societies thrive and tackle climate change, as well as impact citizens’ well-being, making solving mobility issues one of the century’s most important challenges.

Traffic congestion and lack of mobility have obvious negative economic and financial impacts on society. Yet, traffic networks are becoming more intensively used, which in some cases has made getting around in a city daunting and risks creating high levels of carbon dioxide emissions.

Informing policy through digitalisation

Digitalisation – with its emerging technologies, advanced calculations, visualisations and scenarios – helps us approach, research, interpret and analyse scenarios in ways that seemed impossible just a few years ago. New sources of qualitative and quantitative research, revealed by digitalisation, are now laying the groundwork and offering insights to not only mobility planners and infrastructure designers, but also policymakers and citizens.

This results in more informed policy proposals and decisions that improve traffic and mobility issues in urban areas and economic centres – a key step in achieving a city’s or region’s environmental, social inclusion and economic development targets.

Reducing traffic emissions in Belgium

The regional mobility networks in Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia are becoming more strained, making it increasingly essential to be able to move around in a low-emissions way. Moreover, the Brussels Capital Region is committed to being climate neutral by 2050, in accordance with the entire EU’s long-term climate strategy.

Here, digital innovations being developed at Sweco are a key tool, part of an integrated solution in its engineering and consultancy services. More specifically, Sweco experts are compiling digital data and implementing calculation methods to analyse design- and policy-related scenarios. This will in turn justify client decisions and policy proposals that aim to promote low-emissions traffic.

Clients in Brussels came to the conclusion that policy proposals needed to be backed up by data. It is impossible to know your starting point and where you’re heading if you don’t have any data. Like driving in a car without any dashboard. They needed the data to follow up successes and challenges of their actions.

–  Sam Van Mulders, Group Business Development Manager.

Testing new traffic routes in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is another example where Sweco is taking advantage of its traffic experts’ experience in mobility issues, traffic engineering design and traffic management. Their insights are helping to advise on municipal policy that distributes traffic in a more effective way and thereby create more attractive cities of the future.

Falco de Jong has been working on traffic models for more than twenty years, and believes it is the best way to predict and visualise traffic flows.

“Traffic models were created because we want to know in advance what effect various infrastructural adjustments will have on traffic and test whether a new design will work well,” he says.

In a project for the Hague, de Jong and his team collected data on the amount of traffic created by pedestrians, cyclists, cars, taxis, vans, trucks, scooters and public transport in a highly trafficked part of the city, taking into account additional factors such as different times of day, different parts of the week, and related actions such as parking, loading and unloading. After loading the data into a traffic model, they rerouted and adjusted infrastructure in the model to see what the consequences would be.

In short, the traffic model provided clear answers to the municipality’s questions and confirmed that a proposed new alternative for cyclists would continue a smooth and safe flow of traffic.

We were able to use the visualisation to provide insight into the proposed new alternative for our stakeholders. The insights into the traffic flows also helped us to optimise the design of the refurbishment that followed.

–  Eline Korthof, mobility department, municipality of The Hague.

De Jong believes that going to places and relying on human expertise is going to remain a key component of traffic and mobility consulting. However, digitalisation is on its way to becoming an even more important complement to real-life experience and will create even more possibilities to stimulate the imagination.

In the past, we mainly looked at how much asphalt had to be added to manage traffic. Now we are mainly looking at how we can distribute traffic better or where waiting is acceptable. I like to bring that future to life digitally.

Sweco’s digital urban development services

Sweco has a leading position in digitally mature markets. We have a strong decentralized model enabling rapid adoption of new technologies and will together with our clients co-create digital solutions to meet customer needs and add value.

Sweco uses innovative and sustainable urban development to tackle the challenges of urbanisation and the complexity of climate change while also improving cities’ mobility, social inclusion and economic development

Sweco’s experts design transportation systems that enable tomorrow’s cities to cope with a growing population as well as increasing requirements for sustainable transportation.

Our traffic experts are experienced in mobility issues, traffic engineering design and traffic management. We are working on better accessibility of urban areas and economic centres, along with mitigating the negative effects of congestion and traffic.

Contact us regarding:

  1. Traffic modelling and simulations
  2. Traffic management and systems
  3. Control systems (traffic light control)
  4. Mobility impact reports (MOBER) and mobility studies
  5. Parking studies and policy
  6. Development and management of parking garages
  7. Public transport studies