The City of Cologne, Germany, and IBM have completed a smarter traffic pilot to predict and manage traffic flow and road congestion in the city. The pilot demonstrates how the city of Cologne can anticipate, better manage, and in many cases, avoid traffic jams and trouble spots across the city using analytics technology.
The city’s traffic engineers and IBM were able to predict traffic volume and flow with more than 90% accuracy up to 30 minutes in advance. As a result, travelers would be able to better plan ahead and determine whether they should leave at a different time, plan an alternate route or use a different mode of transportation.
Cologne, Germany’s fourth largest city with a population of just above one million, is a retail center, hub for trade shows and a cultural center with many museums and galleries. The increase in traffic density and congestion has incentivized the City of Cologne to seek out new ways to better manage and optimize traffic flow and increase the capacity of its transportation networks within the constraints of its infrastructure.
The traffic command center collects real-time data from more than 150 monitoring stations and 20 traffic cameras on the roads, highways and at intersections that are known to be traffic hot spots. However, the command center currently does not have advanced traffic management tools or a way to forecast what traffic will be like in the near future. The advanced transportation management software could help traffic officials identify imminent road congestion and help them plan and respond ahead of time.
As one of the first congestion-prone large cities to do so, Cologne has taken an important step in the right direction with this project. Intelligent traffic management based on precise forecasting techniques can help cities anticipate and avoid traffic congestion and possibly reduce the volume of traffic, resulting in a more sustainable transportation network.—Eric-Mark Huitema, IBM Smarter Transportation leader, Europe
IBM transportation experts and researchers worked with the City of Cologne to analyze data from its traffic monitoring stations along the on the left bank of the Rhine for a period of six weeks with the aid of the IBM Traffic Prediction Tool and IBM Intelligent Transportation solutions.
The detailed results, which compare the accuracy of the traffic prediction tool to the real-time data, revealed the accuracy of short-term forecasting for 30 minutes ahead to be 94% for vehicle speed and 87% for the volume of traffic.
The Traffic Prediction Tool invented by IBM Research is a component of the IBM's Intelligent Operation Center software, which draws on experience gained from Smarter Cities projects with cities around the world.