15 July 2020

Connecting traffic signalization with individual users and their smartphones

Nearly every day sees some new task our smartphones can help us with. Now, thanks to a system developed by InterCor, our phones may even help us drive more safely. The system sends road information to your device, even when you’re abroad. For a final assessment on real roads, the Government of Flanders organized a TestFest. Dynniq was commissioned to deploy its tried-and-tested, cloud-based infrastructure for this event.

Helping drivers make real-time decisions

The InterCor system sends information about roadworks, speed limits and traffic lights, helping the driver make real-time decisions. For example, as you approach an intersection, your screen will tell you whether the lights will be red or green – and what speed to go in order to catch a ‘green wave’. The goal of the system is to improve road safety and traffic flow. Another aim is to make travelling between countries easier: with InterCor – short for Interoperable Corridor – you can be driving to work in London or Brussels, or crossing from Germany into France for a holiday, and your phone will remain in sync with local traffic signals.

Testing InterCor system on real roads

Between March 25 and 28, 2019, the Flemish government made pilot sites available near Antwerp for interested parties to test this system on real roads. Industry players were invited to the ‘TestFest’ to assess whether their devices are interoperable with the InterCor interface. The Government of Flanders commissioned Dynniq to set up the pilot sites, because of our expertise in traffic control, signalization, the hybrid technology used for InterCor, and EU standards. We already manage traffic signalization in and around Antwerp and have previously implemented similar Connected and Cooperative Service Platforms (CCSPs), such as Flourish and CAPRI in the UK, as well as in-vehicle, cooperative solutions, like GreenFlow.

A complete test site, plus a few extras

Flanders required a ‘complete test environment’, which involved mobilizing and delivering the equipment, installing all the necessary units, and configuring the system. We delivered Roadside Units (RSU) with Wi-Fi ITS-G5 hotspots along the highways. We also installed so-called hybrid RSUs, which can communicate not only through Wi-Fi but also through mobile networks, such as 4G. These hybrid RSUs are important, as many of the devices in use are equipped with cellular communication and/or ITS-G5 – a short-range wireless technology used for increasing road traffic safety that complements network-based cellular technologies like 3G, 4G or 5G.

For collecting signalization information and transmitting it we provided in-vehicle On-Board Units, applications for smartphones and we set up a dedicated Flanders CCSP. This platform is cloud-based and also includes the so-called IF2 interface, which transmits data between countries.

An additional part of our job during the four-day Cross-Border Interoperability TestFest was to be on standby to handle any issues that might arise during the testing. Due to the size of the event, Dynniq also helped arrange logistics, such as hotels, conference rooms, and an important part of any event – the coffee breaks.

Something for everyone

The TestFest was open to public and private organizations working in the field of C-ITS (Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems). Around 100 participants attended, representing a broad spectrum of interests. There were government representatives from each of the member states (UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands) and from the European Commission. Car manufacturers brought devices or vehicles equipped with on-board units to test the technology. Competing road operators and service providers came to test against Dynniq’s infrastructure. Universities sent representatives to test the technology, but also to study the human dynamics involved. The infrastructure is currently still available for testing and will remain open until September 2020.

Keep looking through your windshield

So when will we be able to download InterCor onto our smartphones? Not just yet. Although the technology is ready to put in place, there are still barriers to large-scale implementation. One main obstacle is the need for more data on how drivers behave on the basis of the information they receive: how will a driver react if he or she knows a traffic light is going to change within seconds? This means that for now, drivers will continue receiving information the old-fashioned way: from signals they can see through their windshields. But the technology is there, and Dynniq now has the know-how and experience to set up the necessary installations if and when the time comes.