May 2019

Using data visualisation to beat gridlock

We hear a lot about bottlenecks, gridlock and congestion – ironically, often on our drive to work as we crawl along in rush hour traffic listening to the latest travel update on the radio.

We all think we know what’s causing the problems – whether it’s a particularly slow set of traffic lights, a road that narrows to one lane, a frustrating one-way system or simply too many drivers all trying to get to a particular area at the same time.

Visualise traffic as a heatmap

But if you’re responsible for planning and developing a city’s transport network, you can’t rely on hunches – you need to be sure of your facts before you start making changes that could affect tens of thousands of drivers every day. However, in cities like Cambridge, doing nothing is not an option. So where do we go from here?

GeoSpock’s state-of-the-art spatial big data platform sheds light on the problem by visualising traffic data as a heat map. And it’s a real eye-opener.

traffic data visualisation

Traffic data visualisation: The lighter the color, the higher the number of delivery vehicles passing through that camera

Using anonymised data from automatic number plate recognition cameras in 96 locations in and around Cambridge, the platform paints a picture of traffic volumes – highlighting things like the busiest entry points into the city, the trips vehicles are making within Cambridge each day and the peak traffic times.

It can even break down the data by vehicle type to reveal, for example, the patterns of delivery traffic – something that has grown rapidly as we increasingly opt for the convenience of internet shopping.

Data analysis to uncover insights

Not surprisingly, the platform highlights the fact that the majority of delivery vehicles enter Cambridge via the M11 and A14. Interestingly, though, one of the busiest delivery routes in the city is revealed to be Gonville Place – which was not designed to be a major traffic route. Food for thought when transport planning is on the agenda – could a redesign of Gonville Place address the problem, for example, or perhaps there is a way to reroute delivery traffic away from that area?

Data Explorer new traffic flow visualization

Traffic data visualisation: Flows of delivery vehicles from their first time caption camera. Line thickness reflects volume of traffic

As well as the Parker’s Piece area around Gonville Place, other hotspots for delivery vehicles are Huntingdon Road – and the stretch of Newmarket Road next to the Cambridge Retail Park. Add to this the fact that delivery movements peak between 7am and 8.30am and it’s no surprise the city is often gridlocked during the morning commute.

Data to make insightful decisions and save your business money

Time is money in the delivery world – so having all your van drivers stuck in commuter traffic every day is probably not the most efficient use of resources. Maybe it’s time to look at schedule or route changes that could dramatically reduce delivery times?

The Cambridge snapshot is just one example of how bringing data to life can give a valuable new perspective on a problem. With clear visibility of the bigger picture, smart delivery companies everywhere could save millions of pounds a year.

Contact us

To learn more about how the GeoSpock spatial big data platform can unlock insights in your data or to see a product demo, get in touch and a member of our team will contact you.

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