Real Time Traffic Info and socially desirable routes
Traffic Management Policy

The complex relationship between Real-Time Traffic Information and Socially Desirable Routes

Tuesday, 2 January 2024

Within the NAPCORE project (National Access Point Coordination Organisation for Europe), EU member states are currently aligning on the implementation of the 2022 revision of the Real-Time Traffic Information Delegated Regulation (RTTI DR). Several of the data categories in this revised RTTI DR have the goal to incorporate the societal impact in the routing advices of service providers to the road users. RTTI specialist Annet van Veenendaal, whose “day job” is business manager at the Dutch Nationaal Toegangspunt Mobiliteitsdata (National Mobility Data Access Point), explains what constitutes a socially desirable route - and why convincing drivers to use them is only half of the story.

What exactly is a ‘socially desirable route’?

Annet van Veenendaal (AV): Within NAPCORE we work together with private service providers on the implementation of the revised RTTI DR, including several data categories that are about socially desirable routes. The question is ‘what information is needed to how best to effectively ‘seduce’ road users to take a more socially desirable route?’ Service providers know their Within the RTTI Delegated Regulation, there are several data categories that are about socially desirable routing used? An example of this would be no heavy good vehicles on narrow streets within cities. Obligations with zonal validity, like environmental zones, are also part of the revised RTTI DR

Within the RTTI Delegated Regulation, there are several data categories that are about socially desirable routing

What would constitute a win-win situation in terms of the Real-Time Traffic Information Delegated Regulation?

AV: What is especially interesting in the revised RTTI DR is that there are obligations for both road authorities as well as service providers to work together on data quality, for instance. Creating a feedback loop between data providers and data users to work jointly towards improving data quality. And for service providers to include data on traffic circulation plans, traffic regulations and restrictions, provided by the competent authorities, in their services to the road users. I think we can really use this RTTI DR as a win-win for road authorities as service providers, íf we align on the implementation (the carrot) rather than just simple referring to the mutual mandate in the revised RTTI DR (the stick). And most of all, this alignment will lead to better informed road users – so true a win-win-win situation.

How do you go about defining a socially desirable route?

AV: As mentioned earlier, we wanted to focus on use cases: what is the functionality behind the data? It’s the road authorities that make traffic circulation plans and draw up traffic rules. Do they want to prevent cut-through traffic or is the network being used as it is designed for? Because there are no road authorities in NAPCORE (only National Access Points), we reached out to them via the members of the advisory board of NAPCORE and organised a workshop to collect use cases from them. Several use cases were mentioned, but what they all had in common was that service providers take into account the societal impact in their navigation advices. This is the reasoning behind sharing data on traffic circulation plans and temporary traffic management measures. Taking into account this reasoning, we need to work out what data and what quality is then needed in order for service providers to be able to incorporate that data into their services and provide relevant information to the end user. 

In some cases, to convince the road user to take the advice into account, it helps to explain the ‘why’ behind the advice. And let’s keep in mind that not all road users strive for the fastest route. A somewhat longer route could have more certain travel time or leads to reduced fuel use. Service providers can tailor their advice accordingly to the personal preferences of a road user.

In terms of socially desirable routes, circumventing schools to reduce the effects of vehicle emissions on children and improving road safety in the surrounding area would probably be the first one that most people would think of...

AV: Yes, in the crucial data types in the revised RTTI DR, you have ‘boundaries or restrictions, prohibitions or obligations with social validity, current access status and conditions and regulate traffic zones’. It's a bit fuzzy if the school zones make part of that data category, because it's not forbidden to drive there. You can also reason they are part of Traffic Circulation Plans. However, it does indeed seem to be a use case that can have a huge impact. I see a trend that the service providers are now taking into account not only the fastest route, but also the greenest route or the route that's safest or, in other words, takeig into account the societal impact. In the Netherlands, we recently conducted some very successful school zone pilots and the Dutch Ministry just decided to make this data available for the whole of the Netherlands and to make it available for service providers via the National Access Point.

Within the NAPCORE advisory board private service providers decided to join forces for the alignment on the RTTI implementation. We need the involvement of road authorities as well, because they are not represented in NAPCORE 

Within the NAPCORE advisory board private service providers decided to join forces for the alignment on the RTTI implementation. However, we need the involvement of road authorities as well. They are the data providers and they know what the use case is behind the data. Because they are not represented in NAPCORE and there is currently no pan-European platform for road authorities on the alignment on ITS services, the Dutch Ministry took the initiative to form a member state/road authority RTTI taskforce, a kind of spin-off of the NAPCORE work, if you like. Many EU member states/road authorities have already joined the RTTI Taskforce. 

The Netherlands is used to working closely with service providers. for instance in the Safety Priority Services project. We learned that it is so important to get to know each other and speak each other’s language. Therefore we are a great advocate of the carrot approach (collaboration), rather than the stick (using the mandate). 

I truly hope that NAPCORE, the RTTI Taskforce and the private service providers can come to concrete agreements on what data to share and what quality of data is required, thus creating that win-win-win for all by implementing the revised RTTI DR.

I truly hope that NAPCORE, the RTTI Taskforce and the private service providers can come to concrete agreements on what data to share and what quality of data is required, thus creating that win-win-win for all by implementing the revised RTTI DR

You are known as the Queen of RTTI. What are you particularly excited about in terms of the future of the provision of Real Time Traffic Information?

AV: Haha, this became a running gag within NAPCORE because I’m so passionate about the revised RTTI DR! In the past road authorities have shared data on Real Time Traffic Information as prescribed in the previous RTTI DR. However, that was no guarantee that this data was always incorporated in the services of service providers. With the obligations to collaborate public-privately in the revised RTTI DR and the mandate for both road authorities as well as service providers, I think together we can make a huge step forward in the provision of Real Time Traffic Information, taking into account the societal impact… but we have to align on the implementation.

 

I think together we can make a huge step forward in the provision of Real Time Traffic Information, taking into account the societal impact