Case study Web page with real-time business traffic information

The market party VID (the Traffic Information Service) developed a web page for the A12 roadworks between Grijsoord Junction and Ede-Wageningen, containing the following real-time traffic information:

  • traffic volumes on A and N roads near the roadworks (visually displayed)
  • additional journey times for routes/detours via these roads, including journey time comparisons via two routes
  • facts about the roadworks including live webcam images

The web page displayed the above information on a rotating basis and was specifically aimed at businesses (and busy locations) in the vicinity of the roadworks. These businesses could adjust the web page themselves, preferably on a TV screen. That made the information visible to, for instance, employees, customers or visitors. These users were not able to click to another page or request personal travel advice. The measure was part of a broader communication toolbox and was specifically deployed during the following periods of disruption:

  • two times six weeks of 90 km/hour phasing with narrowed lanes and no hard shoulder (autumn 2015)
  • two weekend closures where the A12 was closed in one direction (spring 2016).

Background and aim

The A12, between Grijsoord junction and Ede-Wageningen, was widened in both directions from two to three lanes. Local businesses were informed well in advance of the expected disruptions during the morning and evening rush hour. Businesses were also approached to discuss measures they could take themselves to limit disruptions for employees and visitors.

Businesses made it clear that they wanted to provide employees and visitors with easily accessible information about the traffic volumes on the A12 and local road network (e.g. the fastest route to Arnhem). This application catered to their wishes. The requested information could be displayed on e.g. TV screens in the lobby or on the company’s intranet. In 2016 the web page was adjusted for two weekend closures, also providing updates on the additional journey times on the extensive detours, including live webcam images.

The main purpose of the measure was to increase the acceptance of the closure among businesses by providing up-to-date and accurate travel information before and after the closures.

Scope and effect

The most important purpose, creation of acceptance among businesses for the A12 roadworks, was achieved. There was no negative publicity about the necessity of the roadworks and/or the disruptions. Evaluation showed that the businesses greatly appreciated our active approach, our willingness to listen to their wishes and the provision of ready-to-use communication instruments and other resources. The web page with real-time travel information certainly contributed to this positive opinion.

Points for attention

  • Reliable traffic data is key: the presented travel information must be correct at all times, otherwise users abandon the service. Before this measure was developed, the VID had already been instructed to implement Bluetooth data collection along major routes on the local road network in the roadworks area for monitoring and traffic management purposes. As a result, the data collection was already of a sufficiently good quality and the costs of the measure remained limited.
  • Focus on businesses: the web page was developed for the display of information by businesses. This was emphasised in all communications; clicking to another page or personal travel advice was not possible. The URL to the web page was also not communicated to the public.
    The most important reasons for this were:
    • The web page was specifically developed in response to a strong wish from businesses in the region.
    • ‘Keep it simple’ (and affordable).
    • Uniform communication to the public: the normal channels were used to communicate information on these roadworks to the wider public:
    - VanAnaarBeter and for information about the roadworks.
    - Real-time traffic information via the service providers.
  • When using live cameras, take account of possible incidents: make arrangements with the service provider for e.g. adjusting the web page or switching off the webcam if calamities or incidents occur at or near the roadworks.
  • Timely communication: to achieve successful implementation, the functioning web page with correct information must be communicated to the businesses at least 3 to 4 weeks before the roadworks start. Early involvement of communication advisers in the development process is vital to ensure the target group is reached in good time.
  • Use of mobile displays: Burgers’ Zoo was one of the stakeholders in the project, but did not have a TV screen at a suitable location. During the weekend closure in the Arnhem-bound direction, a temporary display was set up in the zoo. This gave visitors the option of staying a little longer if the arterial roads were congested.
  • Website versus mobile signs: the project also made use of mobile signs to indicate the latest journey times. The use of mobile signs in built-up areas is not ideal because of the noise nuisance (during the night) from the built-in diesel generators. As many businesses based at the Campus in Wageningen made use of the web page, the planned use of a mobile sign in a residential area could be cancelled.
  • See also the case study Narrowcasting screens deployed at Schiphol, Amsterdam, Almere (SAA): the use of the web page as described in this case study is similar to the use of the narrowcasting screens during the Schiphol-Amsterdam-Almere road widening project, which was also facilitated by the VID. The measure described in this fact sheet can be seen as a further development of the technology such as that deployed in the SAA project. Key differences are:
    - The SAA screens provided multimodal information. The use of the web page for this fact sheet only concerned real-time journey times for cars.
    - SAA delivered travel information on actual screens. The measure from this fact sheet concerned a rotating web page which, in principle, could also be displayed on other devices.

Can the measure be deployed more broadly?

Definitely. Considerable stakeholder acceptance amongst businesses can be achieved for projects at a relatively low cost. Note, however, that this measure can never work on its own. With the A12 Grijsoord-Ede-Wageningen Project, the web page formed part of the communication toolbox, while other traffic and mobility management measures were also deployed, such as in-app notifications (see the fact sheet In-app notifications and the case study In-app notifications deployed at Schiphol, Amsterdam, Almere (SAA) ). Remember also that the measure was taken in response to a strong request from stakeholders and was customised to their wishes.