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SAP Helps Clear Traffic Jams

April 30, 2015 by Theresa Böhme 6

Increasing urbanization makes it difficult for cities to control traffic. SAP cooperates with local traffic authorities to make traffic in metropolises flow smoothly.

Many cities are experiencing a rapid growth in public and private transportation caused by increasing urbanization and an expansion of the urban life style. This creates many challenges: denser traffic flow, greater traffic volume, and more traffic jams, which in turn increase the potential for traffic accidents.

Passenger transport in Germany has grown 20% since 1997 to roughly 50 million cars. The situation in other countries such as China, however, is far more extreme. With an estimated 78 million vehicles at present, the number of vehicles in China is increasing more than 100% every decade. China also has a new car registration rate of 16 million automobiles per year, which constitutes roughly half all global registrations.

Naturally, local traffic authorities are very interested in planning and optimizing their traffic regulation. SAP has been working with several partners for many years to maximize the efficiency of smart traffic with the SAP HANA database.

Dr. Norbert Koppenhagen, vice president of Research & Innovation at SAP, explains: “Smart traffic is one of the hottest topics in the competition for smart cities. It is also crucial in answering the question of how to organize a city and its infrastructure so that it is simultaneously more intelligent and more pleasant for the citizens.”

Smart traffic concepts in China

Together with traffic authorities and local partners in China, SAP is working on the development of specialized control systems to optimize every-day traffic in large cities and offer reliable support in traffic planning processes. Open and flexible smart city platforms are key elements of the strategy. They make it easier for authorities to access up-to-date information, enabling them to answer the following practical questions: How many people are using public transportation systems right now? How high is the traffic volume downtown? Are there any events influencing traffic at the moment? How can current data information and prognostics for the future optimize our potential?

Users can connect certain apps for mobile devices to the platforms and access the data in real time. One such mobile application is project “CityApp.”

“Citizens and tourists of the metropolises as users are the main focus of ‘CityApp,'” says Koppenhagen. “The idea is to help the users find the nearest free parking spot quickly and easily, for example. Or to show them how they can avoid current traffic congestions. Our hope for the future is that the app will automatically direct the users to a free parking spot or transfer point within the kilometer, as well as optimize the flow of traffic in real time.”

The SAP Innovation Center in China has already implemented a control system for the metropolises of China that displays the incoming and outgoing traffic flow on a digital map. As an example for the Internet of Things (IoT) application scenario, this digital map acquires information from several sources. The main streets of the Chinese metropolis are equipped with sensors, cars are outfitted with RFID chips, and partners from taxi services and bus companies provide GPS data information.

“The map can tell us exactly how many vehicles arrive in or leave a certain city district in the early morning hours. We can then use this information to predict the after-work traffic.” The data is analyzed through SAP HANA in-memory technology and the results are immediately updated on the digital map. Everything is kept strictly anonymous. “We cannot access any personal information about the cars or the drivers,” Koppenhagen assures.

Forecasts based on real-time data

Another project in cooperation with Chinese cities digitally visualizes critical points of traffic so that authorities can determine the average speed along certain segments of a street – all in real time.

“We want to be able to make short-term forecasts based on the information and data, and make instant decisions accordingly. With the help of specially adapted traffic light circuits, it could be possible to alleviate congestion in peak hours on certain streets by purposely slowing down traffic in outlying areas,” Koppenhagen reveals. Real-time data evaluation with the help of SAP technology could soon make such a scenario become every-day reality.

Photo: Shutterstock

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