The Eastern Netherlands region has worked hard over the last year to make network-wide scenario management operational. Under the SLIM Verkeersmanagement scheme, one of the measures of the ‘Beter Benutten’ (‘Optimizing Use’) program, and together with the market, road managers in Gelderland and Overijssel set up a pilot, developing a network management system (NMS) and testing it in practice. The first experiences with the system are promising.
Article from NM-Magazine, June 2014 – also available in PDF (Dutch only)
GelOve is the name that road managers gave to the partnership: a combination of Gelderland and Overijssel. It is like the Dutch verb ‘geloven’ (to believe), and the road managers also chose this name to express their firm belief in joint traffic management. The partnership is an initiative of the cities of Arnhem, Nijmegen and Deventer, the provinces of Gelderland and Overijssel, and Rijkswaterstaat. The regions Twente, Zwolle-Kampen and Groningen are preparing to join.
The people of this region are known in the Netherlands for being sensible and down-to-earth. These traits also characterize the GelOve approach: start on a small scale, learn from the experience, and build on these experiences to expand step by step. In late 2012, GelOve sought the cooperation of IT&T, which has since become Vialis, to develop a network management system. The choice for IT&T was an obvious one, because Gelderland, Overijssel, Arnhem and Nijmegen already use IT&T’s ‘VI-Centrale’ to manage their traffic light control system. The parties drew up the functional demands for the new NMS together, and in May 2013, IT&T rolled out the first release. Gelderland has taken on the role of manager. The architecture of ‘NMS GelOve’ is fully compliant with the ‘OCD Netwerkbreed Regelscenariomanagement’ (‘OCD network-wide traffic management scenario management’), which contains descriptions of the national regulations and requirements.
NMS GelOve makes it possible to deploy traffic management scenarios within the management areas of Gelderland, Overijssel and Arnhem. But this does not suffice for true network-wide scenario management. For that, the NMS has to be accessible from the Regional Desk in the Northern and Eastern Netherlands Traffic Control Center in Wolfheze, the place where traffic management is carried out for this region. This step was realized in December 2013, when a web-based user interface was delivered that made it possible to control the system from the Regional Desk. A second point is that NMS GelOve has to be connected with other network management systems in the region so as to be able to really operate across the entire regional network. Deventer already had its own NMS with DevIS, and Nijmegen was in the process of purchasing one in the context of the new bridge over the Waal. Rijkswaterstaat was planning to purchase an NMS for the Wolheze traffic control center, but national developments in Rijkswaterstaat meant that it would take a while before this could be realized.
First operational DVM-Exchange link
The success of the first step, an NMS with potential, stimulated the other road managers to keep up the pace. A link was made in June 2014 between NMS GelOve and Deventer’s NMS, DevIS. We used DVM-Exchange 2.5 to realize this. IT&T integrated the interface into NMS GelOve and Technolution into DevIS. Shortly afterwards the connected network management systems became operational; the first operational DVM-Exchange connection in the Netherlands. Rijkswaterstaat recognizes the importance of having an NMS in the Wolfheze traffic control center and has decided to implement its first, national, uniform NMS there. This will be ready on August 1, 2014. Rijkswaterstaat will also use DVM-Exchange to link up with other network management systems and with its own traffic management centers.
The expectation is that Zwolle-Kampen and the Twente Regio will also be connected later this year. ‘Groningen Bereikbaar’ (‘Accessible Groningen’) and Assen are still in the process of purchasing their own NMS, but these too can be easily linked, using DVM-Exchange, to NMS GelOve and the other network management systems in the region.
The road network where the joint traffic management scenarios can be deployed is still expanding, but the GelOve partnership has already had some excellent practical experience with the network management system. For example, the traffic management scenarios for the amusement parks in North Arnhem have been successfully deployed from the Wolfheze Regional Desk since March 1 of this year. A different, but equally successful application was at the Gelredome stadium, although implementing traffic management scenarios there involved a lot more work than at the amusement parks. The region previously had four more or less static traffic management scenarios to control traffic on the main road network: ‘Prior notification’, ‘Minor event’, ‘Major event’ and ‘Outflow’. In addition, the local operator controlled the three traffic light installations near the stadium using a button panel from the Gelredome command center. In the new set-up, GelOve has defined approximately 25 traffic management services that can be deployed independently of each other at any moment, in order to direct the flow of traffic to the right car parks. During a Justin Timberlake concert on April 18, 2014, the new approach to Gelredome scenario management was tested for the first time in practice – and to great success. It was able to smoothly direct circa 7,000 vehicles to various car parks in and around Arnhem. The command post was so pleased with the outcome that it decided to deploy the Gelredome scenarios the following week to regulate the traffic for the soccer match Vitesse v. Go Ahead Eagles. It will be possible to improve the traffic management scenarios even further once the link with Rijkswaterstaat’s NMS has been realized. DRIP messages can then also be displayed automatically.
Building on these successful practical experiences, the road managers are working fast on expanding the number of traffic management scenarios. This will make it possible even before the end of the year to make well-founded statements about the effects of scenario management in the region. Within the foreseeable future it will be possible to deploy network-wide scenario management within the entire area of Northern and Eastern Netherlands Traffic Control Center’s remit.
Organizing regional cooperation
An interesting question that was raised within the regions is which party is responsible for the deployment of traffic management scenarios. The original idea, that this would always be the Regional Desk, no longer seems right. In the case of the Gelredome scenarios it became evident that insight into the local traffic situation can sometimes be indispensable. Successfully ushering out buses full of ecstatic soccer fans is something that has to be decided within seconds rather than minutes and which demands short lines of communication as well as direct control from the nerve center. For this reason control from the Gelredome command post seems the most obvious solution. This could also be the deciding factor for other events. On the other hand, the Regional Desk is still the right body to deploy diversion routes. The good thing about the way the system is set up within the GelOve partnership – with its various network management systems linked through DVM-Exchange – is that it offers flexibility: traffic management scenarios can be deployed from different locations. When they meet to define the traffic management scenarios, the road managers involved will have to agree in advance who is given the responsibility to deploy them, and they will have to work together intensively and in open communication. Coming to agreement about these issues will be more complex than the technical aspect of linking the network management systems together. At least the GelOve partnership has made the first step. In the coming period, the road managers will have to meet the challenge of making agreements about deploying traffic management scenarios together. This will be crucial to making regional network-wide scenario management a success.
Vincent Bronkhorst is Management Consultant DTM at the City of Arnhem.