Getting accurate estimated times of arrival when planning ahead

Editorial team
Thu Feb 27 2020
Route planning

Getting accurate estimated times of arrival when planning ahead

Editorial team
TomTom Blog
Thu Feb 27 20206 min read
Are we there yet? Just as city traffic congestion is only increasing year by year, so is the time spent traveling from point A to B. This inevitably leads to gridlock and challenges for urban mobility.
Combatting the impact of an increasing number of vehicles on the road every day requires working together. With the help of TomTom Speed Profiles, individuals, communities and businesses can make use of route planning software for more informed decisions about where, when and how to travel.

In this article, we will break down how you can help save time spent in traffic on your city road network while also improving accessibility in congested urban areas. A case study carried out by the University of Madrid will exemplify how to use data to improve urban mobility at all levels of the community.



Taking the fastest route

We all face daily challenges that impact the time it takes to navigate to and from our destination. There is nothing more frustrating than hitting high volumes of traffic and starting the day with an unplanned delay. With over 70% of people expected to live in cities within the next three decades, urban areas will only get more crowded and the challenge to keep everyone on the move will amplify.

Thankfully, cities and governments across the world can make a difference in how people move in and around urban areas. By using tools to analyze big data related to a road network, road authorities can reduce congestion and make cities more livable.

For example, knowing where the areas of congestion are can inform where new public transport stops should be placed. Optimizing the routes people take on their commutes will eventually lead to time saved, less fuel consumption and overall greener cities.

What type of information can cities use for traffic management and getting an accurate estimated time of arrival? Let’s have a look.



What are TomTom Speed Profiles?

TomTom Speed Profiles enable car manufacturers, businesses and governments to accurately estimate arrival time by offering average road vehicle speed information.

Traditional methods for calculating the estimated time of arrival rely on largely static information. Road size and legal speed limits are useful basic measurements, but they don’t change over the course of the day. These methods do not take into account the daily hurdles faced on the road such as traffic jams, speed bumps and roundabouts.

TomTom Speed Profiles create an image of the road network by aggregating and processing trillions of anonymous GPS measurements from millions of devices to reflect actual consumer driving patterns. The product provides average speed per road element, per direction of traffic for every five minutes of each day of every week.

These average road speed profiles enable navigation and routing algorithms to find the fastest routes in complex road networks, predict travel times accurately and suggest alternative routes or time to travel.
TomTom Speed Profiles can be used for the estimation of travel times when real-time information is not available and for planning ahead.

Speed Profiles can be used for the estimation of travel times when real-time information is not available and for planning ahead to facilitate route optimization. Here are some use cases:

  • On-board car navigation systems and route planning or navigation mobile applications for planning the fastest routes and estimating accurate arrival times
  • Route planning web-portals for planning the most optimal routes
  • Cities or governments for traffic management in usually congested areas
  • Supply chain management for on-time delivery of goods



Case study: improving accessibility at a city level

At TomTom, we want to use data to improve congestion and accessibility at all levels. From the consumer's daily journey to traffic and travel authorities aiming to make infrastructure changes to reduce congestion and increase the overall livability of their respective cities.

For example, a group of researchers at the Complutense University of Madrid used Speed Profiles to give an insightful analysis into one way that congestion impacts an aspect of daily urban life. The research team sought to find out the impact that door-to-door (access and egress) travel times have on the accessibility of the high-speed rail stations in Madrid and Barcelona at different times of the day.

The group struggled to find relevant data as most often door-to-door travel time is unjustly neglected in favor of in-vehicle travel time. Door-to-door travel time, however, is what can tip the scales in favor of choosing one form of travel to another.

Speed Profiles data was a perfect fit for the researchers as the product is the most accurate way to calculate the estimated time of arrival. Using a combination of traditional map features and a more in-depth analysis of the road conditions such as the number of cars on the road (as seen by TomTom), curvature and slopes, priority rules, traffic lights and importantly, the time of day. The researchers relied on TomTom to produce pinpoint accurate results.



Results

The results of the study reveal that depending on variations in traffic congestion and frequency of public transport services, door-to-door times vary significantly. When traveling to one of the high-speed rail stations, individuals traveling between Barcelona and Madrid will need to plan an additional 35% travel time when taking a taxi and up to 55% in the case of public transport.

Using TomTom Speed Profiles, the researchers were able to highlight the specific points in the city with the highest delays and congestion at different times of the day. We spoke to the head of the research team Javier Gutiérrez, Director Department of Geography at the Complutense University of Madrid and he confirmed: “Using TomTom Speed Profiles as a source of data for our research and publications has given us great insights and fantastic results. It really offers astounding opportunities for researchers on mobility and transport in cities."
"Using TomTom Speed Profiles as a source of data for our research and publications has given us great insights and fantastic results. It really offers astounding opportunities for researchers on mobility and transport in cities."

Javier Gutiérrez
Director Department of Geography at the Complutense University of Madrid
As such, studies like the one carried out by Javier Gutierrez and his team can provide vital insights to local cities and governments looking to make improvements in urban accessibility and mobility. Through this study, local travel authorities can detect inefficiencies concerning existing or to-be-built railway stations in and around congested urban areas. Authorities can make improvements to the local public transport systems to improve accessibility to specific areas.

For example, changing the schedule for suburban and high-speed trains or even opening new public transport stops in particularly congested areas. As such, studies like the one carried out by Javier Gutierrez and his team can provide vital insights to local cities and governments looking to make improvements in urban accessibility and mobility.

Through this study, local travel authorities can detect inefficiencies concerning existing or to-be-built railway stations in and around congested urban areas. Authorities can make improvements to the local public transport systems to improve accessibility to specific areas. For example, changing the schedule for suburban and high-speed trains or even opening new public transport stops in particularly congested areas.
Case study

Learn now the University of Madrid relies on TomTom Speed Profiles to analyze travel times for access to rail stations.

The future of urban accessibility

Although this study focused specifically on travel to high-speed rail stations in major Spanish cities, the findings highlight the potential for TomTom Speed Profiles data globally.

As congestion only continues to increase in urban areas, cities and governments need to invest valuable resources into traffic management and infrastructure improvements. Being able to pinpoint the exact pain points at different times of the day is crucial for understanding where to allocate funds. With the speed data provided by TomTom, cities can both save money and improve mobility in congested areas.

Improving accessibility in cities is a collaborative effort. TomTom Speed Profiles target all levels of the urban environment in 89 countries around the world. From car manufacturers, businesses and governments, our speed data helps you to plan ahead.
Want to learn more?

If you want to learn more about how TomTom Speed Profiles can help you, download the product sheet.

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