How VMZ Berlin and TomTom are helping to reduce traffic-based pollution in German cities
Kenneth Clay
Apr 8, 2021
Traffic and travel information

How VMZ Berlin and TomTom are helping to reduce traffic-based pollution in German cities

Kenneth Clay
Sr. Marketing Manager
Apr 8, 20214 min read
How VMZ Berlin and TomTom are helping to reduce traffic-based pollution in German cities
Many large cities are facing a challenge: They need to control traffic in a way that improves mobility and, at the same time, reduces nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions. VMZ Berlin has teamed up with TomTom to help cities in Germany tackle the issue, using traffic data to make the roads less congested and the environment less polluted.
VMZ Berlin specializes in transportation and mobility solutions. Founded in 1999 as VMZ Berlin Betreibergesellschaft GmbH, the company became a subsidiary of SIEMENS Mobility GmbH in 2006. VMZ’s clients include municipalities and regional agencies, technical ministries and public administrations, industry and economic associations, public and private companies. The company develops traffic management solutions, concepts and information that help people move quickly, safely, comfortably and efficiently.
Measuring trip distribution in Berlin
Measuring trip distribution in Berlin

Why quality location data is key to better traffic management

Traffic information is important for people. Are there delays ahead? When’s the best time to leave for work? Is a better route available? Knowing the answers to these questions helps people get where they need to be more efficiently. And crucially, this efficiency leads to reduced emissions.

Traffic information is founded on location data. Knowing the geospatial location of a driver’s starting and ending points, their current location and the various routing options available are important criteria for the algorithms embedded in a modern transportation management system. Traffic information also contains road speed information, such as real-time speeds per road segment.

As an operator of traffic information centers, VMZ Berlin needs great source data to deliver the detailed insights into traffic and travel patterns that its clients demand. That’s why, in 2012, the company chose TomTom as its location technology provider. Today, nearly a decade later, it continues to leverage many of TomTom’s traffic services, including real-time traffic data, historical traffic data and routing services.
Real-time traffic conditions in the Berlin city center
Real-time traffic conditions in the Berlin city center

Tackling traffic with floating car data

Why did VMZ Berlin know that TomTom was the right company to partner with for location and traffic data? In large part because of TomTom’s pioneering use of Floating Car Data (FCD). This is GPS data obtained from navigation devices and applications that provides a vehicle’s location and speed while it is in motion.

By collecting FCD, TomTom is able to create an archive with actual driven trips for analysis purposes. By using the aggregated statistics provided by TomTom, it’s possible to perform reliability studies for any location in the road network. FCD can also be used to make highly granular live traffic data, including live speed and incident data. This enables transportation operators to monitor the traffic situation in real time on their network with a high level of detail and be proactive in the management of traffic incidents.

Over time, as TomTom increased its access to FCD, data quality improved, and reliability got better.

TomTom’s historical and real-time traffic data quality are outstanding. We’re confident in knowing that VMZ solutions are based on the best location content.

VMZ Berlin
Learn how TomTom location data can help you analyze and improve road traffic

Introducing smart mobility to reduce emissions

One of VMZ Berlin’s clients, the German city of Würzburg, was looking for ways to influence traffic management, making mobility smarter, with the goal of reducing NO2 emissions. Unlike other cities who tried to solve the emission problem by banning diesel cars, Wurzburg wanted to find a different solution.

The city’s aim was to make roads less congested, minimize opportunities for drivers to accelerate unnecessarily and reduce traffic during peak hours. In short, it was looking to introduce an environmentally friendly traffic management system as part of its broader Green City Plan – aimed at promoting sustainable, emission-free mobility.

In 2019, VMZ Berlin came on board and kicked off a pilot project. The concept was to calculate traffic situations based on measured travel times according to the Handbook Emission Factors for Road Transport. Building upon these measures, current emissions and immersions of NO2 are calculated. This data directly influences the traffic light pre-emption in cities. New technology that VMZ Berlin is using is real-time traffic data to optimize traffic signals in real-time. The traffic signals have real-time monitoring constantly checking what is the best way to organize traffic. These signals make sure the wait time for all is reduced to a minimum while also trying to limit the time vehicles are running idle. As a result, there has been a big impact on urban traffic management, as it can reduce delays, pollution and improve traffic flow. These measures are being taken when high pollution levels are to be expected.

For Würzburg, planning and implementation of its environmentally friendly traffic management system is still in progress. While the project is not yet complete, all indications point to a successful outcome. VMZ Berlin has also launched a similar project with the city of Ludwigshafen, in southwest Germany – helping more drivers save time on their journeys, improving traffic flows and cutting emissions.

Thought leaders in innovative cities are always looking for ways to making mobility smarter, with the goal of making their cities safer and cleaner. Together, VMZ Berlin mobility solutions and TomTom location data are working toward this noble goal.
Learn more about TomTom location data for traffic management
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