New Zealand Air Force recruits Blip Systems for traffic management project
blip systems iot traffic management

New Zealand Air Force recruits Blip Systems for traffic management project

The Royal New Zealand Air Force has partnered with Danish IoT company Blip Systems to devise a traffic management system and ease congestion at its 80th-anniversary airshow.

Back in 2012, the Royal New Zealand Air Force celebrated its 75th anniversary at the Osaka Air Base on the country’s North Island. The Air Tattoo is a popular event, and local roads weren’t able to handle the 70,000 people who visited on the day. The result was traffic backing up for miles and a day to remember – for all the wrong reasons.

When planning for this year’s 80th birthday celebrations, the Air Force was obliged to find a solution to the congestion problem if it wanted to stage the event again. The New Zealand Defence Force needed help, as event organizer Renee Barbour admitted:

“They learnt from 2012 that they are great at flying planes. They are not so great at putting on large events. The plan was to put on another airshow, but they knew that they had to get it right. They knew they had to change things.”

The event team commissioned self-styled ‘problem solvers’ Beca, a consultancy firm, to investigate traffic flow around the Ohakea Air Base. Together with the New Zealand Transport Agency, they started to put together a traffic management plan.

Read more: Smart city of Aarhus uses Bluetooth sensors to improve traffic flows

Where IoT and traffic management meet

Beca’s search for congestion-easing solutions took it to Danish IoT company Blip Systems. The company’s BlipTrack sensors, which capture point-to-point travel patterns and the journey times of drivers, had already been applied to similar problems in Thailand, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the UK.

blip live updates traffic management
Live updates were provided to road users

The sensors are strategically placed around a road system and offer all the information that drivers need to make informed route choices before they set off and during their journeys. The result is  more evenly distributed traffic and an improved performance of the road network.

Motorists in their cars were advised both by live road signs and by the transport agency’s DriveLive web page. As well as cutting down journey times, this minimized driver frustration and allowed the event team to stagger the arrival of visitors.

Read more: UK council joins Waze Connected Citizens Partner program to ease traffic congestion

Sensors keep track of traffic

Blip Systems
BlipTrack in action.

The BlipTrack solution begins with the strategic placement of sensors at points along roads, transit networks and in public places. These sensors detect Bluetooth or WiFi devices, including smartphones and in-car audio and communication systems.

They can then re-identify those same devices further down the line, in order to accurately measure travel times, waiting times and movement patterns.

Beca project manager Richard Young said: “Providing the Air Tattoo, the New Zealand Transport Agency and, most importantly, spectators with live and accurate travel information is a key way that we can ensure the event runs smoothly.’

“We had a team working the weekend ready to react to any incident and provide the Air Tattoo team with all the traffic data they needed to keep roads moving. The road network was the busiest of the summer and, thanks to using the BlipTrack system, we were able to demonstrate that there were minimal delays caused by the Air Tattoo.”