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Smart zones for a more sustainable and safe city

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

To create a city on pedestrians' terms, right technology and good cooperation are needed, says Felicia Hökars, project manager, Smart Urban Traffic Zones.

The result from the Smart urban traffic zones project shows that it is technically possible to create smart zones in cities to control transport with everything from food to concrete, for a safer and more sustainable city.

Smarta urbana trafikzoner

Within the project Smart urban traffic zones, different concepts of smart zones have been tested. A smart zone is based on digital tools such as connected sensors and geofencing.Geofence is a digitally defined area where vehicles are controlled by digitally set rules, which enables control of how a vehicle is driven within the zone completely digitally.

Three different tests have been carried out. One on Hornsgatan in Stockholm where dynamically speed-controlled distribution vehicles, which deliver food to shops and restaurants in the area, were included in the test. The result shows that it is technically possible to create a smart zone for dynamic speed regulation. The drivers in the participating vehicles were generally positive about the system, but the results also show that in order to get a better and safer results, tests need to be carried out in a larger zone and in more places. At Hornsgatan, a loading bay was also equipped with a sensor that generated valuable information for the city about how the loading bay was used during the day.

At Södermalm in Stockholm, another test was carried out where a concrete truck was given a dispensation to drive with a heavier weight than is normally allowed and in this way it was possible to load more concrete into the tank. With heavier loads, fewer trips to and from construction sites are required, reducing the total number of heavy bulk transports.

For the city of Stockholm, Smart Urban Traffic Zones has been a very fun and successful project where we have had the opportunity to explore and test how the exchange of data between road controllers, smart sensors, and connected vehicles in smart zones can contribute to a better interaction between different road users and a safer traffic environment for our citizens.

The results show that there are good opportunities to develop more permanent solutions based on geofencing in an urban environment, and this is something we will continue to work on moving forward!

Victoria Herlsöf, City of Stockholm

Finally, a test was also carried out in Gothenburg where a smart zone around a construction exit was tested to reduce the risk of collisions between heavy vehicles and cyclists. The Safe construction exit was equipped with smart sensors connected to a warning system. When a cyclist approaches a construction exit at the same time as a heavy vehicle enters or exits the construction site, the warning system is activated to alert both the cyclist and the driver of the vehicle. The results show that how the physical environment around the construction exit is designed, including where the warning systems are placed, plays a major role in how cyclists and drivers perceive and manage the traffic situation.

Primarily, Smart urban traffic zones have enabled an exchange of knowledge between many important parties, and this is difficult to quantify in concrete results. But it has also made us concrete the challenges we face through the various tests we have done together. Here we clearly see how several participating parties together with the City of Gothenburg are now moving on and trying to reach even further in a next step. I am sure that the results of these tests will help other cities, regions and municipalities that have similar ambitions.

Jonas Malmryd, City of Gothenburg

Moving forward

There are still some challenges to be met before the smart zones demonstrated in the project can be used on a larger scale. These challenges are not about technical solutions, but about the development of regulations, traffic regulations, standardization of communication to and between vehicles, handling of data and data sharing between different actors. Finally, even those who are road managers need to know how they should be designed to achieve the effects needed and enable the use of the information generated within smart zones for planning and monitoring the use of the transport system.

Do you want to know more about the results?

Felicia Hökars

Felicia Hökars

Project leader
Anna-Karin Salmi

Anna-Karin Salmi

Project leader