iTRAQ - Integrated Traffic Management and Air Quality Control Using Space Services

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iTRAQ is a project to develop a dynamic traffic management system for optimising use of the road network whilst meeting growing demands to sustain high standards of air quality in urban environments. This part of the project is stage one: a one year feasibility study to develop a system concept around an existing operational traffic control system in use in the City of Leicester, augmented with traffic flow and air quality information and near real-time data from space and in situ measurements. At stage two a demonstration activity is planned.

The overall objective of this study is to establish whether an integrated system of traffic and air quality management, strengthened through the use of GNSS, air quality and meteorology data from space-borne assets, could provide societal and economic benefits through implementation at the local authority level.

This feasibility study will define the requirements for an integrated traffic and air quality management system, which would use a selection of in-situ and satellite data to provide improved information and advice to local authorities. The study will establish user requirements and priorities and document state-of-the-art solutions. The proposed iTRAQ architecture will be tailored to meet user needs, and trialled in a region of interest within the city of Leicester to explore the potential benefits of system implementation. The project will also undertake an analysis of the economic and non-economic viability of the system, and will prepare a roadmap for further implementation of the system as a demonstration project.

Figure 1: The Leicester road network, overlaid with air quality data produced by the AirViro model. The region of interest for the iTRAQ pilot study is shown in green.

 

Users and their needs

The target market is anticipated to be that of the local authorities of medium to large towns (typically >200,000 people). In the iTRAQ feasibility study the user is Leicester City Council in the UK, however surrounding local authorities that cover both nearby towns and the adjacent rural areas are being invited to oversee this project and encouraged to participate in the planned follow-on Demonstration Activity.

Operational priorities for iTRAQ are to mitigate traffic congestion, improve delivery from public transportation networks, and improve air quality. These priorities are driven by local, national and European level policy in the areas of air quality, local transport and climate. Not only will the project aim to improve existing management in these areas, but will provide evidence to support regulatory reporting and enable a valuable assessment of current and future policy to take place.

In the current era of austerity, maximising the return in all parts of a local authority's responsibilities is welcome and this project aims to work with the users to cover as many different aspects as possible.

Service/ system concept

The service concept is to provide a core capability that can integrate with existing terrestrial data feeds and systems, and to provide instructions to the local traffic light control system such that the traffic flows around a city can be optimised. This leads to an integrated approach to traffic management and air quality across a city, whereas at present these issues may be managed separately.
It is acknowledged that different users will have different levels of maturity with respect to in situ systems, or may have chosen alternative providers than those chosen by Leicester City Council. Therefore the iTRAQ system anticipates using whatever data is available at any single user's location. The core of the system is a computational intelligence module that estimates the optimal solution, and this is also able to provide outputs for any other purposes that the users might need (e.g. statutory reporting)

Space Added Value

In iTRAQ, utilizing Earth Observation data provides added value for repeatedly updating air quality status information for wide areas, also acting as a baseline for the traffic and environmental control system. Additionally GNSS technologies are sourced for real-time update of traffic status. Whilst GNSS data feeds are still in their infancy in terms of the number of vehicles that are equipped to transmit their position (typically limited to local bus or taxi companies), the latest generation of smart devices will change the way that this sort of information is used and accessible.

Product Features

Congestion within urban environments is a significant factor in journey time, fuel efficiency, driver frustration, total carbon emissions, and local air quality. This system will explore the use of GNSS data to better map urban congestion, and build upon improved understanding to provide guidance to local authorities on both near real time and long-term amelioration strategies. Local air quality can be significantly impacted by the spatial distribution of congestion-related emissions, with this scheme offering unprecedented capabilities in assessing and managing the impact of the position of congested traffic.

The use of space-borne data for both aspects of iTRAQ is expected to offer increased economic and social impact for service providers and end users. Expected benefits include an increase in average speed through the road network, through improved congestion management, and an improvement in key air quality indicators such as exceedances of regulatory limits for PM10 and nitrogen dioxide.

The iTRAQ system provides advice in near-real-time to local authorities on an integrated strategy for both traffic management and air quality. In particular, near real time guidance on desirable traffic flows is produced which, in a fully-implemented system, can be routed to either traffic light control systems or automated signage to influence and optimise traffic density. The correct guidance is determined through a computational intelligence algorithm which weighs up factors of user priorities, current and forecast traffic flows, and current and forecast air quality. Traffic flow information is supplemented by GNSS data on vehicles passing through the road network in question. Air quality information is supplemented by both ground-based remote sensing data, background field data from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on the AURA satellite, and space-borne meteorology data. These data streams are integrated with traditional ground-based sensor networks for both traffic and air quality.

Figure 2: Architecture Diagram with elements of the traffic and environmental control system as used in Leicester, UK.

Key Issues

Traffic densities are increasing, with improvements in emission rates failing to provide the necessary compensating impact on air quality. Therefore, systems are required to jointly manage traffic flows and air quality in urban environments, to optimise the efficient movement of people and goods, while protecting the health of residents and visitors to major cities.

Current Status

The Feasibility Study has been successfully completed, all meetings have taken place and all deliverables submitted. The Final Review meeting took place on 18 April 2012.

The Feasibility Study concluded that iTRAQ is technically and economically feasible and can provide improvements to both traffic and air quality which, in a full system implementation, is likely to meet the majority of local authority user needs. Simulations have shown that the recommendations made by iTRAQ for changes at traffic junctions led to an increase in traffic flow, which in turn effectively reduced the overall duration of the traffic peak and the duration of particular pollution peaks.

At this stage some elements of the system are not technically mature, therefore further development is required to take iTRAQ to a fully operational system. These developments would be addressed in a Demonstration Phase. A follow on piece of work called "iTRAQ-X" (a second implementation of iTRAQ, this time in Northamptonshire) is currently underway to resolve some of the technical issues highlighted in the Feasibility Study as well as to understand different user requirements. This piece of work is due to be completed Autumn 2012. A proposal for a Demonstration Project is planned to be submitted by 2013.

Project Managers

Contractor Project Manager

Clare Folkard
Europa House, The Crescent
Southwood, Farnborough, Hampshire
GU14 0NL
United Kingdom

ESA Project Manager

Stefan Gustafsson
Keplerlaan 1
2201 AZ Noordwijk
Netherlands

Status Date

Updated: 25 May 2012 - Created: 15 February 2014