Traffic can be more easily and professionally planned, modelled, simulated, optimised, predicted and finally controlled in real time when using the right data. Data is the lifeblood of all our software products for optimising traffic and transport logistics and the fuel for value creation for our customers. Carmen Nowack, Solution Director Data at PTV Group, provides a first glimpse into the world of PTV Data Analytics.
Compass: What is the added value of PTV Data Analytics?
Carmen Nowack: The added value for our customers is that they can access data directly in our software or obtain specific data records and analyses via our unique cloud-based Data Analytics platform.
The use of Data Analytics enhances existing PTV products, services and processes, including transport planning with PTV Visum, traffic management with PTV Optima or the evaluation of new mobility and business models with PTV Maas Modeller. In transport logistics, the estimated time of arrival (ETA) (provided by PTV Drive&Arrive) is playing an increasingly important role, as it allows logistics companies to optimise existing resources in times of driver shortages and fierce price wars.
Compass: What types of data are processed by PTV?
Carmen Nowack: From historical data and dynamic real-time data to entire networks. Preparing and merging different data sets is our speciality.
This includes GPS (Global Positioning Systems) data, which are also referred to as floating car data or FCD. This point data collected via satellites contains positioning data and/or coordinates. The information is captured by fleet operators, telematics systems and mobile apps and provided by various data vendors.
We also use GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) data. These data records are provided by telecommunications providers. They contain anonymized motion profiles based on area data, using connect/disconnect data from the mobile network.
Compass: What additional data sources can be used?
Carmen Nowack: Our experts process a wide variety of data, including socio-demographic and economic data, e.g. for the creation of transport models, or toll data and truck-related restrictions. But also sensor data harvested from smartphones and apps, such as motion and usage data, are a valuable source of information. These records help us analyse how fast someone is travelling or which route or mode of transport was taken.
Compass: What are GPS, FCD and telematics data used for?
Carmen Nowack: GPS data (historical data or in real time) are particularly suitable for urban areas. In any case, data quality depends on the volume and density of the information available.
Compass: And what about GSM data or telecommunications data?
Carmen Nowack: GSM data have a better overall coverage, but they are not as accurate as GPS data. The data records are therefore particularly suitable for large areas and they are available as historical data.
Compass: Who are our data providers?
Carmen Nowack: We are independent and not bound to any suppliers. We use the data sources that are required or best suited for the specific task.
PTV is currently cooperating with the GPS data providers INRIX, Otonomo, Axxès and Navmii. Data service providers in the field of GSM include Motionlogic (Deutsche Telekom), Telefonica Next or Nommon/Kineo with data from the telecommunications provider Orange.
We are always open to new partnerships with providers who offer data that creates value for our customers and our range of services.
Compass: What kind of data services does PTV offer?
Carmen Nowack: Our focus is on data provision, data preparation or data refinement – always in the context of traffic and transport. We offer a variety of data services. Be it for specific analyses, supra-regional models or detailed urban transport models. If you are looking for refined or processed data in the field of traffic and transport, our data experts are the right partner for you.
Compass: Could you outline specific application examples?
Carmen Nowack: Data Analytics can be used in many different ways. Here are three examples:
- For traffic studies (based on travel times, speeds, origin-destination matrices, etc.): In order to identify traffic bottlenecks, to determine passenger transport demand, to minimise waiting and dwell times in freight transport, to improve road safety for pedestrians, or to optimise public transport, taxi transport or existing infrastructures.
- For transport models: Existing traffic models can be refined and calibrated. This provides users with an even more reliable planning basis for traffic & transport modelling.
- For the quality check of real-time data: As neutral quality inspectors, we help you find the best data for your specific application. We can compare the quality of all existing data sets for an area or route network on a daily basis by conducting a 24-hour analysis and help select a suitable data supplier.
Compass: And what are the challenges in Big Data Analytics?
Carmen Nowack: We want to and must raise awareness of the fact that suitable databases and targeted data analytics allow market players to master the challenges they face in traffic and transport more effectively. And there is still a great need for information and awareness raising. In addition, we currently only have data from individual areas, but not for entire networks or all transport modes. New data sources (e.g. apps) will increasingly improve data availability. To this end, we seek to maintain an active dialogue with providers and users that are part of the growing data community.