Relieving Traffic Congestion by Tracking Vehicle Movement: Leveraging Locus Data to Help Make Roads Safer and Better

Improving Road Infrastructure in Tokyo

For most people, cars are indispensable for getting about in daily life. But a steady increase in car ownership and usage has created chronic congestion in our cities. According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), the average travel speed in the Tokyo metropolitan area (which includes all 23 cities) is just 18.5 km/h, about half the national average of 35.2 km/h.*

Chronic urban congestion has a major economic impact. The MLIT estimates that lifting the average travel speed in the Tokyo metropolitan area to 30 km/h would deliver an economic benefit of 4.9 trillion yen through increased industrial and urban activity.**

Traffic congestion occurs when the volume of traffic exceeds the capacity of the road network. With traffic volumes on the roads of Tokyo continuing to rise, the city’s road network has not been keeping up with the rate of increase. Tokyo’s road-to-land ratio (i.e. the proportion of total land area occupied by roadways) 15% is said to be low, compared with 25% for Washington D.C. and 20% for Paris. This figure alone suggests the further expansion in Tokyo’s road network.***

* From the FY2010 Road Traffic Census, a nationwide road usage survey conducted every five years by the MLIT
** Based on Road Traffic Census figures for Tokyo
*** From the 2010 Road Pocketbook (Japan Highway Users Conference)

Using Probe Data in Road Infrastructure Development

Then how do we make the roads better and safer? We need to visualize the current road usage, and make the effective road network enhancement plan. From this view, the usage of locus data from moving vehicles recently came in sight.

Locus data, also known as probe data, is generated by vehicles fitted with GPS devices. Position information obtained from moving vehicles, including their latitude and longitude coordinates, is matched with time stamps and other data to assess overall traffic conditions, and this information is then used to analyze road usage and generate traffic updates for satnav devices.

Since 2012, Fujitsu has been providing, along with Transtron, a Fujitsu affiliate company, a traffic safety information supply service based on probe data. In addition, 2014 saw Fujitsu launch a new service that uses probe data to analyze road usage patterns.

Facilitating Up to Date and Effective Road Infrastructure Planning

To further expand this highly advanced data analysis service, Fujitsu established a strategic affiliate company, “Fujitsu Traffic & Road Data Service Limited” or “FTRD” for short. The company has already launched two new services: the Commercial Vehicle Data Analysis Service and the Road Data Analysis Service (Road Patrol Support Service).

The Commercial Vehicle Data Analysis Service can be used to track the travel history of specific vehicles. It shows whether the driver chose the expressway or an ordinary public road, for example. This information can be used to measure the influence of a new road infrastructure development, and to provide drivers and transportation management personnel with traffic condition updates.

Commercial Vehicle Data Analysis Service

The Road Data Analysis Service (Road Patrol Support Service), meanwhile, uses a smartphone mounted on the vehicle dashboard to analyze the road surface quality based on the level of vibration while driving. This provides valuable data for the scheduling road maintenance. In combination with probe data and other traffic data, it can be used to identify which roads are most in need of repair and determine a priority ranking for roadworks.

Road Data Analysis Service

Fujitsu TR·REC Laboratories is a company that was established recently in conjunction with the Regional Futures Research Center, a consulting company which conducts traffic modeling and road network planning. Road network planning was once based largely on human intuition and experience, but now it can be done with the help of detailed data analysis by road traffic management expertise.

Further use of this objective road and traffic data will make it possible to carry out the effective road network maintenance and renewal planning. Fujitsu is committed to building safer and better road and traffic networks.