Smart City Solutions Through Combined Air Pollution & Traffic Technologies

The Project : Network Emissions/Vehicle Flow Management Adjustment (NEVFMA)

Network Emissions/Vehicle Flow Management Adjustment (NEVFMA), a Highways England funded project through Innovate UK joined up EarthSense, Aimsun, Siemens Mobility and Oxfordshire County Council to find innovative ways of improving air quality across Oxfordshire by influencing traffic flow to reduce vehicle emissions.

The project, led by leading providers of software for traffic planning, simulation, and prediction, Aimsun used combined traffic and air quality technologies from Aimsun Live and Zephyr® air quality monitor measurements integrated with EarthSense’s MappAir® 10 metre city dispersion model to provide solutions to real life traffic problems.

Making use of scenario planning and response plans, the project aimed to guide traffic management strategies for the implementation of a prospective Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) in Oxfordshire.

How do the Technologies Come Together?

Transport, emissions, and air quality are factors which are known to go hand in hand. EarthSense specialise in air quality monitoring services to provide commercial businesses and local authorities with insights into air pollution, and Aimsun are a leading software developer of smart transport modelling services. With intrinsic links between air quality and transport still an ongoing global issue, NEVFMA employed each of their technologies to provide solutions to transport issues by influencing traffic flow, reducing vehicle emissions, and optimising air quality.

aimsun live

Aimsun’s transport model, Aimsun Live, uses inputs from live field data, traffic counters, data capture devices and signal timings to produce a traffic model of road networks to reflect real time traffic behaviour. This traffic data is ingested with historic traffic flow information to produce predictions about what is likely to happen in the road network based on past traffic experience. Aimsun Live also uses the London Emissions Model (LEM) to produce emission estimates, also known as tailpipe emissions, for each link throughout the road network or city. Aimsun Live allows its users to compare and identify the most effective traffic management strategies against a ‘do nothing’ or scenario approach, enabling informed decisions to dynamically manage traffic.

EarthSense services help to identify air pollution levels with Zephyr® air quality monitors, MappAir® modelling and the MyAir® web application. By deploying Zephyr® monitors, air pollution measurements provide live information for real-time air quality levels which are supplemented by MappAir® for additional context to measurements. Viewed, analysed, and downloaded through MyAir®, the complete service quantifies and provides visualisations of pollution sources and dispersion around localised sites or wide scale areas to enable a holistic understanding of air quality.

air pollution data

In the context of NEVFMA, both Aimsun and EarthSense services were employed. Aimsun Live was utilised to deliver a model of Oxfordshire’s road networks for information regarding traffic build-up and peak congestion periods throughout the day and predictions of upcoming traffic problems, allowing for mitigation strategies to be identified in advance. EarthSense air quality data provided visualisations of how nitrogen dioxide (NO2) flows and disperses around Oxfordshire’s buildings and urban canyons, historic data and up to 3-day pollution forecasts. Integrated into the model were measurements from a Zephyr® network with mobile and static units deployed around the county to provide real-time ambient air pollution information for nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), nitric oxide (NO) and particulate matter (PM2.5). This data was viewed through the MyAir® web app, enabling its users to analyse and download traffic and air quality data.

Through employing both air quality and transport data, this helped to identify real-time air quality and traffic behaviour throughout Oxfordshire. The next steps were to combine each data set to produce a solution to reduce emissions by influencing traffic flow.

Producing Real-life Scenarios & Response Plans