Blip’s Bluetooth-based technology keeps traffic moving at New Zealand air show


Following the disastrous traffic congestion caused by unexpectedly high spectator numbers at the 2012 Royal New Zealand Air Force Air Show, organizers of the 2017 event used a Bluetooth-based monitoring system to provide journey-time information for the traffic management system.

Faced with the dual challenges of trying to ease traffic congestion and reduce the potential for massive gridlock, the event organizers commissioned multi-disciplinary consultancy Beca to provide detailed information on how traffic flowed around the Ohakea Air Base, which is also a major state highway intersection.

Together with the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), local councils, and others, they developed a traffic management plan. To help ease the traffic flow by providing spectators with live traffic updates, Beca deployed a network of BlipTrack sensors, produced by Danish company Blip Systems. The system, already implemented in numerous road networks all over New Zealand, Thailand and Europe, captures the point-to-point journey patterns and travel time of drivers in real time, as they pass the sensors.

The resulting traffic information was communicated directly back to motorists in their cars, allowing them to make informed travel decisions, minimize frustration, and stagger the continuous arrival of visitors. Both spectators and residents in surrounding neighborhoods were advised to check the NZTA’s DriveLive website for up-to-date information on delays, travel times, and alternative routes. Behind the public DriveLive service, the event team had access to live traffic movements, so while spectators were enjoying the air display, the organizers could ensure that the drive home was as stress-free as possible.

The information was continuously updated, in line with the actual behavior of spectators traveling to and from the show. So, when considering their route and time of departure, the motorists themselves were helping to reduce bottlenecks and keep the traffic moving. Spectators responded positively to the traffic management measures and reported smooth traffic flow to and from the show.

Providing the Air Tattoo, NZTA and, most importantly, spectators with live and accurate travel information was a key way that we could ensure the event ran smoothly,” explained Beca’s project manager, Richard Young. “We had a team ready to react to any incident, and provide the Air Tattoo team with all the traffic data they needed to keep roads moving. The road network was the busiest of the summer, and thanks to using the BlipTrack system we were able to demonstrate that there were minimal delays caused by the event.”

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About Author


Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).