Today (August 21), the USA will experience a total eclipse of the sun for the first time in 39 years, and traffic information and navigation company Here will be helping Oregon and other state Departments of Transportation (DOT) on or near the ‘path of totality’ to manage the expected crowds of spectators with real-time traffic data.
The total solar eclipse (TSE) will be viewable along a 70 miles-wide (112.6km) stretch of the USA from Oregon to South Carolina, with the moon completely covering the visible circle of the sun for more than two minutes. A partial eclipse will be visible to the rest of the USA, as the TSE travels for about an hour and a half, starting at Lincoln Beach, Oregon, on the West Coast, and ending near Charleston, South Carolina on the East Coast.
Oregon DOT (ODOT) believes the eclipse will cause the biggest traffic event in state history, and the agency is planning for as many as 1 million people travelling to the state to witness the event. The agency is expecting unprecedented road congestion throughout the entire state and particularly on the routes leading to the most publicized and optimal viewing areas.
ODOT has been using Here historical traffic data across the state to conduct before and after studies, track bottlenecks and more. To help the agency manage the event, Here has additionally enabled its live traffic data for the weeks around the eclipse. The real-time information will allow ODOT to compare current speeds to the free flow speed and average range, showing where current traffic is significantly more congested than a typical pattern.
With the support of Iteris’s iPeMS (Iteris Performance Measurement System) software platform, ODOT has defined over 80 routes to monitor during the eclipse, which will be watched closely to track changes in travel times. Here data will also be powering ODOT’s travel information website and social media channels, as well as feeding travel times to the state’s dynamic message signs (DMS).
Here is also providing historical and real-time traffic data to other states in the path of totality, including Missouri DOT (MoDOT) and North Carolina DOT (NCDOT), which have integrated it into many of their operations systems, such as work zones, incident management, traffic management center, and traveler resources. DMS will keep drivers informed on primary roads, and as the eclipse will pass over some rural areas without access to ITS devices, traffic management centers are using portable message boards on these routes.