12:04, 2 July 2009 Page views 333 views

NXP and IBM Launch Pilot of Road User Charging in the Netherlands

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On, June 25, 2009, IBM and NXP have announced the beginning of a pilot to help address the challenge of traffic congestion in the Netherlands. The first practical test of road user charging in the Netherlands aims to demonstrate the feasibility of a new road user charging technique. The new system assigns a fee based on road type, time period and the environmental characteristics of the routes driven. This information is displayed to motorists in a clear and easy to understand way.

Erik van Merrienboer, Alderman for Traffic for the city of Eindhoven, demonstrated the system's ease by installing a prototype of the so-called On Board Unit in the first of a number of cars to be driven by employees of IBM and NXP. The trial has been set up in close consultation with the regional government. Beter Bereikbaar Zuidoost-Brabant (A More Accessible Southeast Brabant), the Eindhoven Regional Partnership Alliance, the Ministry of Traffic and Communication and the Province of North Brabant are subsidising various test projects on the interface between business and government. The partners are aiming to increase collaboration between companies, governments and educational and research institutions.

Fifty employees at the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven are testing the system for six months. Each participant will have an On Board Unit in their vehicle that will register all trips and assigns a price for each one. Using a secure web site, participants can see what route they have taken, what it costs and whether or not their choice of route has reduced their costs or not. During the second phase of the test, drivers will travel outside of rush hours or use a cheaper route on the commute from home to work. A competitive aspect is introduced by rewarding those employees who change their driving habits most effectively. The trial is intended to demonstrate the practical application of the technique and to make employees aware that different driving habits will lead to considerable differences in driving expenses in the future. The results will be available at the end of this year.

The On Board Unit, developed by NXP in collaboration with CPS Europe, contains the NXP ATOP chip. This chip contains a GPS receiver that gives, with optimal privacy, a determination of the vehicle’s location through wireless communication. Using the mobile GPRS network, it continually feeds the car’s location to an IBM system that calculates the route and cost data using an advanced back-office system. IBM relied on its worldwide experience in Road User Charging and Smart Traffic Systems in developing the system.

The system can easily be installed by the user. It guarantees that cars only operate based on the kilometre price unit because the chip is continually wirelessly linked to a unique device on the front windshield, which cannot be removed. The system meets all current European standards.

Cities everywhere are battling with stressed transportation networks -- the result of an increase in demand and an inability to build sufficient infrastructure to cope with these challenges. The problem is only getting worse as the number of mega-cites, those with more than five million people – are on the rise.

To counter this challenge, governments around the world are investing in new, smarter transportation systems. These intelligent transportation systems will help cities manage congestion, improve urban environmental conditions and increase economic competitiveness. IBM researchers and consultants have already built smarter traffic and transportation systems in Stockholm, Brisbane, Singapore, Dublin, London and other cities around the world, and the list is growing.


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