TRAFFIC EFFICIENCY & MOBILITY
Advanced Asset Management
FROM INSIDE THE BEEHIVE
Advanced Asset Management for Smart Infrastructures
José F Papí and Friederike L Kühl tell us about a new technology that is here to change the way city management is done
Tech SME Etelätär has developed BEEHIVE technology with the Smart City in mind. It collects different signals emitted by regular smartphones (such as Bluetooth Low Energy, WiFi or LoRa signals) and creates anonymised mobility patterns in cities or even in regions that are mountainous, densely populated or have a high precipitation (rain, hail or snow), under which conditions GPS signals are especially bad.
The BEEHIVE maps vehicle & people flows accurately at a low cost
The intelligence collected offers city authorities and traffic managers with important insights on real-time traffic statistics as well as on long-term city mobility patterns, helping shape the City of Tomorrow. The data collected from sensors is processed by a smart algorithm and then displayed on a real-time dashboard, which also conducts behaviour modelling through data analysis. Thresholds can be defined per area and an alarm is sent via messaging services once capacity limits are reached. The technology has been developed mainly for outdoor use cases and is gaining traction quickly due to its inexpensive, sustainable and flexible operational model.
Automatic for the people... and the vehicles
The BEEHIVE can deliver an automatic people and vehicle counting and tracking system, which is not only a fraction of the price of traditional counting systems based on cameras, but also easier to produce, install and maintain. Cities large and small need detailed information on the traffic flows and behaviours in their centres, but also in suburban neighbourhoods to keep track of commuting habits. From a city authorities’ perspective, information such as the origin, destination and duration of both trips and the dwelling of citizens in areas is key to make any city smart. What kind of information does the system collect? Only anonymous data such as MAC addresses that does not reveal any insight on the user behind the phone, are saved. In emergency situations, police or other officials can identify device models but not private identities with this MAC address.
The BEEHIVE can be used for different kinds of tasks, depending on the extent of data gathered:
BEEHIVE dashboard with thresholds and historical data
- Optimal operations (short-term) Counts people or vehicles per area, detects user flows, alerts in case of trespassing or surpassing capacity limits, AI-powered info points, and environmental and/or security monitoring.
- Adequate planning (long-term) Increases efficiency of facility use, informs CAPEX and OPEX decisions, allows for targeted proximity marketing.
City planners obtain important datapoints and customised business intelligence reports, highlighting long-term observations of all mobility patterns within the city. Since all of the information collected is anonymous, the BEEHIVE delivers a reasonable level of insight no other systems can compete with, and at a lower hassle. The actionable data reported also helps optimising maintenance schedules of city brigades, security management and the usage of city facilities from the very first week of deployment.
The smart way of stopping
Further, the promoters behind BEEHIVE are testing so-called Smart Stops, which can recognise vehicles or persons to discriminate them from other users positively – this can be useful to manage access to restricted areas, but also to make traffic flows more flexible and automatise important services. It is well-known that automatization lowers overall congestion and can provide passengers with a more comfortable public transport experience. With a denser sensor cloud per 1,000 sqm, the location accuracy provided by the BEEHIVE is suitable even for automated vehicles or robots, due to its small deviation error of only 60 centimetres – a huge difference to the usual 5-30 metres error of GPS signals. Together with accessible mobility applications like Apertum or Wheelmap, the system can detect users with special needs and activate specific features which are helpful for different kinds of disabilities.
Some of these include:
Indoor guidance using audio beacons to guide blind persons to station exits or other platforms/bus stops, removing the need for tactile pavements. For this, white canes are equipped with a small active beacon – once a blind person has indicated a trajectory they wish to follow, they are guided to the next train within a multi-level underground station. More easily, a mobile application can guide sighted persons of various mobility constraints around the station.
Automatised elevators, which are called without the need to press any buttons and stop at the right exit, which is not only more hygienic for blind persons (who currently need to feel for braille writing around the outside and inside of the elevator), but also for wheelchair users (for whom many elevators are too small to turn around in and which puts buttons in a non-accessible spot);
AI-powered virtual assistants, which communicate information via audio and provide voice-activated help. This can surpass the common next stop indicator and supply also more complex information (such as timetables, station maps or entire transport networks) on-demand in a discrete, yet detailed manner.
Automatic alerts for deaf or blind-deaf persons, vibration alerts of their smartphone or of an active beacon can offer orientation and direction. It can also warn them in case they head into the wrong direction or of dangerous situations.
The need for ultra-accuracy
The BEEHIVE has almost infinite application possibilities and can come into action anywhere, even where ultra-accurate geolocation is needed – ranging from protection of natural reserves to guidance of autonomous vehicles – and without the need of expensive sensor investments. Most of the current deployments focus on adventure and sports activities, though a strong case can be made for its future application in Smart Cities, traffic management and city planning, leading us to believe the solution might be here to change the way we manage and live our cities. Renowned institutions like Real Madrid Football Club in Spain, FIS-level Vallnord ski resort and UNESCO´s Madriu-Perafita-Claror natural park in Andorra, and the home of the best European sports facility according to ACES Europe, the Camilo Cano Sports City in La Nucía (also in Spain), are already customers of the BEEHIVE.
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