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Stadium: smarter transport management for global events

An innovative online tool has been developed to help cities meet the transport demands of large-scale events. Created through an international EU-funded project, the tool shows how integration of Intelligent Transport Systems can make a world of difference.

The EU-funded Stadium (Smart Transport Applications Designed for large events with Impacts on Urban Mobility) project was established in 2009 to examine ways of improving the performance of traffic management during and after major events. Completed in April 2013, the project also sought to deepen research co-operation between the EU and other countries in order to share knowledge and experience and open possible new business opportunities.

“Large events are demanding on cities, as this can mean thousands of additional transport users,” says Stadium project coordinator Maurizio Tomassini. “Special transport requirements often need to be coordinated with pre-existing transport systems.”

The Stadium projectexternal link examined whether integrating Intelligent Transport System (ITS) applications into existing traffic-management models could provide a solution. Demonstrations were carried out at three different sporting events: the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, the Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010 and the London Olympics in 2012. “We specifically sought to implement tailored ITS outside Europe,” says Tomassini. “In contrast, we also wanted to deploy applications in a technologically mature context, like London.”

Through the evaluation of these demonstrations, an online handbookexternal link has been developed to help guide cities when organising large events. This tool, which contains examples of best practices and a decision-support system, will enable traffic managers to select the most appropriate ITS application for them. “This handbook is the most important deliverable of the project,” says Tomassini. “It is a way of getting cities to adopt new technologies, and is creating opportunities for our partners to contribute to future projects.”

The benefits of international co-operation

The international aspect was crucial to the success of the project. “International co-operation is very important, given global transport trends,” says Patrick Mercier-Handisyde from DG Research’s Urban Mobility Sector. “We can learn from other countries. New competitors are emerging, but at the same time, new opportunities for collaboration are emerging as well. The Stadium project is a very good example of this.”

Each event presented a unique set of transport challenges. The Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010, for example, involved 17 sporting disciplines, six venue clusters and five standalone venues spread across the city. Within a defined area, buses and auto-rickshaws were equipped with GPS, with data fed to a centralised management centre.

“We wanted to show the benefits of integrating multi-modal information in order to help users plan their trip and to optimise routes,” explains Delhi demonstration coordinator Paolo Squillante. “We showed how ITS integration can be positive for passengers and operators. “Delhi is now running 4000 buses equipped with GPS, 90 bus stops have information displays installed and all auto-rickshaws now come with GPS. So, they are on their way.”

The South African demonstration focused on getting spectators to and from the Greenpoint stadium in Cape Town for FIFA 2012 World Cup matches. Unlike Delhi, this was a single location event. The project implemented a minibus shuttle service from a drop-off point in the city centre to the stadium. Some 19 vehicles were installed with tracking equipment, with data fed to a back office.

“We showed that existing transport can be complemented and integrated in a sustainable way,” says the Cape Town demonstration coordinator Monica Giannini. “We also found that the ITS system enabled drivers to work in a more relaxed way, as it helped them organise, manage and schedule. This had important consequences, as there had been concerns in the past about the erratic behaviour of minibus drivers.”

The third demonstration involved integrating ITS into London’s well-proven transport-management system for the 2012 Olympics. This was a truly massive undertaking; some 7.5 million ticketed spectators attended events spread over 29 venues.

“Our job is to keep traffic flowing smoothly, so we were interested in looking at ways of automatically detecting congestion,” explains Mark Cracknell from Transport for London. “We installed smart CCTV cameras at sites where the control centre had no visual capacity, which fed data into a central database.”

Cracknell says that the key to success was to work closely with operators, to identify useful indicators for congestion. “We found that a generic set-up was no good; each camera needed to be set up for each specific site,” he says. On evaluation, the ITS system was found to be a useful addition. It provided more timely alerts, which enabled operators to implement actions sooner.

Future applications

The handbook, drawn up from the experience of these three demonstrations, has already been put into practice. Curitiba, a Brazilian city which will host several FIFA 2014 World Cup matches, used this tool to identify potential ways of employing ITS. Public transport is well established in Curitiba – the city operates an extensive and complex bus service – so after careful analysis it was decided that a solution to enable more accurate passenger counting could help optimise services. This would also allow for the provision of real-time information to passengers. The city is currently examining the results of an ITS demonstration.

“The idea is to have closer co-operation with these parts of the world,” concludes Mercier-Handisyde. “We hope to follow up the Stadium project with technology take-up in these countries, in preparation for Horizon 2020external link (the new EU Framework Programme for research and innovation). The good relations fostered by the Stadium project will hopefully continue in the future.”