Connected Car Data Enables Fast Hurricane Evacuation

  • October 21, 2020
  • William Payne

Connected car data is providing US states across the south east of the country with real time information to manage evacuations as the region enters the annual hurricane season. State departments of transport in the US states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia are now using a real-time traffic monitoring system to save lives and prevent panic on the region’s roads.

The new system has been developed by connected car data specialist Wejo, data platform Moonshadow Mobile, the University of Maryland CATT Lab, and the Eastern Transportation Coalition.

During an evacuation, one of the biggest problems for state traffic managers is how to avoid congestion on major escape routes. 

With the Moonshadow and Wejo live system, traffic management centres have access to information on speeds and congestion from hundreds of thousands of driving vehicles within minutes.  They can see when traffic is becoming congested and where they need to implement lane direction reversals to increase capacity. 

The system shows which alternate routes are still moving well and how traffic should be redirected.  By playing back movement over time, they also have a good idea when and where the public is evacuating for the approaching hurricane.   

Wejo collects data from over 18 million active vehicles in the United States with close to 100 percent road coverage.  Moonshadow receives 95% of the data from Wejo within 60 seconds of it leaving the vehicle and ingests it into Moonshadow Live Traffic, an online service based on Moonshadow’s DB4IoT connected vehicle database engine. 

The University of Maryland CATT Lab has created scaling factors that aggregate the street mapping data every 30 minutes for each day of the week for every road segment. Moonshadow will use the UMD scaling factors to estimate the total amount of traffic on each road segment at any point in time. 

When the Eastern Transportation Coalition became aware of this new technology they recruited seven of their member states to participate in a pilot. The result is an online system that shows speeds and volume estimates for the entire region within five minutes of real-time.

Traffic managers from all six states can access the system from a web browser whether they are in the Traffic Management Centre (TMC) or on the road.  The maps update automatically every few minutes to show the latest data.  Moonshadow Live Traffic is interactive and users can zoom in on any area to view the traffic situation in detail. 

Managers can also go back to any point in time in the last 24 hours to view the traffic conditions and even play back vehicle movement.  The Wejo data shows speed differences between lanes as well as where and how traffic is backing up.

“Real time volumes are the most important piece of missing data that agencies need today, especially when monitoring severe weather events such as hurricanes,” said Denise Markow, Director of the Eastern Transportation Coalition. “Currently, transportation agencies must rely on archived, historical data to make real time operational decisions. Data from vehicles is the future and the Coalition is committed to pushing the innovation barrier to bring agencies critical information especially when it comes to cross border movements.”

“In today’s transportation planning world, the problem has been turning the vast amounts of available connected vehicle and mobility data into useful information that helps planners and agencies make informed decisions,” said Eimar Boesjes, CEO of Moonshadow, “Our partnership with Wejo allows us to provide real-time data solutions to those in-need, to change the impact of future emergency situations on cities and the people that live in them.”