New ‘smart’ traffic lights Groningen and Drenthe are on

On Friday 18 June, Groningen Bereikbaar and Regio Groningen-Assen, together with the municipality of Groningen and the provinces of Groningen and Drenthe, launched the new intelligent traffic control installations (iVRI). These smart traffic lights see, through apps, what kind and how much traffic is coming and adjust accordingly. The iVRIs were officially ‘turned on’ during a digital event. Alderman of the Municipality of Groningen, Philip Broeksma and Wilko Huyink, director of Groningen Bereikbaar, cycled with a special app through the green light of the traffic lights at the Damsterdiep and Europaweg intersection.

In Groningen and Drenthe, substantial investments are being made in roads, bridges, stations, rails and bicycle paths in order to be prepared for the future. In addition, the Groningen-Assen region is participating in the national Talking Traffic programme, which focuses on making better use of the existing infrastructure. In this, Groningen and Drenthe work together with other regions in the Netherlands, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and the business community. “Innovations are important because they offer us new choices and possibilities for carefree mobility. In addition, they ensure that we all organize the mobility system and society in a smarter way. These intelligent traffic lights are a good example of this“, said deputy of the province of Groningen Fleur Gräper-Van Koolwijk.

Advantages of the iVRI

The traffic lights communicate with vehicles through apps and thus adjust the green times of the lights, so that there is as little stopping as possible. “But it will soon be possible, for example, to choose to give heavy freight traffic the green light for a longer period of time. This not only prevents a lot of braking and acceleration and therefore delays, but also limits CO2 emissions and contributes to road safety and better air quality“, says Edwin Papjes, project manager at Groningen Bereikbaar. Apps are also available for cyclists, so they can get green light more often and faster. “Smart mobility is increasingly becoming part of the way we move around”, says Alderman Broeksma. “With the municipality’s mobility vision, we are focusing on the possibilities of smart and sustainable mobility for accessibility and quality of life. The iVRI offers opportunities for safe and efficient traffic flow. With this delivery, we are taking the first step towards this future.

Fifteen new traffic lights

Five of these iVRIs are located on the western ring road, seven around the Europaweg, one at the Hoendiep-Diamantlaan intersection in Groningen and two on the N372 near Roden and Peize. In the coming years, more traffic lights will be converted to this new form.

Building further together

The fact that the new traffic lights have been put into use does not mean that the project is ‘finished’. “The foundation is there”, says Edwin Papjes. “The house still has to be built and we are looking for co-builders. The intelligent traffic lights work and there are apps for road users. If more people start using the apps, we will be able to see more and more how the smart traffic lights handle all the data.” Cyclists can use the RingRing and Schwung apps. For motorists, the Flitsmeister app communicates with the new traffic lights. This way they can see how long the traffic light stays on red/green and when it changes color.

Security and privacy

Data is constantly being exchanged. In doing so, the protection of the personal data of the users has been carefully considered. “The smart traffic light only uses information about the number of vehicles in a certain place at a certain speed”, emphasizes Papjes. “It doesn’t need to know who you are.

Talking Traffic

iVRI is part of the national Talking Traffic programme initiated by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. “This fits within the accessibility objectives of the region”, says Betty de Boer, director of Regio Groningen-Assen. “This way we are on the road together, in an increasingly smarter and greener way.