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Reliable anonymization for traffic announcements

17 million kilometers – that’s the distance Salzburg’s drivers travel collectively every working day. Little wonder, then, that traffic frequently becomes congested: motorists spend an average of 30 hours a year stuck in traffic jams. That makes the state capital the second worst city for traffic jams in Austria. It comes right after the traffic jam champion Vienna, where it is 40 hours per motorist. The figures come from the “Global Traffic Scorecard,” a study carried out by the US traffic data specialists INRIX.

Reason enough to try to tackle the problem. The independent research institute, Salzburg Research, was asked by the state of Salzburg to look for a solution, and was funded by the country’s Climate and Energy Fund. The task was to present the current traffic situation down to the minute and also to use that to better plan and manage traffic. It developed a platform that calculates the current traffic situation and visualizes it on a road map.  Every road user can access the map online, for example via the StauFux app.

However, the data provides much more: Unlike Google Maps, which simply shows the users the traffic situation, the researchers provide the state’s data officials with the data. They can then use that information to better plan construction measures – such as, at which intersection a roundabout makes traffic flow better than a traffic light system. The platform’s technical basis: the Open Telekom Cloud.

Traffic news from the Open Telekom Cloud
Salzburg Research's platform shows the current traffic situation with GPS-Data. It's based in the Open Telekom Cloud.

Flexibility and scalability thanks to the cloud

“We needed a cloud solution for the platform,” says Karl Rehrl, head of mobile and web-based information systems at Salzburg Research. “And sufficient disk space because we wanted to store and analyze traffic data for long periods of time. The data comes from car fleets, which provide the research institute with information from the telematics systems on board their vehicles. “We are always looking for new fleet operators that would like to cooperate with us and in the future we want to extend the solution to all of Austria,” says Rehrl. “That was why, when choosing a cloud provider, it was also important to us that we could spontaneously add IT resources as required.” Every working day at peak hours 5,000 fleet vehicles send their anonymized GPS data to the Open Telekom Cloud. That is the equivalent of around 25 million GPS data points or 1.3 million kilometers that is stored and processed each day.


Motorists send anonymous GPS data to the cloud

It’s not just the fleet operators’ vehicles that are contributing to the project’s success. The city has sensors installed along the streets to count cars and send this information to the Open Telekom Cloud. “Another source of information is our StauFux app,” Rehrl says. “This allows each motorist to help build a better picture of the current traffic situation, by anonymously sending their travel data.” The app also runs in the Open Telekom Cloud.

Salzburg Research: StauFux-App
Don’t sit in traffic: Check the StauFux-App

Traffic jam predictions from the Open Telekom Cloud

It wasn’t just its flexibility or scalability that convinced Salzburg Research to chose Telekom’s cloud solution. “Our fleet partners and app users have a high requirement for data security and data protection due to the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR),” says Rehrl. “Apart from the complete anonymization of the data, the fact that the processing of the information takes place in Telekom’s high-security data centers was a compelling argument.”

The Austrians are continuing to develop the platform and so require a test environment that can be booked flexibly. For example, to test the new forecast function that the researchers want to embed in the platform in the future. “Then users will not only see the current traffic situation,” says Rehrl, “but in the future, with one glace at the map, they will be able to see where a traffic jam is likely to develop within the next few hours.”


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