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New app supports travel behaviour change.

The Valletta Local Council has recently launched the VaTIS smartphone app. The Valletta Travel Information System is an innovative information service for those travelling to and from Valletta.

The VaTIS project is a collaboration between the Valletta Local Council and the Institute for Climate Change and Sustainable Development at the University of Malta following the successful award of the first European Mobility Week Awards of 2015 to the Valletta Local Council.

The overall objective of the project was to develop software and a smartphone app to provide an interface for users to access traffic information. This is accompanied by a website (www.vatis.info) which also provides the information and supports travellers in their decisions about travel to and from the city.

The project team consisted of Prof. Maria Attard, Director of the Institute, designing and coordinating the project, Prof. Alexiei Dingli, mayor of Valletta but also supporting the development team, and Dylan Seychell and Aldrin Seychell working on the design and development of the app and website.

The technology behind the VaTIS smartphone app is connected with the local CVA system which uses an automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) system to detect vehicles at various points around the city. This is the first time that such information is being made public and available to travellers.

Real-time information to make better decisions and travel
in more sustainable ways

The Valletta Local Council manages and populates the road closure information through the website back-end, thus providing timely information to residents and visitors about works being undertaken in the City. It also has a versatile system architecture to allow for further expansion through other projects.

The app provides real time information about the traffic around the city but is also able to visualise the traffic patterns of the previous week.

While engaging with travellers through the provision of information, the user also contributes information about their journeys. This will further enhance the information base of the app and subsequently the services it can offer. Since the system uses real-time information it ensures a reliable delivery of information to users.

The website also features the information for those preparing their journey in and out of the city from their homes or offices.

Road closure information is displayed on the map with further information available on the nature of the road closure and the dates and times of closure. This type of information is also meant to help drivers avoid potential bottlenecks and reduce congestion in the city’s narrow streets.

These innovations in transport information are becoming increasingly important to counter the increasing levels of congestion in cities. Many urban areas are suffering from congestion and all have limited space resources to accommodate more traffic.

In addition to this, the negative impacts of traffic on the environment and public health are further encouraging authorities in many cities to try to reduce motorised traffic through the introduction of restrictive measures but also through the use of smart technologies that engage people and provide them with information about their travel.

With the increasing use of smartphones and ubiquitous internet access, travellers can benefit from real-time information to make better decisions and travel in more sustainable ways. In this manner, some researchers have identified the need for further capabilities of the road network, such as providing traffic information, as a counter measure to increasing capacities.

The app can be downloaded from Google Play Store and AppStore. The website can be accessed at www.vatis.info.

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