“The technology already exists and developments are taking place rapidly. Within the next five years, I believe that we are going to see geofencing in many places in Sweden,” says Maria Krafft, Traffic Safety Director at the Swedish Transport Administration.
She is responsible for a four-year research project which began at the start of 2019. Together with the automotive industry and the two largest cities in Sweden, the Swedish Transport Administration is driving a number of initiatives designed to speed up the introduction of geofencing.
In addition to contributing to improving the environment, safety and health, there are economic benefits to be attained.
Geofencing means creating a digital geographic zone in which connected vehicles can be controlled. It can be used, for example, to limit speeds near schools or control a vehicle so that it is driven on biodiesel or electricity. The technology can also determine which vehicles can be driven in a specific area.
According to Maria Krafft, geofencing can help create attractive, sustainable and safe towns and cities in which vehicles move in accordance with the population’s wishes.
“To achieve this, however, all the different parties – those that operate the transport, those that order it and those responsible for the roads – have to agree. In addition to contributing to improving the environment, safety and health, there are economic benefits to be attained,” she says.
Sweden is already at the forefront of geofencing and a number of pilot projects are in progress in different parts of the country. In Stockholm, tests are being conducted on goods transport to fast-food restaurants during the night, where the trucks run on electricity at a maximum speed of 45 kilometres an hour. In Gothenburg, the technology is being used on the Volvo buses operated by Keolis on routes 55 and 16 within the framework of the ElectriCity project. On some routes, the buses switch to electric operation and speeds are reduced.
The City of Gothenburg has been closely following these tests. “The results are excellent. We can see positive effects in the form of enhanced safety and the driver support is also impressive,” says Malin Andersson, Head of Department Urban Transport Administration, Gothenburg.
The City of Gothenburg’s vision is to be a role model when it comes to creating an attractive, sustainable city. Geofencing could play an important role in realising this objective.
“We are involved in this project to learn and see how a digitalised future can benefit us. One of the things we are examining is whether traffic regulations can be supplied digitally via the cloud and the advantages this might generate. We are also studying the potential to improve driver support on all the transport and vehicle fleets the city supplies,” adds Malin Andersson.
The results are excellent. We can see positive effects in the form of enhanced safety and the driver support is also impressive.
At present, geofencing is based on vehicles being controlled by software and different players collaborating. The project also examines the city’s digital processes to see how they can control or limit vehicles in different zones in the future.
Another important aspect involves studying the current legislation and identifying the legislative changes that are needed to enable geofencing to be introduced on a large scale and even to function globally.
“Our objective is to think big, in a scalable way. To help us act quickly, we have chosen to work on a small scale and make adjustments as the process continues. Right now, the most important thing is to learn from the pilots we are running and help more people understand the benefits. In Sweden, we are good at collaborating with different partners and I believe we have every chance of leading the way in this area,” says Maria Krafft.
A RESEARCH PARTNERSHIP
In 2017, the Swedish Transport Administration was tasked by the government with examining the potential for using geofencing in urban environments. This resulted in a demonstration showing what was feasible, together with a plan of action developed jointly by the Swedish Transport Administration, the City of Stockholm, the City of Gothenburg, Volvo Group, Scania, Volvo Cars and Veoneer.
This four-year research partnership was one of the proposals in the plan of action and it will continue until 2022.