To create this visualization, our Data Visualization Lab took a deep-dive into the open data of the National Data Warehouse for Traffic Information (NDW).
With this visualization, we aim to give you a clear idea what the impact is on traffic flows on the highways in the Netherlands:
“Here, each ball represents a sensor, and the color indicates how many cars per hour have passed these sensors on the highway. Dark blue indicates low traffic intensity, whereas yellow means the roads are busy. Because there are many sensors close to each other, and having all those dots together, the visualization resembles a caterpillar.”
Data Visualization Engineer
Effects on traffic intensity
Let’s zoom in on our selected dates: as you can see a month before the intelligent lockdown was communicated, on February 11th, a fairly regular traffic intensity is visible. However, on March 17th, the first Tuesday after the measures were announced, we see traffic intensity dropping greatly.
NWD indicates that throughout the intelligent lockdown period, this decline appear to be fairly evenly distributed across the country, although it is found to be stronger on the main highways such as the A2 motorway (from Amsterdam to Eindhoven) and A12 (Utrecht to Wageningen, Ede, Rhenen and Veenendaal).
Furthermore, if you look at the development of the traffic intensity during the day, the decrease is not spread evenly throughout the day. The decreases are particularly visible for morning rush hour – up to 50% less traffic is found.
Rush hour come-back
Starting from Monday May 11th, the Netherlands took its first tentative steps towards loosening COVID-19 lockdown. The day after, May 12th, it is already visible that the “Ring” highway around Amsterdam is slowly but surely starting to fill up again.
NDW traffic is found to be increasing in the period between the morning rush hour and the evening rush hour (9.00 am – 5.00 pm) – especially in the east and southwest of the country. Hence, it is not as busy as before, but the increase in car traffic is undeniable.
NDW open data
Why does NDW report on percentages instead of absolute numbers? Adding up all traffic intensities over multiple locations doesn't make much sense: from a traffic engineering point of view, that doesn't provide any information. Therefore, this visualization also does not show absolute numbers. Instead, low traffic intensity is indicted by a light blue color, whereas yellow means the roads are busy.
“Indicating absolute numbers on traffic movements is difficult: when a car is driving fast, it is counted by several sensors. Adding up all sensor values therefore gives an unreliable number.”
Data Visualization Engineer
Furthermore, the sensors register the different lengths of vehicles driving by (i.e. short, medium, long). This way you could distinguish how many passenger cars, vans, trucks travel by per hour. However, in this visualization all data is piled up, so no distinction has been made between the types of vehicles.
Urban solutions based on data
We believe in the strong visual aspect of representing data graphically in data visualizations. Our Data Visualization Lab develops state-of-the-art technology for the visualization and sense-making of social urban data. In turn, data becomes more accessible, understandable and actionable. Curious what else we focus on?
This visualization will give you a glimpse of how the city wakes up. The data visualization shows how and by whom the city is kept clean and safe - by cleaning, maintenance activities and solving complaints. An enormous daily operation. The visualization below is made in collaboration with the CTO Tech Team of the City of Amsterdam and our Data Visualization Lab.
Also, the Social Distancing Dashboard, a project led by TU Delft’s Faculty of Industrial Design’s Assistant Professor and Research Fellow at AMS Institute, Dr. Achilleas Psyllidis, helps to raise awareness about constraints posed by the design of public space when trying to keep a 1.5m distance and contributes to decision making for COVID-19 related interventions in urban planning.