ProTrain project started for Berlin-Brandenburg:

Big Data optimises regional traffic

Credits: Gettyimages, Jordan Siemens | Montage
People moving to major cities like Berlin is putting urban transport under growing pressure. To optimise transport planning, city councils and transport operators need precise data. With this in mind, eight project partners including Telefónica NEXT have joined forces in the ProTrain project to optimise local public transport in Berlin-Brandenburg, using numerous data sources. As a subsidiary of Telefónica Deutschland, Telefónica NEXT is contributing findings from the analysis of anonymised mobile network data. ProTrain is a three-year project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. Passenger numbers in public transport reach new record heights each year. Rising population numbers and increasing commuter traffic, for example in the Berlin metropolitan area, have brought the capacities in regional traffic to its limits, especially during peak times. At the same time, passengers have rising expectations. They want extensive information, comfort and individual services.
Project partners: Telefónica Germany NEXT GmbH, DB Regio AG (Regio Nordost), the German Aerospace Centre (Institute of Transportation Systems), BLINC GmbH, Berlin-Brandenburg Transport Association (VBB), HaCon Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH, IVU Traffic Technologies AG, GmbH

Improving local public transport for travellers in the Berlin-Brandenburg region

The eight project partners involved in ProTrain in Berlin aim to allocate rail passengers more effectively on the basis of big data analyses in order to make optimum use of available rail transport capacity. The information is intended to enable transport operators to determine the actual as well as the expected demand in more detail so that they can respond proactively. In turn, travellers are to receive information on alternative connections or railcars with vacant seats in real time. The project team regards mobility in Berlin and Brandenburg as a useful model. The routes RE3 (Lutherstadt Wittenberg – Berlin – Stralsund/Schwendt) and RE5 (Wünsdorf –Waldstadt – Berlin – Rostock/Stralsund) are representative, as they cover commuter links between Berlin and Brandenburg as well as tourist routes to the Baltic. Photo: pixabay / 3dman_eu

Anonymised mobile network data maps travel routes

Whether by bus or by bicycle, Telefónica NEXT calculates movements in mobile network cell sites using anonymised mobile network data from Telefónica Germany’s network
ProTrain uses the potential of large volumes of existing data to perform transport analyses. Telefónica NEXT, the Telefónica Deutschland subsidiary focused on data driven business models, manages the analysis of anonymised mobile network data. This data is generated during Telefónica Deutschland’s normal operations when mobile phones communicate with mobile cell sites while using the internet or making calls, for instance. Telefónica NEXT anonymises this data via a three-level TÜV-certified process, and all personal data is removed. Movement flows for various passenger groups at different times of day are subsequently calculated on the basis of this data. “Our anonymised mobile network data gives the project important information on where many journeys begin and end. Consequently, the data maps which travel routes are most in demand from start to finish – even if there is no railway link there yet”, says Dr Nicolaus Gollwitzer, CEO of Telefónica NEXT, explaining his company's contribution to the project. The mobile network data is combined with further datasets of the project partners. These comprise historic and current data on passenger numbers per railcar, information on rail operations, effects of weather and current events. In the context of the project, ProTrain will analyse and predict demand in accordance with these factors. The research is also geared towards developing suitable communication channels for passengers. The information provided via app or directly on the platform is intended to enable travellers to avoid full trains, for instance. Smart analysis of large volumes of data will allow providers in local and regional transport to optimise their planning and handling of passenger volumes, especially at peak times.

Government funding for ProTrain

The project has a three-year lifespan. The German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure is funding the project as part of mFUND, its programme for mobility ideas. After successful completion, the project results are to be transferred to further regions in Germany. Telefónica NEXT's anonymised mobile network data has already been used successfully in projects on transport planning by the Fraunhofer Institute Industrial Engineering (IAO) and on measurement of air quality in Nuremberg.