Jim Stembridge and Melissa Craig

A Romantic Marriage of Convenient Transports

It is now widely accepted that just building more roads is not the answer to ever increasing car ownership. Means have to be found to manage the existing road network better and promote alternative means of transport.

The ROMANSE (ROad MANagement System for Europe) project is based in Southampton and is supported by the European Commission's DRIVE research and development programme, with the aim of addressing these problems.

A key aspect of the project is the provision of accurate traffic and travel information, so that people can decide when and how they travel. ArcInfo is being used to display integrated traffic and travel information in a variety of innovative ways.

A joint initiative between Hampshire County Council and |Esri (UK) is employing the latest software products such as ArcView 3, MapObjects, Spatial Database Engine (SDE) and server technology. This paper describes progress, the technology employed and will visually demonstrate some of the results thus far.


Traffic and travel in every European country continues to rise. Apart from environmental and ecological factors, it is now well accepted that just building more roads is not the answer. The existing infrastructure needs to be managed better and alternative methods of transport explored.

One aspect of this is the provision of accurate traffic and travel information, so that people can decide when and how they travel and can be kept informed of the state of the transport network.

The European Commission's DRIVE initiative, is a research and development programme to address these problems through the implementation of Advanced Transport Telematics (ATT), within demonstration projects. The ROMANSE (ROad MANagement System for Europe) project first started in 1992 as part of this initiative. It represented the British consortium of a larger European based project known as SCOPE that included the port cities of Cologne, Piraeus and Southampton.

Within the UK ROMANSE is one of the most advanced projects of its kind, and last year was one of the medallists in the British Computer Society Awards 1995 for Innovative IT projects. Late in 1995 this was recognised at a European level, by further European and Department of Transport funding being granted to build on the established base by extending ROMANSE facilities to carry out further developments.

ROMANSE2 started in January 1996 and is part of the EUROSCOPE project that includes other city based projects in Cologne, Piraeus, Rotterdam, Strasbourg, Genoa, Hamburg, Cork and the Land Brandenburg (Berlin). Each city is carrying out common and complementary elements coordinated under the EUROSCOPE banner, and include the sharing of ideas and results.

The project aims to demonstrate how traffic, travel and transport information can be integrated and subsequently disseminated to the benefit of all transport users.

As part of this project Hampshire County Council and Esri (UK) are involved in a joint initiative employing the latest software products such as: ArcView 3,.Spatial Database Engine(SDE), Map Objects and server technology. Esri's ArcInfo played a key role in the original project and both parties wished to continue the successful partnership.

This paper describes progress, the technology employed and will visually demonstrate some of the results thus far.

About the Project

The ROMANSE project is based in Southampton where a Traffic and Travel Information Centre (TTIC) has been established, which collates data on the local transport situation gathered from a variety of sources. The TTIC covers a wide area in and around Southampton including all major routes in and out of the city. The project is using Esri products to display integrated traffic and travel information in a variety of innovative ways within the centre.

Figure 1 ROMANSE display

Click here for High Resolution display

The TTIC is in daily operation running and coordinating data from the various systems. These include:

Most of these systems and their relevant equipment are specialist products, and are not designed for integration. They use different file formats and are accessed via a variety of different interfaces that cannot necessarily be run from a single computer screen.

A Strategic Information System (SIS) is seen as a key element in the collection, display and provision of traffic and travel information. The current (SIS) maintains a graphical database and provides a window on the traffic and travel world, using data from many of the systems listed above displayed via a common interface with ArcInfo.

Data is accessed dynamically from a central ORACLE database maintained by the surrounding traffic control systems. It is used for both display and in data analysis, for example routing where real-time traffic flow information can be used to more accurately define shortest drive time through the city.

Public perception and awareness of road traffic and travel problems has grown in recent years, and as such the need to provide better information. ROMANSE1 proved it was quite feasible to integrate traffic and travel information from a variety of sources and then display both static and real time data using ArcInfo.

ROMANSE2 will test the feasibility of providing this travel information to the public, through general broadcasts, via a telephone enquiry service, public access terminals, and the INTERNET.

ROMANSE2 SIS/GIS Developments

The ROMANSE2 SIS team and Esri (UK) are testing out a number of different ideas and new technologies over the next few months.

* In the last few years the INTERNET is being used more and more by commercial companies and is becoming an accepted technology. How far this will continue is open to debate, but already a number of World Wide Web (WWW) sites are offering real-time traffic information on the INTERNET.

Within ROMANSE it is proposed to create an INTERNET query interface that can interrogate the dynamic databases within the TTIC, showing the current state of the road network and fullness of car parks etc. MapObjects and potentially SDE will be used with standard INTERNET products to provide an enhanced interface.

* Within the current ROMANSE TTIC ArcInfo has been used extensively to provide maintenance, interrogation and display facilities. Within ROMANSE2 it is proposed that ArcView 3 will be used as a replacement to provide all display and interrogation facilities via PC based hardware. The interface will include all the existing functionality of the SIS such as real-time traffic flows and car park data and include new features such as dynamic bus locations and enhanced pan/zoom facilities. It is also an intention to show how ArcView 3 can be used remotely to access centrally held data. As a result it is anticipated that AVENUE will be extensively used to tailor views as appropriate.

* Within the TTIC the large number of systems has resulted in many separate pieces of equipment being installed. With the use of ArcView 3 comes the opportunity to standardise on WINDOWS based products, and thus provide an integrated common Graphics User Interface (GUI) making calls to other products as required.

* The key requirement of the above is the development of generic interfaces that sit between the data and output display facilities. It is anticipated that as a result a number of ArcView 3 based application software modules will be built. These generic interfaces will be proposed as standards for the exchange and display of traffic and transport information.

This approach has the following advantages:

i) only a few interfaces need to be defined to meet a number of functional requirements

ii) once an interface has been defined it can be used across the ROMANSE2 project, and elsewhere by other cities within EUROSCOPE

iii) by defining interface and exchange standards this separates the development of traffic and transport systems from GIS software developments, and allows different products to be used on input and output, provided they conform to the data interface

iv) it also allows graphics modules to be constructed that allow ROMANSE systems to be used with or without a graphics interface, and combinations of each where appropriate


The ArcInfo based ROMANSE1 SIS, has demonstrated the benefits and power of integrating information that can unlock a whole range of previously unexplored possibilities.

ROMANSE2 will test the feasibility of providing traffic and travel information to the public in innovative ways using the latest products from Esri.

It is very difficult to evaluate the overall benefits of this kind of approach. The technical efficiency of the individual applications can be tested, but this does not necessarily equate to improved traffic management or travel information. Individually the systems have a very small effect, but combined influences can make a considerable difference.

The need for the exchange of pan-European urban and inter-urban traffic and travel information is vital as travel in and around Europe increases. The European DRIVE programme has encouraged multinational cooperation with a view to developing compatible systems. In this way transport systems in the future can provide the travelling public with sufficient and timely information to make a decision as to when and how they travel, wherever they may be in Europe.

Jim Stembridge
Projects Manager
Surveyor's Department
Hampshire County Council
The Castle
SO23 8UD

Telephone: 01962 847531
Fax: 01962 847055
email: surzjs@hants.gov.uk Winchester S023 8UD

Melissa Craig
Esri (UK)

Telephone: 01923 210450
Fax: 01923 210739