The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the Winter 2010 Olympics expects intense fluxes in pedestrian, transit, and private transportation traffic during ceremonies and events. And that’s why Karen Giese’s team at PTV America’s Vancouver, British Columbia, office was brought in.
They are creating a virtual environment that will help determine where peak traffic and bottlenecks will occur. Their work will help those in charge of planning and operating Olympic events ensure public safety.
After Giese’s team finishes the traffic crowding model, it will be turned over to the professionals that work for the City of Vancouver. The city has plans to use the model for traffic and event planning beyond the Olympics (see the related Tech trends article in this issue).
Predicting human traffic patterns
One aspect of the project involves using software called VISUM to model pedestrian crowding at Olympic venues. Before any pedestrians are added to the model, a network that is identical to downtown Vancouver had to be designed. The network includes plazas and walkways, as well as an NHL arena where Olympic hockey will be played, and a football stadium where the opening ceremonies will be held.
After the network was created, Giese and her team ran calibration tests, which add “people” to the network. To do this, data were collected from past events that measured peak traffic crowding during hockey games and concerts. This data gave Giese’s team a good idea about how many people would be on the streets during Olympic events.
People in the model are then assigned origin and destination points. When Giese’s team is ready to analyze traffic data, they can run a scenario to determine potential crowding concerns. In VISUM, the model doesn’t look like a simulated environment. The model looks like a 2D map. Routes and buildings are color coded, and red clusters represent congestion.
Overall, modeling pedestrian crowding took Geise’s team from September 2007 all the way through February 2008. Beginning in April 2008, her team began work on models for transit and private transportation crowding, which were recently completed.
Another project Giese has worked on while at PTV America includes system planning for Vancouver’s bus system, run by TransLink. Her team did research to figure out how to improve transit times, so that people riding buses can get to where they need to be with as few delays as possible.
For most projects, Giese and her associates use a traffic simulation software suite called Vision. The software is developed by PTV, which is a global company based in Germany. The company name, PTV, is an acronym for the German “Planung Transport Verkehr,” which loosely translates to “planning carrier traffic.”
Besides managing modeling and simulation projects at PTV’s office in Vancouver, Giese frequently travels throughout North America. She helps develop, promote, and provide support for PTV Vision. Her responsibilities include conducting seminars on different aspects of the software suite, based on the needs of her clients.