Smart Routing Advice in the Amsterdam Region

Context of Transport Climate Action

The next generation of travel information services is being developed to manage the departure time and route choices of car drivers. One of the latest innovations is the development of a new navigation algorithm called Smart Routing. Smart Routing is based on two principles: being proactive and being refined (more specific for the users).

Proactive implies that the information is designed in such a way that it affects the behavioural choices of road users preferably before congestion occurs. In order to make optimal route choices, information about the traffic situation at the moment of departure is often not helpful. This is because it takes time to drive to the point where a route choice becomes relevant. At that point in time, the traffic situation could very well be changed. Hence, a prediction of the traffic situation is much smarter. This prediction even includes weather forecasts.

Furthermore, traffic information needs to be refined, which implies that it is suited for the specific nature of the trip and severity of the traffic jams and aligning this with the needs of individual road users. Smart Routing provides individual car drivers with travel advice that is tailed to their personal preferences and refined based on previous travel advices. For example, people that are open for trying new routes are more often advised to take alternatives than people with a more conservative attitude.

The largest effects of Smart Routing are expected during large-scale disruptions such as traffic incidents and bad weather.



The main idea of Smart Routing is that route advice is based on traffic forecasts. This means that expected congestion is included in the travel advice. Furthermore, Smart Routing spreads traffic more evenly over the network by not only taking into account the expected travel time, but also routing based on the expected increase in traffic volumes. As a result, traffic is distributed over all comparable routes. The innovation compared to the routing principles included in navigation systems is that a wider set of routes is taken into account. Not only the shortest route is considered, but also a set of alternatives with comparable travel times. The travel times of the alternatives may not be much higher (say about one minute) than the fastest route so it will remain acceptable to the road users (individual interest). Especially in cities, there are often many different alternatives available. By spreading the traffic over all alternative routes, all road users are better off (collective optimum).

Besides information from roadside sources, also Floating Car Data is used and data from additional sources such as incidents, road works, bridge openings, tunnel closures, control scenarios during major events compiled by the traffic control centers and weather forecasts (via the Dutch ‘app’ Buienradar) is also included in the travel time predictions.


Smart Routing is developed and tested in public-private partnerships. The concept was initially designed in a Dutch research project: Sensor City Mobility. The concept was then translated and implemented in a travel information app in the Practical Trail Amsterdam. The Practical Trial Amsterdam (Praktijkproef Amsterdam or PPA) is a large-scale trial designed to reduce traffic jams in the Amsterdam region through the latest innovative use of technologies in cars and on the road.

In 2014, a major trial of roadside systems took place on the ring road in Amsterdam. In 2015, a major trial of in-car systems is taking place. Over sixty thousand participants are receiving highly up-to-date and personalised travel information from an app in their cars. In 2015 and 2016, three new trials will test the first combination of roadside systems and in-car systems.

The Practical Trial Amsterdam is an initiative of the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. Rijkswaterstaat, the municipality of Amsterdam, the province of North Holland and the Amsterdam Metropolitan Region will carry out the test together, in collaboration with various universities and companies.

Two consortia participate in the development and testing of in-car systems. One of these consortia, named ‘Amsterdam On the Road ’ (Amsterdam Onderweg) consists of TNO a Dutch research organization and ARS Traffic & Transport Technology. Two personalized travel information apps are developed: one for commute traffic ‘Super route’ and one for events ‘Super ticket’. Both apps include the Smart Routing algorithm.



Smart Routing aims to better utilize the road network. In busy road networks diverting a small amount of road traffic to alternative routes can make the difference between congestion and throughput. Smart Routing can also be used to for multi criteria traffic management where both throughput and environmental criteria are taken into account and traffic is routed such that environmental vulnerable roads (for example with high levels of emissions) are avoided.

Research has shown that traffic jams in cities are an important cause of emissions. Hence, preventing bottlenecks and traffic jams has positive environmental effects.

Potential for scaling up

Smart Routing is an effective measure to better utilize the capacity of road network. As this measure has been extensively tested in the Practical Trial Amsterdam, the next step is to improve the concept using the evaluation results. There are also ample opportunities to extent the concept such as:

  • Apply the smart routing concept on a larger road network. So far the concept is applied to the road network in Amsterdam. However, route choices for highway driving could also benefit from the smart routing concept.
  • Combine smart routing advice with parking advice not only for events but for all trips that include parking. This will result in less search traffic in cities, improving accessibility, liveability and traffic safety.
  • Further refine the smart routing advice for different user groups. Especially the extension towards freight traffic and city logistics seems an interesting opportunity.

Selected references



Europe, The Netherlands, Amsterdam region






Europe, Passenger transport Travel information, Apps, Road, route advicenership, Awareness


Rijkswaterstaat, ARS Traffic & Transport Technology, TNO


Maaike Snelder,

Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment Melanie Schultz van Haegen:
“Intensive cooperation of several governments, knowledge institutes and industry is required to develop the latest techniques and to test these in practice. We investigate whether the combination of innovative roadside and in-car applications result in a better and cheaper approach for traffic management. The Netherlands has all the capabilities to become an international leader in this field.”