Apps like Flitsmeister will give you green faster in Flanders

Traffic lights in Flanders will become a lot smarter if it is up to the ministry. With the help of the Flitsmeister app, for example, you don’t have to wait as long for the red traffic light.

Smart traffic lights in Belgium

The Agency for Roads and Traffic is working on an innovative system to make traffic lights more intelligent by means of traffic apps. The VRT writes about this. With this new concept, road users can get green faster at traffic lights, which can reduce unnecessary waiting times. The system takes into account the traffic density at specific times, so that road users do not have to wait unnecessarily at a red light when there is little traffic from other directions. This initiative of the Flemish government is aimed at improving traffic flow and reducing traffic congestion.

To use this system, you must download a traffic app such as Flitsmeister or Karta GPS and give permission to use your location data. Currently, these are the two apps available, but the government is in talks with major players like Google Maps and Waze to partner with them as well. Initially, there is cooperation with smaller app developers, because the market in Flanders is still relatively small for large international players such as Google.

When you approach an intersection equipped with smart traffic lights, a signal is sent via the traffic app and the cloud to a central computer that controls the traffic lights. This takes into account various factors. For example, if you’re coming from a side street while the main road is mostly green at night, you can get a green light right away through the app, provided there’s no traffic on the main road at the time.

The Flemish Agency for Roads and Traffic is responsible for more than 1,700 traffic light intersections. Over the next two years, they want to equip 250 of these intersections with intelligent traffic lights. More will follow in the future. It is important to note that while some smart traffic lights are already operational, the traffic apps will not be fully operational for several months.

How exactly does this system work? “Some traffic lights are connected to the internet, so they continuously send data to a computer that can also receive wireless data from smartphones,” explains Wim Vandenberghe, an expert at the research institute Imec that collaborates with the AWV. App developers can pull this data from the cloud and show it to users on their smartphones or the built-in screen in their vehicles. This allows you to see well in advance whether the traffic light is green or red, and within a few months you will even be able to see how long you have to wait for the light to turn green.

In time, the functionality should also work for cyclists.

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