Mobility Lab Helsinki mapped best data sources for traffic planning

Artikkelikuva: Mobility Lab Helsinki mapped best data sources for traffic planning

Understanding traffic flows is one of the basic needs in traffic planning. Because the amount of available data expands constantly, it is increasingly important to select sources correctly and utilise the most applicable analytics tools to extract the correct information from the data. A pilot by the Mobility Lab Helsinki testbed for smart mobility increased insight on the opportunities of data sources utilised in traffic planning in Helsinki.

The Mobility Lab Helsinki project supports the testing of new smart mobility services and technologies in an urban environment. The project is coordinated by the City of Helsinki, and Forum Virium is participating in its execution.

A pilot by the project tested visual traffic data analysis solutions in autumn 2022. The pilot utilised a visual analytics platform by the Belgian and another Belgian company, Geo Mobility, arranged for data sets from September 2022 from TomTom, HERE and Google as test material for the pilot. In addition to these, the use of Telia’s mobile network data and the City of Helsinki’s own data sources were tested on the platform. 

The proof-of-concept found that the different data sets available for the Helsinki region are suitable for the versatile needs of traffic researchers and planners.

“Concrete pilots with businesses help us learn about new innovations and solutions that can support the development of the City’s own data capabilities, while providing businesses with valuable insight into customer needs,” says Project Manager Juho Kostiainen from the City of Helsinki.

Useful pilot for traffic needs in Helsinki

Use cases examined during the pilot included:

  • route analyses
  • travel time delays
  • cut-through traffic departure points and destinations and speeding
  • data source quality.

Based on the pilot, the examined data sources are well-suited to meet most of the typical needs that the City has in terms of traffic analysis. Based on practical experimentation, the comprehensive nature and quality of the data sets in the Helsinki region is sufficient and even surprisingly good. The material based on vehicle data enables analysis on a very precise level, whereas mobile network data can be used for gaining a macro-level understanding.

The analytics platform by offers a vast range of various functions and filtering options, which the user can use to examine individual sections of road and make versatile, but user-friendly, parallel comparisons of traffic flow in different times. Features like this can be very useful in assessing the effects of road works and other changes made to the road network before and after the changes.

On the left: TomTom’s traffic statistics data on the platform enables analysis of speeding, congestion and the amounts of traffic. In the middle: Aggregated mobile network data will enable analysis of the departure points and destinations of people visiting the Helsinki region. On the right: Copernicus’ air quality data and the platform enable the assessment of air emission impacts from transport and other sources. 

“The pilot with and Geomobility was an inspiring and eye-opening experience for us. Data is essential for transport planning and research. High-quality data allows us to have a better understanding of the traffic in Helsinki, which in turn helps us to find better solutions in transport planning,” Traffic Researcher Katja Moilanen from the City of Helsinki summarises and continues:

“I particularly liked the fact that the analytics tool allows the end user to explore different data sources and perform analyses whenever the need arises. I was also pleasantly surprised by the platform’s versatile features and how well it can potentially help with the very different data needs we often have in terms of traffic.”

Data source comparisons

The suitability of data sources to different needs was also assessed as part of the pilot. TomTom’s data was generally more suitable for most use cases compared to HERE and Google’s data sets, but more specific needs and use cases should be determined to select the best option.

“As an objective data provider, we emphasise the accuracy and objectivity of the data. This proof-of-concept gave us an opportunity to compare vehicle data sets from different data providers. We now know which data sets are most representative in the Helsinki region for different use cases, from cut-through traffic to speeding and from congestion to parking behaviour,” says Business Development Manager Michiel Van Hove from Geo Mobility.

“We now know which data sets are most representative in the Helsinki region for different use cases, from cut-through traffic to speeding and from congestion to parking behaviour.”

Michiel Van Hove, Geo Mobility

For companies, the pilot offered an opportunity to improve their knowledge of regional data sources and their coverage, quality and challenges as well as an opportunity to develop their customer insight by working together with the City of Helsinki.

“Cooperation with Helsinki, a leader in mobility and smart city innovations, is extremely beneficial for a technology company like The opportunity to observe our tool being used by the City’s analysts to tackle various traffic data challenges provided insights and input for our product development roadmap. It was impressive to see how the City was able to seamlessly integrate and analyse data from different sources on a single platform, including data from HERE, TomTom and Telia as well as its own data,” says Bart Adams, CTO of 

This article is adapted from Juho Kostiainen’s original article Testing the possibilities of visual analytics tools and mobility data sets provided information about their suitability for Helsinki’s needs.

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