Emergency vehicle approaching alert via UDAP

Several service providers in the Netherlands inform road users in good time about an approaching ambulance, fire brigade or police car so that they can anticipate it.

The Dutch ‘Urban Data Access Platform (UDAP)‘ has been exchanging this and other traffic data in the Netherlands for about 1.5 years. One of the main objectives of UDAP is to make Dutch roads increasingly safer. Warnings are not new in themselves, but more and more emergency services are sharing their location and destination so that other road users can be informed. There are also more and more navigation services and car manufacturers that include the information in their services.

Preventing startle and panic reactions

We like to drive in our safe cocoon, with or without music or passengers. Although we take in the traffic around us, we are often startled by the siren of an approaching emergency vehicle. Often because we only notice this when the vehicle is close by. Some drivers are paralysed or don’t know what to do. Therefore, road users must be informed well before an approaching emergency and emergency service. UDAP makes this possible by sharing relevant information via various service providers (and bringing it to road users via smartphone apps or onboard systems).

The information messages about approaching emergency services are called EVA messages, an abbreviation for ‘Emergency Vehicle Approaching’. By sharing these EVA messages, startle, and panic reactions are prevented. It gives road users more time to choose a suitable place for themselves so that the relevant emergency vehicle can pass safely. This allows the emergency services to arrive at their destination faster and safer, and when every second counts, it can be vital.

Data exchange via UDAP based on TLEX

Mark Walker, the responsible project manager at Monotch, explains, “In the meantime, around 1 billion messages are exchanged via the UDAP platform. About 60 road authorities are connected and more than 1200 smart roadside devices, including, for example, smart traffic lights and bollards. The platform works both ways; it shares information with road users and conversely reports the approach of road users to relevant smart infrastructure, such as the next traffic light. The information exchange takes place within a few milliseconds. In the case of the EVA messages, the road user receives information about the direction from which the emergency vehicle is approaching and the current distance to their vehicle. Based on this information (location and time), the EVA messages will only be sent to relevant road users, avoiding unnecessary distractions.”

The Netherlands is a frontrunner

Rolling out these messages via easily accessible apps from service providers is essential for an effect on road safety. At the beginning of July 2022, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management launched a collaboration with six companies. They did so under the heading Safety Priority Services to boost in-car warnings for potentially unsafe situations, including emergency services. Using UDAP, road users who use the services of these six companies will be informed in good time about approaching emergency vehicles, thus contributing to increasing road safety.

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