Traffic jams are a common annoyance experienced by travels in both their cars and public transport. In the Netherlands, the most common choice of transportation for residents, commuters and tourists is public transportation. The Netherlands is a small country but very crowded. With more than 17 million people, that work, live and travel in the modest 41,500km2 traffic can be a big problem. No surprise, that Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) needed to find a solution to manage traffic flow and reduce people jams.

Use of Public Transport in the Netherlands

A big part of the Dutch population (around 7 million people) is concentrated in an urban area called the Randstad. This is a ring that is formed by the four largest cities in the country: Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, and Utrecht. The traveling in this area is daunting by both public transport or car.

The city of Amsterdam has always been a busy city. However, in the past few years, it has seen an influx of people traveling to and from the Dutch capital. This has resulted in traffic jams in the Randstad. With public transport being one of the most common choices of transport in the country, this area as also been affected. This has led to city managers to need more insight on how to manage these complex flows.

To enable a better insight in people jam and to tackle this problem. The Dutch railway company implemented tools to start monitoring and steering crowds in its stations which are connected to the wider traffic in cities. The switch from printed paper tickets to plastic chipcards for public transport in the country has opened many possibilities. This has enabled more ease in tracking people’s movements. Furthermore, the increase of mobile devices, lower-cost sensor technology and smart application of the IoT also helped in the development and feasibility of tracking possibilities.

The passenger monitoring possibilities go beyond only tracking people’s travel plans. With the use of smart monitoring, NS  also has insight on the movement of travelers in train stations. This consists of more than just the entrance points and platforms of the stations. The modern train stations in the Netherlands have check-in gates, hallways, and tunnels, that connect shortcuts, shops, snack bars, restaurants, and pubs.

Furthermore, all these attractions found at the stations translate into different kinds of travelers. Of which, each has their own optimal route. NS got this insight with an early project at a railway station in Leiden near The Hague. The company equipped the station with chip card possibility in 2007 before it was a mandatory travel requirement. This provided NS the possibility to get more insight on the movement of passengers at the station. In fact, they have discovered that Leiden Central as many other stations in the Netherlands was not just a destination for travelers. Instead, it can be considered a major interchange for people moving from one part of the city to another through the station’s pedestrian tunnel.

The Use of Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Infrared Sensors for Tracking People>

To make use of IoT and enable the creation of the Smart Station, NS partnered up with the Dutch engineering and consulting firm Royal HaskoningDHVand the Danish specialist Blip systems. For the introduction of the Smart Station concept, the partners made use of an advanced measuring system that was specially developed for the NS and its railway stations.>The Smart Station makes use of several ways of gauging traffic, crowdedness, and routes in NS public properties. By making use of a combination Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Infrared sensors map the location and movement of people going through the stations.

The use of infrared sensors helps with the initial count of people that are in the stations. Afterward, individuals are tracked by making use of a unique


The introduction of the Smart Station concept in the Netherlands can be a good improvement in the public transport field. The public transportation companies and the local governments are able to get more insight in traffic jams and find ways in which these can be improved. In fact, this can be seen as a smart city project as it enables the possibility to connect different channels. Furthermore, the use of IoT technologies and the Smart Station concept is of the advantage of the travelers. NS is able to have more information and see the areas in which their services need improvements.