Traffic signs in the Netherlands now available online

A world first: with effect from 31 July, the Netherlands will be the first country in the world to provide a digital overview of its traffic signs. The details (including the indication code and the exact location) of each sign will be stored in a digital format and made available as open data. This is good news for road authorities, information service providers, and road users. Accurate and up-to-date in-car information on traffic signs will enhance road safety.

The digitisation and online publication of traffic sign data has been commissioned by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and the regional authorities. The details to be provided for each sign include the image on the sign, the indication code, and the exact location of the sign. The data collected will be made available via the National Data Warehouse for Traffic Information (NDW) as open data, for example, to information service providers and to road authorities. Processing such data into traffic apps or navigation systems will provide road users with up-to-date information on the traffic situation on their route. The Netherlands is the first country in the world to provide such a digital overview of traffic signs. Initially, the overview will comprise data regarding all the signs along provincial roads, along motorways, and in the 130 largest municipalities of our country. After the summer, the signs in all the smaller municipalities will be incorporated.

HR Groep

The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management has commissioned HR Groep, specialist in (traffic) objects in public space, to collect the required data on virtually all the traffic signs along and over all the roads in the Netherlands. HR Groep will keep such data up-to-date for the two years ahead, with the possibility of an extension. The data set will be available to any interested party as a basic service, free of charge, via the NDW website.

To road management bodies, such an up-to-date database will entail a substantial simplification in traffic sign management. Furthermore, use of the app that has been developed to this end will enable fast and efficient processing of data regarding temporary signs (such as pertaining to roadworks or events) and of any adjustments to the pool of traffic signs.

Road safety

Until recently, for many traffic signs, information regarding their exact location, placement alongside or over the road, the exact message, and its scope was far from complete. For information service providers and suppliers of navigation equipment, however, such data are vital to enable optimum information provision to road users: on current speed limits, parking facilities, or loading and unloading bays, but also on overtaking prohibitions, narrowing, et cetera. The up-to-the-minute accuracy of such information can help to boost road safety.

More efficient road management

The data from the up-to-date digital file will enable road managing bodies to organise their traffic sign management and maintenance much more efficiently. The aforementioned app enables the data on any new or temporary sign to be included in the national database rapidly and easily. Data on modified or removed signs will be adjusted in the national traffic sign database. Amendment of data using the app is properly secured, inter alia, through the use of authorisation codes, thus protecting the safety of the data.