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Case Study
Clients: Various Road Traffic Management Companies

Design of visual language for road schematics makes software easier to use

The STREAMS Intelligent Transport Systems uses schematics created to the visual language we designed for the Monash Freeway upgrade. We produce most of those schematics using a three-stage process designed to make supply of data and review of progress easy. Having a consistent schematic design has helped make the STREAMS system easily identifiable and the people monitoring the roads can move from one schematic to the next without having to interpret a different visual language.

The problem

A new traffic congestion management system was being implemented for the Monash Freeway upgrade in 2010. The Intelligent Transport System that was being installed for the first time needed to include a schematic of the freeway being monitored. The software components representing the in-situ control devices would be placed on that schematic.

But no such schematic existed at the time.

The solution

Tools and templates. And a deep understanding of information design.

We designed a visual language to represent intersections and roads. It was obvious from the start that these schematics had to be consistent in design and use the same visual language from one schematic to the next. On the horizon was a three-level road and a tunnel so our visual language needed to extend to accommodate those features before they were required.

The schematics had to help the operators know where they are in the road, understand the physical road environment, and know what environment the driver is experiencing. The design of the schematic had to allow all of the software elements to be added to the road and intersections. And they have to fit into a long, oblong workboard so roads need to be straightened and at the same time maintain their geographical clues.

The visual language we designed is understandable without explanation. This reduces training time as new operators can learn to use the system without having to learn a new visual language in order to read the schematic. And the design reduces the fatigue associated with prolonged screen use.

We needed to build the schematics consistently, understand the extent of the software and be able to provide files that could be used in the monitoring software. The original schematic required both a design and technical solution with the technical limitations being pushed to their fullest extent by the design requirements.

Our road schematics are currently being used around Australia in the STREAMS Intelligent Transport System. And we continue to build schematics as sections of freeways have monitoring added.

To see all the schematics we have produced go to

A road schematic of Southern Link

The Southern Link schematic.

A section of the schematic of the Westgate Freeway

A section of the Westgate Freeway schematic showing Montague Street portals, freeway signage, gantries, road markings and secondary roads.

A schematic of a section of the Port of Brisbane Motorway

A section of the Port of Brisbane Motorway schematic showing landmarks, gantries, VMS locations, road markings and secondary roads.

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