QMIC Launches the Qatar Traffic Report for 2020: Visible COVID-19 Impact

QMIC Launches the Qatar Traffic Report for 2020: Visible COVID-19 Impact

23 March 2021

  • Significant Reduction in Congestion Levels due to COVID-19 & Completion of Key Road Projects
  • Hours Lost in Congestion dropped by 60% compared to 2019
  • Productivity cost of congestion reduced by QR 3.6B compared to 2019

Using its Advanced Traffic Monitoring & Analytics Platform and utilizing its unique and rich bank of traffic data in Qatar which contained more than 4.7 Billion data records, the Qatar Mobility Innovations Center (QMIC) announced key results of its 6th annual Qatar Traffic Report (QTR) for year 2020.

In its 6th edition, the report analyzes the status and conditions of traffic in Qatar during the year 2020 and takes a closer look at the impact of COVID-19 lockdown and restrictions on the movement and traveling of road users in Qatar, while comparing the results against previous years. Over the past few editions, QMIC has been steadily building a rich bank of traffic data and information about the trends and patterns in road network, and infrastructure development and its impact on road usage and congestion. In 2020, the amount of data added to the QMIC mobility data bank increased by 300% compared to the amount of data added in 2019 thanks, in part, to the deployment of the new 3rd generation of QMIC’s WaveTrafTM traffic sensing devices. The accumulated rich traffic data bank over the last years will undoubtedly prove to be an extremely crucial tool in preparation for Qatar 2022 and beyond.

On the release of the 6th edition of the QTR report, Mr. Omar Mohammed Al-Jaber, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Outreach said “This year’s report is especially important as it provides important insight into changes in traffic trends under extraordinary circumstances caused by COVID-19 and shows the progress made by Ashghal in enhancing the road network in Qatar. It can provide a very useful understanding to decision makers about the type of actions, preparations, and regulations needed during crises. In addition to having an overview of traffic behavior during special conditions, the information provided could greatly improve daily transport operations, support cost-cutting practices, uphold safety standards particularly for stakeholders in the fields of transportation, road safety, smart cities, urban planning.”

Examples of the outcomes and insights which the report includes are assessing the impact of road/infrastructure projects on traffic overtime; monitoring changes in congestion levels across Qatar; identifying problematic congestion areas in specific times/days; quantifying the economic and environmental impact of road congestion; comparing the traffic trends from year to year; and assessing improvements made in Doha traffic compared to those made in major cities in the region

Dr. Fethi Filali, Director of Technology & Research at QMIC and who led the QTR team commented by saying, “QTR takes into consideration a number of key globally accepted metrics to report on the severity, time, and locations of traffic congestion in Qatar. In order to gauge traffic conditions for year 2020 in a scientific, methodical and accurate way, the QTR uses the concept of Congestion Index (indicates average reduction in speed due to congestion) to assess the level of traffic flow. In addition, using publicly available statistics about the size of the work force and average wages in Qatar together with QMIC’s mobility and congestion data, QMIC has built a model to quantify the economic impact of traffic congestion in Qatar. Thanks to the close collaboration with key national partners, QMIC is continuously expanding its traffic data sources by developing, testing, and deploying made-in-Qatar Artificial Intelligence-powered traffic sensors.”

Thanks to QMIC’s expanding and unique multi-source data collection network, which collected over 4.7 Billion records of data throughout the year, a 300% increase from the year before. The following key findings for 2020 QTR are revealed:

1. The average number of extra hours spent due to congestion is 38 hours per commuter in 2020 (this is less 60% less than the 92 hours in 2019). Most the congestion was recorded in the first and last quarters of 2020.

2. Congestion level in all of 2020 was 37% below than that of 2019. However, during the peak of the COVID-19 restrictions in April-September, the level of congestion was 60% less than 2019.

3. COVID-19 restrictions resulted in a more uniform distribution of hourly daily trips throughout the day and reduced the commuters’ average daily traveled distance in 2020.

4. The economic cost (lost productivity) of congestion in 2020 is estimated to be 2.4 – 2.9 billion QR. This translates to a loss of about 0.5% of the GDP in 2020. Compared to the economic loss in 2019, this represents a significant reduction of QR 3.6B.

5. The pre-COVID-19 months of January, February, March 2020 were the most congested months in the year with February having the highest Congestion Index of 26.5%

6. The highest congestion period during the workdays is the evening peak (around 6-7pm) during which the average congestion index is 21.3%

7. In the morning peak hours of workdays, Sunday had the highest congestion index of ~ 21% and Tuesday had the lowest congestion index of ~20%

Throughout the previous years, QMIC’s QTR has been considered a national traffic index and a score card for the state of traffic in Qatar. This is a highly desirable output for any country or region as similar processes are used to measure and calibrate the road network as well as helping stakeholders and decision makers in taking the best possible steps and implementing the right traffic policies and procedures. This in turn would contribute to better urban planning and result in the improvement of traffic conditions as the population continues to grow.

The QTR is one of the key outputs of the only local and comprehensive mobility data platform which was fully developed and deployed by QMIC. It represents a comprehensive platform and integrated suite of services serving the areas of Intelligent Transport, Road Safety, and Smart Logistics/Telematics. In addition to its analytics platform, proprietary technologies, and up-to-date GIS layers, it has its own sophisticated multi-source data collection network consisting of: a large fixed sensing network using QMIC’s WaveTrafTM road traffic road sensors, thousands of Telematics devices installed in fleet vehicles, and crowd-sourced data being contributed by thousands of Wain mobile application users.

QMIC is continuously working towards expanding its data collection network in order to further enhance the accuracy, coverage, and abilities of its traffic information platform. QMIC has already achieved its target to raise data collection by 300% in 2020 and is now looking towards further enhancements and diversification in its data sources.