SmartSensor HD’s accurate and portable vehicle detections helped Heathrow officials monitor and direct traffic throughout one of the largest construction projects in modern history.

Project Team

Mobile Traffic Solutions, UK

Project Scope

In 2008, London’s Heathrow Airport embarked on a huge construction and renovation project as part of the massive preparation efforts for the 2012 Summer Olympics. The project, which at the time was the largest construction project in Europe, commenced with the completion of Terminal Five, and included the demolition and rebuild of Terminals One and Two. Airport officials needed a reliable and portable way to monitor traffic, and the accurate data required to help drivers navigate the enormous project.

Problems and Challenges

Work zones combined with stringent security regulations and a new terminal posed a potential traffic nightmare. Terminal Five sees a lot of daily traffic and handles all domestic and international flights for British Airways. It was vital that airport authorities were able to keep traffic moving. “Traditional traffic detection methods simply weren’t up to the task. In the past, Heathrow used loops primarily to collect traffic flow data, but loops aren’t particularly mobile, and because the roads themselves are constantly changing, loops embedded in the road have been ineffectual,” said Peter Diamant, former sales director at MTS.


MTS specializes in portable ITS trailers like the T-25, a multi-application trailer designed for rapid deployment and easy mobility. MTS parked T-25 trailers equipped with SmartSensor HD at strategic locations to monitor traffic; variable message signs were also deployed to direct drivers around terminal closures and other traffic problems. The data provided by HD gave airport officials real-time information about the number, type and size of vehicles using airport roads. The sensors were also used to monitor traffic flow around the cargo terminal; to monitor the number of vehicles entering and exiting the staff car park; and the speeds of vehicles around the airport.


The portable HD stations deployed by MTS were accurate, reliable, and could be moved or repositioned depending on the needs of the airport. Airport officials were very pleased with the success of the portable stations. “We work with a number of airports, and this project has opened their eyes,” Diamant said in 2009. “Many airports around the world weren’t designed to handle the amount of traffic they currently see, and officials from other UK airports are looking at alternative technologies like SmartSensor HD and portable trailers as solutions for their projects.”

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