Inner City Road Tolling: an old Town meets the Future

For reducing traffic congestion or climate protection, toll collection systems are becoming increasingly important in the urban context. Thanks to a pioneering solution, EFKON has now conquered the Norwegian market in this field. The special thing about it is a flexible toll box that blends into the cityscape.
Heimo Haub
Heimo Haub
Head of Sales, Marketing & Business Development, EFKON. ©EFKON

There’s a lot to see on a stroll through Bergen’s picturesque fish market. Traders hawking fresh lobster and oysters, sailing ships anchored in the harbour, and wooden buildings over 1,000 years old, which make the district a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not recognisable at first glance is the new tolling station, which is discreetly integrated into the street scene nearby. With the all-in-one box, EFKON has developed a pioneering solution for equipping even historic cities with intelligent tollcollection systems. This made the Styrian STRABAG subsidiary the market leader in Norway.

Camera with machine-learning algorithms

The ground-breaking thing about the new system is the concentrated technology in a slim design. “Conventional toll collection systems are large steel structures packed with lots of equipment from laser to radar. This seriously impacts the cityscape,” says Heimo Haub, Head of Sales, Marketing & Business Development at EFKON. “Our system needs only a single component and can be integrated into the urban space in an excellent way.” The centrepiece is a high-quality camera that simultaneously identifies and classifies vehicles – across two lanes and at speeds of up to 160 km/h. Thanks to machine-learning algorithms, the system is constantly learning in order to deliver even more accurate results in detecting vehicle number plates.

Before
After

Before and after: Compared to the sleek new EFKON system (picture at right), conventional designs look old-fashioned and outdated. © ArTo / Fotolia.

New technology for the Norwegian market

This was just what the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (NPRA) was looking for. EFKON was commissioned by the state agency to set up around 100 toll collection stations in Bergen and Oslo since the beginning of 2019. In the middle of the year, additional orders followed in the regions of Nordhordland and Damåsen. “The requirement was to equip historic cities with old buildings and large usable areas with new systems that fit harmoniously into the cityscape,” said Haub. “We meet these requirements 100 %.” The compact box can be mounted on masts in the city centre as well as on freestanding single toll bridges in the suburbs. It is an easy-to-install solution that also saves costs.

Toll collection at the fish market: With the new N-FORCE AVT100 tolling solution from EFKON, Bergen is fit for the future. © EFKON
Picturesque landscape: With its extensive road network, Norway is a future market for innovative toll solutions. © EFKON
Tolls in rural areas: The sensor box from EFKON can also be installed on motorways. © EFKON

Future solution for clean cities

What drives a Styrian company to expand into northern Europe? “Toll collection systems will be increasingly in demand in cities, also to curb traffic in urban areas, for example with the help of environmental zones,” says Haub. “Norway has a leading role here and is therefore one of the most exciting future markets for us.” Already in 1985 Bergen was one of the first cities in Europe to introduce a city toll for entering the city centre. To this day, investments in modern infrastructure projects are being made with great enthusiasm.

EFKON, with its 600 employees, is a successful international provider of toll collection solutions. From its headquarters in Austria, the company develops its products for distribution in Europe, Asia and Africa. Upon customer request, EFKON also offers the installation and operation of the systems.

Global player from Styria

EFKON, with its 600 employees, is a successful international provider of toll collection solutions. From its headquarters in Austria, the company develops its products for distribution in Europe, Asia and Africa. Upon customer request, EFKON also offers the installation and operation of the systems.

Full service including maintenance

A close-up of the EFKON Sensor-Box.
©EFKON

The latest EFKON solution includes much more than the box visible from the outside. Around a dozen experts developed a comprehensive and complete system in one and a half years. “Our camera takes 30 pictures per second, evaluates them and chooses the best for further processing. We have also developed a back-end that provides the customer with the data in real time,” says Haub.

The cooperation includes an eight-year maintenance contract with an option to extend to 17 years. The basic concept is quite simple: swivelling poles allow the maintenance team to repair any damage within four hours without having to completely block the roads. When the camera at the Bergen fish market is dirty and needs to be cleaned, for example. This guarantees that the new EFKON toll system will work smoothly at all locations.

A smart camera

Precise and lean: with its N-FORCE AVT100, EFKON has developed a pioneering toll solution. The facts about the sensor box at a glance.

  • Camera: with state-of-the-art CMOS image sensor, high dynamic range and infrared flash, capable of capturing 30 frames per second
  • Embedded machine vision engine: powerful image analysis directly in the box
  • Performance: identification, classification and automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) of vehicles across two lanes and at speeds of up to 160 km/h
  • Security: secure data access with integrated SAM (secure access module)

Haub sees great potential for the future – not only on the Norwegian road network with its more than 250 checkpoints. “We are currently converting all our systems to the new solution and are applying for promising tenders in this regard,” he says. Exciting projects all over Europe are in the works.