Esri UK’s Content Services Team helped set up information about traffic restrictions in 31 European countries on one interactive map.

Providing a one-stop-shop for information from 31 European countries

A firm of air quality consultants has used Esri’s ArcGIS Online to develop a website for the European Commission that makes information about traffic restrictions in 31 European countries, easily accessible, from one interactive map. This comprehensive online service is expected to save time and money for drivers and vehicle operators, while helping to reduce urban pollution across the EU.

Esri UK’s Content Services team provided valuable consulting and data preparation support, which led to the inclusion of more comprehensive information for over 8,000 towns and cities, across Europe

Users view a map of the whole of Europe on the website, zoom into a specific country, region, city or town and simply click on their areas of interest to obtain accurate information about traffic restrictions

ArcGIS Online ensures that users experience consistently good website performance, whether they are using a PC, laptop, mobile tablet or smartphone, and displays information in 26 languages

The Challenge

It is a shocking but little-known fact that more people die from the effects of air pollution than are killed in road accidents in Europe. Furthermore, the cost of providing healthcare to alleviate the suffering caused by air pollution in the European Union (EU) is estimated to be as high as €790 million. To protect their populations, many European countries and cities have introduced traffic regulations in urban areas. Yet, while these measures help to improve air quality and reduce congestion, they can be confusing for drivers.

Haulage companies and coach operators that need to plan deliveries or tours in multiple European cities find it hard to obtain information about the many different types of restrictions in specific locations. They don’t know exactly where road charging schemes are in force or how to obtain a permit; they don’t know where weight and height restrictions exist which might influence their choice of vehicle; and they don’t know the locations of low emission zones or how to check to see if their vehicles will comply. For private drivers and small businesses planning one-off trips to European cities, it can be even harder to obtain this information.

To address this challenge, the European Commission (the EU’s executive body) appointed the specialist air quality consultancy Sadler Consultants Limited to develop a multilingual public website to consolidate information about urban access regulation schemes in Europe. The first version of this online facility was extremely well received, but the EU wanted to broaden it to include data on all traffic restrictions. Sadler Consultants also wanted to upgrade the web site’s mapping, which did not perform well on mobile devices or allow users to zoom in and out easily.

“ The website uses Esri’s ArcGIS Online to make it easier for drivers to understand and adhere to traffic restrictions in over 8,000 towns and cities in 31 European countries

The Solution

When Sadler Consultants upgraded and re-launched the web site, it replaced the previous FLASH-based map with Esri’s ArcGIS Online, a web-based geographic information system (GIS) solution that adapts effortlessly to any device. Users can now view a map of the whole of Europe on the website, zoom in to a specific country, region, city or town and click on their areas of interest. They can elect to view all restrictions or just certain types of regulation by checking boxes in an adjacent legend. Pop-up boxes then appear with detailed maps of relevant restrictions in the highlighted urban areas, and users can click in these boxes for full details, in any of 26 languages, including minority and non-EU languages.

GIS experts from Esri UK advised Sadler Consultants on the deployment of ArcGIS Online and assisted in the redevelopment of the website. In addition, Esri UK’s Content Services team provided expert guidance on appropriate data sources and brokered a data licensing deal with sat nav data provider HERE (formerly NAVTEQ). The team took HERE data on traffic restrictions in European towns and cities and converted this road network data into polygons depicting whole zones where restrictions apply. The data was then used in a series of ArcGIS Online maps configured by the Content Services team for use in the project.

“ It is my hope that the website will help support both towns and cities as well as vehicle operators, help to reduce pollution, noise and traffic in urban areas and improve lives across Europe

Lucy Sadler – Director, Sadler Consultant


The incorporation of ArcGIS Online into has transformed the site, making it more intuitive to navigate and providing an exceptional user experience on mobiles and tablets. “ArcGIS Online gives us an interactive interface that people can use to easily plan their journeys,” says Lucy Sadler, director of Sadler Consultants. “The pop-ups give users summary information without having to leave the map. It works brilliantly!”

The information available on the website is also significantly more extensive than it was previously; thanks to the inclusion of HERE data, sourced and prepared by Esri UK, the site now offers – for the first time – details on the height, width, length and weight restrictions for all European towns and cities (over 8,000). “Haulage companies and tour operators have long been lobbying the EU for a service as comprehensive as this and now we can provide it for them,” Sadler says.

In liaising with HERE, Esri UK was able to secure a cost-effective data pricing model for the EU, and this led to a further improvement in the quality of the website, as Sadler explains. “Thanks to Esri UK’s negotiation and data preparation, we had more funds available to investigate the more complex traffic regulations, which need more details than those provided through the HERE data, so could produce a more comprehensive record of restrictions for the whole of the EU.”

Over time, commercial vehicle operators and private individuals will save time and money from use of the website. They won’t waste hours trying to obtain and understand information that only exists in foreign languages and will avoid accidental penalties from not knowing a scheme exists.

Ultimately, the main aim is that the website will have a profound health benefit for millions of Europeans. Mindful of the many EU directives on air quality and the environment, Sadler concludes, “It is my hope that the website will help support both towns and cities as well as vehicle operators, help to reduce pollution, noise and traffic in urban areas and improve lives across Europe.”

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Urban Access Regulation in Europe

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