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Smart Transport from a politician’s perspective – part 5

This is the fifth in a series of blogs by Dr Stephen Ladyman on the subject of ‘smart transport’ written from ‘a politician’s’ perspective. Politicians need solutions to the real problems faced by citizens and need those solutions to be affordable, scalable and likely to win the approval of local people.

8 steps to a smarter city

Stephen was an IT Manager before becoming an MP and ultimately the Minister of State for Transport, and he will use these blogs in the weeks ahead to show how smart transport can deliver real benefits that citizens will appreciate and elected officials will support.

Making cities smarter – Getting started

You have an idea of the budget and you have the backing of your political leaders to develop an intelligent mobility network that will empower travellers and which citizens will see as delivering real benefits.

But where will you start, and how will you ensure that the project can progress year-by-year at an affordable pace?

The Clearview Traffic approach is aimed at answering these questions – you want a project that is affordable and scalable, and the Clearview ‘8 step’ approach delivers just that.

Step 1 – Buy hardware or data?

In my last blog, I posed the question as to whether you would buy data or buy hardware – making that decision is step one on the path to intelligent mobility.

If your organisation is capital rich, then acquiring hardware may be the way to go; hardware can be acquired with installation and commissioning and it keeps the service ‘in-house’; on the other hand, you will need to provide field engineer support and allow resource for administering and analysing data.

Alternatively, buying data as a service keeps capital expenditure to a minimum and can be funded through a fixed term monthly subscription; it frees you from maintenance costs, and optimises the time available for data analysis. The choice is yours.

Step 2 – Start with the data you already have.

All journeys must start, ‘with the ground beneath your feet.’ So step 2 does exactly that.

What sources of transport data do you already have in place and how can you make them available to citizens if they aren’t in a useable form already? I’m willing to bet there are more of these legacy systems than you expect when you start out, and making better use of this data could be very affordable as some of it will be freely available or already belong to your organisation.

For example, you may already have an urban traffic management system or, if not, a few roads where traffic flows are already being measured. If there are any routes into your town that are managed by the Highways Agency, they may also have traffic data for them.

Your local car parks may already be collecting occupancy data, whilst local bus and train operators could well be collecting data about their vehicle movements.

All this data will be collected for very specific purposes and possibly for proprietary use – but how much more useful could it be if it was integrated?

Step 3 – Make the data you have work together

Integrating these data streams is step 3, and this is where Clearview Traffic’s ‘Insight’ platform will come in. Insight is an integrated traffic data management solution designed to ease the burden of managing networks of devices, whilst simplifying the collection and analysis of traffic data.

It could be the very tool you need to bring together the data streams you already have, turn it into useful information, and then provide that information to citizens in a form that will allow them to make better travel choices.

In my next blog, I’ll talk about how to build on these foundations to deliver truly intelligent mobility. Clearview Traffic will be displaying their intelligent mobility portfolio at Intertraffic Amsterdam on 25th-28th March on stand EL100.

If you’d like to find out more about our Clearview Traffic Group’s Smart City solutions, please feel free to get in touch here.

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