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Smart Transport from a politician’s perspective – part 6

This is the sixth 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.


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.

Clearview Traffic’s 8 steps to intelligent mobility

You’ve decided between hardware purchase and buying data as a service (step 1) and now with your legacy systems identified (step 2) and a tool such as Clearview Traffic’s Insight platform in place to integrate your data streams (step 3) you are ready to start building an exciting and, more than that, popular intelligent mobility system that will empower citizens to make positive choices when they set out on a journey.

What’s the next step?

Step 4 – Building on the foundations

As soon as you have reviewed your legacy systems, you will have started to identify the gaps in the data streams you already have. There will be road routes for which you have no traffic data, car parks that collect no occupancy data, and there may be significant stretches of on-street car parking for which there is no monitoring of occupancy at all.

Do you have comprehensive data from every mode of public transport? Or for each mode, are you accessing data for every route?

Once you have identified all the data you would like to have, as opposed to the data you already have, you need to start to prioritise. After all, unless you are very lucky you won’t be able to afford to fill all the gaps at once, so scaling up from the legacy foundations in affordable steps is vital.

To start with, it might just be an extra key road route or a popular bus route; or a new car-park operator that you can encourage to collect data; or resources might be made available to deploy data collection in a particularly congested area of the Town; but every little or large increment you can make to the data collection network not only brings you closer to your goal, but is itself potentially a visible benefit for the traveller.

Step 5 – Involving the citizen

Integrating transport data streams and developing a comprehensive data network will have benefits in its own right for transport managers, but the key to the strategy I have been setting out in these blogs is to use them to build systems that actively engage the citizen.

If the information you are collecting is not made available to the public in a form that they can use to make better travel choices, then the ‘political’ benefits of intelligent mobility will not be delivered.

Web Applications, bus route hardwired message signs, roadside variable message signs, smartphone apps, ‘traffic priority’ radio messages are all obvious tools for making information available to travellers.

Many of the technologies for doing this are commercially available already.

You can also make your data available through sat-navs and the local TV and radio stations, but wherever possible you should ‘brand’ it – so that the people who ultimately benefit from it know where it has come from.

After all, why should your local commercial radio station take the credit for information that your employers paid to collect?

The 5 steps we have taken so far will deliver a working intelligent mobility system and that’s great.

But to leverage what you have built and create something that adds up to more than the sum of its parts means taking two more steps that we will cover in the next blog.

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.

Author: |Date Published: March 2014

Links: Traffic Flow Monitoring

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