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Smart Transport from a politician’s perspective – part 7

This is the seventh 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.

Adding value with Intelligent Mobility

We all like a bargain. Steps 1 to 5 in Clearview Traffic’s approach to building intelligent mobility networks have delivered a working transport information system that your citizens will appreciate.

But can we build on it to deliver some unexpected returns?

Steps 6 and 7 do just that.

Step 6 – adding innovations

Out in the wider world, clever people will always be developing new ways to present and use transport data. Step 6 is to make your data available to them (sometimes for free and sometimes on commercial terms, depending on the application) in return for their new application being deployed in your area.

Some of these innovations we can predict.

For example, systems that give drivers clear information in advance of an approaching park and ride site so that they can work out whether it’s better to pull in and catch the bus or train rather than take their chances by staying in the car; systems that will allow drivers to make advanced reservations for a parking space at their destination; or dial-a-ride/on demand town centre mini-bus operations. Some examples of these can be seen in Clearview Traffic’s visualisation of the smart city landscape.

Clearview Smart City

Other innovations will come along that we simply cannot predict, so keep an open mind and make sure you facilitate the next ‘big idea’ by making your data available to developers.

And also keep your eye open for commercial innovations – ideas that can utilise your data and will generate a financial return, perhaps through advertising or by producing footfall for retailers.

At least you can expect local travellers to have access to the latest innovations as they become available – but at best you might also be able to generate a financial return to ease the burden on local council tax payers.

Step 7 – modelling for local advantage

The data you are now collecting will tell you what is happening in your area right now, but it can also be used to build models of traffic flows that can then be used to develop better transport management schemes, predict what will happen in the event of adverse weather, or when roads have to be closed for repair.

These models can deliver benefits that will possibly be less visible to travellers on their daily commute, but can nevertheless add real value for your organisation.

When a planning application is submitted, your model could independently predict its impact on traffic.

If your road engineering team has some funds for improvements, the benefit of having a tool that can help them optimise their designs and prioritise spending could be immense.

When the public demand that a road is widened, or that a traffic light is removed, the benefit of offering politicians objective information as to the impact the change would make is obvious.

Or, when the local football team unexpectedly makes progress in the Cup and draws a Premier League opponent, it will be these models that can be used to predict the impact on local traffic.

And what about using traffic models to predict other local impacts?

It’s increasingly important for pollution to be measured in urban areas but this can be an expensive exercise if you buy, install and maintain a comprehensive network of environmental sensors for this purpose alone.

Instead, a good model of road traffic can predict pollution patterns and hotspots – fewer sensors would be needed to validate such a model and test whether the changes the model predicts in different weather conditions are correct.

Plus, only a limited number of sensors on key routes or important ‘hot spots’ may need to be permanently retained.

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

Author: |Date Published: April 2014


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