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Smart Transport from a politician’s perspective – part 8

This is the eighth 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.

Return on investment

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.

Intelligent Mobility – Payback Time

Your data network is complete – or as complete as you can afford it to be at the moment. You’ve identified the legacy systems that are already in place, integrated the various data streams, spotted and filled the key gaps, made this information available to citizens so they can actively make positive transport choices, encouraged developers to produce new and innovative tools for your area, and then built reliable models to allow you better manage your local transport network and identify the environmental impact of traffic.

The first seven steps of the Clearview Traffic approach has allowed you to do this in a way that is affordable and scalable, and you can add to the network as you need to. So far so good – but what is step 8?

For a politician, step 8 is the key one. And as I pointed out in my first blog on this subject, if you are responsible for a transport system in the UK, ultimately you work for and answer to an elected politician.

Your elected leaders had to take the leap of faith that allowed you to build the system you have. They approved the funds for the project including, lest you forget, the funds that pay your wages.

Ultimately, they are the ones that have taken the risk: the citizens pay their taxes and expect to see them used effectively and it is the politicians who answer to those citizens.

They are called on to explain traffic jams, slow and uncomfortable journeys and poor air-quality; they have to justify every penny that has been spent; they are held to account for the economic performance of the local area; and if they have promised improvements on the back of an investment they have decided to make in intelligent mobility, then they need to show those improvements have been delivered.

Step 8 – Promoting the benefits and driving culture change

For these reasons, a key stage in the intelligent mobility project is to explain what has been delivered and promote the use of the tools that are now available.

The citizens have to be able to see that their taxes have delivered something that can make their life better, and they will only see this is the case if we actively promote the work that has been done.

Those photo calls that your politicians will want to attend should not be treated with cynical detachment, but actively encouraged: they mean you have built something that works, and are proud of it.

Every tool that uses the information that is generated should be branded.

Your organisation paid for it to be developed so putting ‘Anywhere Council’ or ‘Mayor of Anywhere’ and the appropriate logo on the advertisements, the apps, the message signs and the passenger vehicles that can now avoid the jams they once sat in is not only reasonable, but essential.

The most efficient transport mode for a particular journey on a particular day will not always be the same.

Encourage citizens to actively check before travelling. For some travellers price will be more important than journey times, so ensure they have tools that allow them to make that judgement and encourage them to use it.

And make sure your branding is visible when they do.

Finally, if you still see promoting intelligent mobility as irrelevant, ask yourself this: if your political leaders see that what you have built is popular and appreciated, and if they are able to reap the political benefits of that work, then when you go back to them and ask for the resources to expand the network or add a new application or data stream, are they more or less likely to say ‘yes’?
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.

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