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Smart Transport from a politician’s perspective – part III

This is the third 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.

Smart cities rely on empowered citizens

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.

Smart cities rely on empowered citizens

So, you’ve started the job of trying to convince your political leadership that there are benefits to be gained from following the Smart City agenda, and that a good starting point is transport.

You’ve taken my advice that systems that actively engage citizens will provide the most significant political return and now the politicians are taking a serious interest in the idea, but want to know that intelligent mobility systems are not only deliverable and will also provide citizens with the clear benefits that will win their support.

Here are just a few of the many ideas that you could pitch to them:

Making the benefits visible to citizens

We’ve become familiar with street signs that show the number of vacancies in city centre car parks, but we seldom see any indication of where free on-street parking might be available, and when we set out on our journey we don’t have any idea of whether space of any type will be free when we arrive.

And if you are in a strange city, how do you know which of those car-parks with free space are near to your destination, or the cost of a space, or if you’d be quicker using the ‘park and ride’ instead of driving into the centre of town and taking your chances?

Wouldn’t citizens see the benefit of an ‘app’ or website that allows them to choose the most convenient car-park and compare prices before they set out?

Even better, why not allow them to book and pay for that space in advance, so you can be sure of a parking space on arrival?

By providing this type of system, we would engage and empower the citizen and the benefits would be obvious. What might be less obvious, but just as important, is that by reducing the number of cars circulating around the city looking for a parking space we would also be making a significant contribution to reducing congestion.

Is this deliverable? Clearview Traffic can offer parking space occupancy detection today, and with the support of car park operators the additional functionality is very practical.

Provide citizens with information to make informed decisions

Most cities also offer park and ride facilities.

Frankly, unless there is clear benefit in price or an obvious problem with congestion ahead that happens to have been announced on the radio station they are listening to, most people drive past them and take their chances in the city centre.

Why not offer drivers some clear information before they arrive at the park and ride, to show them the time saving that could be achieved by pulling in and using the bus?

This is information that can be delivered through road signs or to smart-phone apps, or other in-car devices such as sat-navs.

The benefit of this type of useable information will be clear to drivers. Less obvious might be the use of real-time traffic information to adopt traffic management strategies that facilitate the movement of buses in those areas where there are no dedicated bus lanes, and which can ensure the park and ride bus has a clear run.

Or why not combine traffic data in real-time with information about how well local bus or train services are running?

Then you could provide ‘sat-navs with traffic’ or online tools with data that is rich enough to allow citizens to confidently choose the most efficient route to their destination – or even to choose between different transport modes for their daily commute before they set out.

Is this deliverable? Clearview Traffic has huge experience of measuring traffic flows and using that data to inform traffic managers and manipulate traffic signals.

Their Insight platform can also integrate a wide range of data types and produce use able information to drive apps from which citizens would derive real benefit.

And while the direct benefit to the citizen will be obvious when they plan their routes, less obvious will be that the data can also be used as a key part of your air quality strategy by underpinning your pollution models.

If you’d like to find out more about our traffic data solutions, traffic data collection, road safety solutions, intelligent road studs and traffic management systems, please feel free to contact us here.

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