New Technology Can Transform UK’s Transport System

Transport is a key element of smart cities, with new technologies revolutionising local transport systems while also keeping a lid on costs.

In a recently published guide for local authorities, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) explain how technologies such as big data analytics and cloud computing can help solve existing and future transport problems while managing, or even reducing, costs.

Examples in the report include the use of smartphone apps to determine road and cycle path conditions, and Bluetooth systems that allow transport operators and planners to analyse journeys across multiple transport modes in near real-time.

Among the local authorities that have already embraced new technologies are:

• Dublin City Council, which is using a web-based system to improve the management of traffic equipment. Field engineers can access the system via smartphone or tablet app to view and enter information from the roadside, while managers can get a better overview of the real-time performance of the council’s traffic technology.

• Sunderland City Council, which is working with the Met Office on a transport and weather information pilot to improve traffic and travel throughout the region. One of the potential benefits is reducing delays on public transport through predictive routing.

• Milton Keynes Council, which has commissioned a fleet of electric buses that will be able to recharge their batteries wirelessly during the day without interrupting the timetable. Data collected in this trial project is planned to be used to demonstrate the economic viability of low-carbon public transport.

• Hampshire County Council, which has reduced the county’s CO2 emissions by 4,000 tonnes – the equivalent to the CO2 emitted from 1,600 cars per year – by introducing a smarter street lighting system for over 100,000 lights and signs.

“Recent advances in transport technologies offer excellent opportunities for local authorities to deliver transport services more effectively and efficiently,” commented Alison Carr, director of Governance and Policy at the IET.

Barriers that still need to be overcome range from lack of awareness of what is possible to the need for new, more flexible procurement, Carr added.

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