Cambridge turns to smart city technology to beat congestion

Smart city technology can help combat congestion in Cambridge, officials said last week.

Smart Cambridge, a local group set up by the Greater Cambridge City Deal, has been exploring how data, innovative technology and better connectivity can be used to transform the way people live, work and travel in the Greater Cambridge area and beyond.

The group is currently developing three projects that harness smart technology to help tackle congestion:

  1. Digital screens to advise and guide visitors arriving at Cambridge railway station. The screens will provide better travel information for onward journeys, making the transition from train to bus, cycling or walking easier, as well as allowing travellers to get more information about the city, Cambridge News reported.
  2. ‘Motion Maps’ plotting the best transport options, which will be available as an app on residents’ mobile phones and tablets. The aim is to give people a greater degree of certainty about using public transport, with more accurate figures about any bus delays and better information for walking and cycling options.
  3. Better real-time bus updates.

These projects will all receive information from a new ‘data hub’, collating and processing data from around the city.

For example, sensors in roads, pavements, traffic lights, lamp-posts and buildings will be able to monitor a range of measures including air quality, traffic, and cycle and pedestrian movements. The combined data can then be used to plan smart solutions including making transport systems more reliable and easier to use.

Cllr. Lewis Herbert, leader of Cambridge City Council and chair of the Greater Cambridge City Deal Executive Board, said:

“The Greater Cambridge City Deal has agreed in principle to allocate £280,000 to develop smart technologies, better connectivity and smart engineering that will make all our lives better and tackle transport, congestion and other city challenges. There is potentially more money on the table given what we could achieve through our partnerships with universities and our world-leading Cambridge technology businesses, so we are looking at other smart transport projects.

“Smart data solutions will give people far better travel choices and improve the quality of journeys for those living and travelling around Greater Cambridge, and we are determined to think smarter about how we provide quality sustainable transport for our growing community.”

At present, much of the technology needed to implement the smart city projects in Cambridge is still in development and Smart Cambridge is looking to collaborate with commercial partners to trial new solutions. If successful, the technology and applications developed as part of the City Deal could be used more widely to support communities across the county.

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