The road to smarter traffic management: how innovative technology is revolutionising the transport sector
For the transport sector, it’s no secret that congestion is increasing, fewer roads are being built than before and little extra capacity is being added to the network. In a world where big data is both a reality and an expectation, cities are getting smarter, infrastructure is evolving and, as a result, traffic systems are needing to adapt to meet the increasing digital demands of citizens in an ever-changing economy.
A challenging backdrop provokes the situation further. With both vehicle numbers and population levels on the rise, as well as growing user expectations for live information and smarter mobility, transport technology will be pivotal in helping countries hit environmental targets, improve travel safety and deliver a more intuitive network across all modes of transport.
Therefore, as local authorities strive to keep up with citizen, societal, environmental and financial demands for more efficient travel, digital is likely to be the key needed to unlock innovative traffic management.
The game changers of traffic management
The digital solutions available to the transport sector demonstrate how local authorities are challenged to go beyond simple system upgrades and operating a ‘business as usual’ approach. It’s about doing things smarter, more coordinated and considering all options.
Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) combine information technology and telecommunications to ensure the safe and efficient movement of people and goods across all modes of transport. Functioning beyond merely software, they help transport professionals resolve traffic issues through the provision of real-time information, enabling them to model, monitor and control the environmental effects of travel, whilst reducing congestion by maximising the use of a limited road network.
At its core, ITS are powered by an intelligent Traffic Management Centre, which accumulates, analyses and locally distributes data in real-time to ensure traffic is managed effectively with efficiencies achieved across the network where possible.
By developing ITS in line with an area’s geographical, environmental and socio-economic background, applications can be integrated into existing systems to ensure the data generated is meaningful and can be used to support informed, strategic decision-making.
There is a human side to the technology too. For local authorities to truly derive value from their ITS, it relies on crucial assistance from information technology architects and thinkers who understand how to turn data into actionable insights that will ultimately help to achieve the vision of a sustainable, smarter transport network for communities across the globe.
For a sector previously considered by some as costly and slow to adopt change and innovation, excellent work is being done across the country to make transport more efficient and safer for commuters, whilst reducing the globe’s carbon footprint.
Recent innovations include the Greenwave project – one of only 20 selected to receive a share of the Government’s £20 million Low Emission Freight and Logistics Trial programme. The project is built on smartphone application Greenwave – developed by Idox Transport in conjunction with Checkedsafe –which uses traffic signal data to transform fleet driver behaviour by encouraging them to drive in a more efficient manner via gamification. Drivers are awarded a green score each time they drive, based on both their driving style and how they approach traffic signals. Points accumulate over the month with a monthly league board rewarding the driver with the highest score.
The Idox app solution – the first of its type in existence – will be deployed as a trial on 12 Masternaut-equipped vehicles in Amey's Birmingham Highways utility contract over a 6-month period to monitor the impact on MPG and vehicle emissions. The aim is to deliver a 10% reduction in monthly fuel costs and CO2 emissions.
Idox Transport’s work has also recently supported local authorities in keeping passengers in the picture and influencing travel behaviour for environmental benefits.
Idox Transport implemented its Travel Assist solution for Suffolk County Council, combining information from multiple bus operators to provide a single source of information for citizens at any of the county’s bus stop installations. The innovative system also enables the Council to manage and report on standard, key fleet performance indicators, including whether buses are running to time and give late buses priority through key corridors.
In a bid to try and encourage more people to use sustainable travel, there are also councils working hard to gain insights into the perception of public transport in their local community. This was the case for Cornwall Council who collaborated with Idox to identify how digital services could encourage existing car drivers to use public transport.
Following Government Digital Services (GDS) guidelines, Idox embarked on user research to explore the barriers discouraging Cornish citizens from using public transport; the online and digital tools they may already use to plan journeys; and their experience of public transport. The user insights are now being taken forward by the Council to address how digital can be used to benefit the transport network in the area and encourage a behavioural shift.
Transport technology for the future
These projects provide just a snapshot of how local authorities are adopting innovative technology to accommodate the changing needs and expectations of their citizens. However, whilst the transport sector is well on its way to embracing channel shift, to truly understand the power of digital, transport technology needs to be combined with a clear strategy that takes into consideration both authority and user-orientated needs. After all, systems alone are not enough to generate the smart transport networks of the future that communities have come to expect.
Providing bespoke solutions that lead to smarter transport management, Idox Transport has a strong track record working with local authorities in the UK and across the world, as far-reaching as Australia. A leading innovator in developing creative transport solutions tailored to the requirements of both operational transport managers and the travelling public, Idox Transport offers a more efficient and cost-effective approach to strategic and localised transport control, enabling total network management across all forms of transport.
To find out more about our Network Management, Fleet Management and Travel Assist services, and how they can help you, please contact:
Product Manager, Idox Transport
M. +44 (0) 7823 343 377