Management > Open Data

Exeter and Devon councils hope smart data will drive intelligent transport

David Bicknell Published 10 December 2015

'Engaged smart transport' project led by NTT Data aims to solve Exeter's transport congestion


Two south-west councils are to collaborate on an intelligent transport project which they hope will generate effective solutions to alleviate traffic congestion in and around Exeter.

Exeter City Council and Devon County Council, together with a consortium led by NTT Data, have launched the "Engaged Smart Transport" project to better understand the factors affecting people's travel behaviour.

The project will use real-time traffic and weather sensor data, together with other sources such as eyewitness and behavioural information to better understand the factors affecting people's travel behaviour. It is intended to reveal where and why congestion happens and identify solutions to address these problems. The consortium has been awarded match funding by Innovate, the UK Government's innovation agency.

Exeter is currently setting out a growth plan for the city that will deliver 12,000 new homes, 60 hectares of new business land and 40,000 square metres of new retail space by 2026. Increased population and commuter movement will add to pressures on infrastructure and public transport services. The city has a central population of 120,000 that already experiences daily congestion as well as one-off spikes caused by events such as football and rugby matches.

Understanding how existing road capacity can be managed more effectively is critical for Exeter to grow. By adopting an innovative approach to the use of existing and new data from sources such as sensor technology, social media feedback and the latest traffic algorithm technology, the Engaged Smart Transport project hope to deliver insight into population movement and provide answers to everyday traffic issues.

The consortium of traffic experts and specialist providers on the project will be led by NTT DATA to deliver a mix of local knowledge, capability and technology. The consortium members and their areas of expertise include smart transportation expertise and technology, plus programme management and customer experience capabilities from NTT DATA; intelligent transport systems from Imtech Traffic & Infra; environmental sensors from Vaisala providing information on local weather and road conditions; behavioural research into real time travel decision making from the University of Exeter and trend analysis, prediction and citizen engagement through social media from Black Swan

Cllr Andrew Leadbetter, Devon County Council's Cabinet Member with special responsibility for Exeter, said; "We are pleased to be involved in this exciting project that will benefit Exeter commuters and residents. Technology is rapidly changing and this is a great opportunity to work with industry experts making best use of the vast amount of data various organisations hold to help manage our transport network.

"We already use a range of traffic management measures across Exeter. However, traffic levels and journey times remain unpredictable," said Cllr Rachel Sutton, lead councillor for Exeter City Development. "The Engaged Smart Transport project will see the council engage with NTT DATA and the consortium members, as well as the citizens of Exeter, to help traffic managers cut congestion and enable citizens to make travel choices which save time, are better for the city and the environment. The project outcomes will enhance the lives of residents and commuters and help the local economy to thrive, while supporting our public health efforts to reduce avoidable vehicle emissions."

"Cities around the world are suffering from the same congestion problems, so I'm delighted that we can apply NTT DATA's proven technologies from Japan to drive innovation in the UK," said Anna Price, head of public sector at NTT DATA. "The Engaged Smart Transport project is a first-time investment by NTT DATA's R&D department here in the UK and I'm really thrilled to be applying our Japanese smart transportation expertise to helping the people of Exeter."


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