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Edinburgh to harness digital and data for mobility

14/01/20

Mark Say Managing Editor

City of Edinburgh Council has highlighted the potential to increase the use of digital technology and data within its new draft mobility and transport plan.

Edinbourgh cityscape

The City Mobility Plan, which is due to go to the council’s transport and environment committee on 16 January, includes features on the potential for digital interventions and internet of things technology to lay the ground for more environmentally friendly approach to travelling around the city.

It sets a target for Edinburgh to become carbon neutral by 2030 and emphasises the ambition to improve accessibility, inclusivity, the cost of travel, convenience of payment, safety and how space is used in the city. It is also aimed at reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality.

The section on technology points to the potential for a single mobility account for public transport, along with dynamic timetabling that adjusts to demand. This combines with an ambition for direct mobility services, connected to the taxi trade and commercial sector, to be a significant feature of the system by 2030. This would support people who find it difficult to use mainstream public transport networks.

It also highlights the potential for active sensors to manage congestion and traffic flows.

Seamless transfer

“Harnessing the potential of technology to get people, goods and services from door to door more easily, with seamless transfer and more affordably will be an essential feature of our strategy and use of technology to manage traffic,” the plan says.

“However, we will need data to be open and useable if its potential is to be maximised. This makes partnerships with the Data Driven Innovation programme led by the University of Edinburgh, essential.”

Among the details of the plan is a partnership with the programme to develop the use of real time data in city mobility and logistics.

The plan also involves the development of a city operations centre to manage streets and public spaces to minimise disruption and ensure safety, using smart technology to coordinate information and resources.

Other elements of the plan include improving the cycling, walking and electric vehicle infrastructure, the development of new bus and tram systems, and park-and-ride and logistics hubs around the edges of the city. In addition, a workplace parking levy is aimed at reducing the amount of cars around the city centre.

The next steps are for an eight-week consultation on the plan beginning in February, a survey on travel behaviour and the development of a monitoring framework and delivery plan.

Stress-free

Council Leader Adam McVey said: “The plan seeks to make stress-free, sustainable transport the most convenient and desirable option.

“This will not happen overnight; it’ll depend on us providing accessible and realistic alternatives, working closely with Lothian Buses and Edinburgh Trams to make our excellent bus and tram services even better while continuing major investment in active travel.

“Be in no doubt, however - a lack of action now will mean more congestion and pollution, as well as failing as a city to play our part in tackling the global climate crisis.”

Pictured: Princes Street from Calton Hill, Edinburgh by Kevin Rae/Geograph.org.uk

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