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Exeter to test smart transport technology



City joins Devon County Council in two-year programme aimed at cutting congestion on roads

Exeter City Council and Devon County Council have launched a technology-driven Engaged Smart Transport project to test ways of reducing traffic problems in the city.

They will work on a two-year programme along with a business and academic group led by IT services provider NTT Data, using real time data from traffic and weather sensors in an effort to understand behaviour and what causes congestion. The University of Exeter will carry out behavioural research into real time travel decision making, and the project will take in social media and observations from drivers and the public.

It will focus on a number of roads, and the county council has highlighted the Exmouth to Exeter corridor A367 route.

The scheme has received £1 million in funding from the councils and the government’s innovation agency InnovateUK.

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Devon’s cabinet member with responsibility for Exeter, said: “We are pleased to be involved in this exciting project that will benefit Exeter residents.

“Technology is rapidly changing and this is a great opportunity to work with industry experts to help make the best use of the vast amount of data various organisations hold to help manage our transport network.”

Japanese precedent

NTT Data will provide technology that it has already used in Japan to simulate models on the layout of a city’s roads and junctions, and which uses data feeds of traffic flows to forecast and measure congestion.

This can take in factors such as calculating the probabilities of any vehicle leaving a junction by a particular exit, and the speed distributions. In turn, this can be used to calculate optimum timing for traffic signals.

In a field study in Jilin, Japan, the technology was used to collect data from terminals on 200 buses running on eight routes and from traffic flows.

As part of the Exeter project, the company will test how well it can be adapted to a UK city using available data feeds, including GPS from moving vehicles, and how it performs against existing technologies used to signal control.

The project will also make use of intelligent transport systems from Imtech Traffic & Infra, environmental sensors from Vaisala, and trend analysis, prediction and citizen engagement through social media from Black Swan.

The project is part of the councils’ effort to prepare for a project growth in Exeter’s size and population, which is expected to increase the pressure on infrastructure and transport services. It has a growth plan for 12,000 new homes, 60 hectares of business land and 40,000 square metres of retail space by 2026.

Image by Derek Harper, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons




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