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Innovate UK launches traffic data competition


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Innovate UK is to make a £250,000 share of the GovTech Catalyst funding available for projects aimed at using data to ease traffic congestion.

The agency, part of the UK Research and Innovation national funding organisation, has launched a competition for proposals to use data that can support local authorities with real time traffic analysis and in forming long term strategy. They should also be scalable for use by other councils and take into account how the data can be used to influence the behaviour of motorists around the country.

The competition is likely to run in two phases, the first of which will focus on feasibility studies with up to five contracts to be awarded up to £50,000 each. The second will involve the award of up to £500,00 to two projects for testing in a real environment.

It has been created in response to a challenge from the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Royal Borough of Greenwich as a Small Business Research Initiative. The borough has been among the leaders in developing smart transport solutions; it is involved in the GATEway Project for the deployment of driverless pods and a smart city project with the University of Surrey.

Information shortage

Innovate UK said the initiative has been prompted partly by a report from the DfT showing that many local authorities do not have reliable information on vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians and much of the research they do have has been carried out manually.

The report emphasises the potential of open transport data in areas such as improving air quality and reducing emissions, and making it easier for people to travel. But it also points out that the societal benefits from open transport data are often not matched by the commercial value.

The GovTech Catalyst was set up last year to support public sector organisations develop new solutions for operational service and policy delivery and is running a series of challenges with the support of the £20 million GovTech Fund.

Image by Sam Kelly through Wikimedia Commons

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