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Report highlights need for location data to support EV chargepoint roll out

Chargepoint markers on tarmac
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The Geospatial Commission has urged local authorities to make full use of location data in the roll out of chargepoints for electric vehicles (EVs).

It has published a report on the issue, Charging Ahead, highlighting three core findings and five opportunities to better use existing location data and new sources of information.

The commission said it is intended to help councils make decisions about where to install the chargepoints, which are set to become a crucial feature of public infrastructure with the Government’s plan to phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.

The core points emphasised in the report are: the need for standardised and consistent data to support analysis and product innovation; there is potentially untapped value in private sector data to support the chargepoint roll out; and local authorities and modellers are currently innovating with proxy methods, with some success, to fill gaps in the data.

Need to standardise

These feed into the five opportunities, the first of which is to understand the location and availability of existing chargepoints through standardising operators’ data. The Department for Transport has recently taken a step towards this by laying legislation to mandate operators to provide open access to data about the chargepoints.

Second is to understand consumer charging behaviour and travel patterns by using population movement data from sources such as mobile networks; and third to identify the location of EVs by using commercially held data about leased vehicles. This reflects the fact that currently about two-thirds of new EV registrations are made by corporate fleet owners and licensing companies.

Fourth is to identify existing electricity capacity through the better use of distribution network operator data. Communications regulator Ofcom has set expectations for this as part of its Electric Vehicle Smart Charging Action Plan.

Fifth is to identify areas without off-street parking by using proxy data. This could also support decisions on urban planning, traffic management and the development of the electricity grid.

Location and accessibility

The report highlights that the location of chargepoints is as important as absolute numbers, as consumers want them to be where they are needed and easily accessible.

Local authorities are ideally placed to identify local needs, play a fundamental role in facilitating private sector investment and ensuring all communities have access to reliable public charging infrastructure, especially on-street charging points. They must make informed decisions about how many, which types and where chargepoints will be installed, based on demand and site suitability.

The commission said that location data and applications can provide valuable insights to make this possible.

Minister for the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology Viscount Camrose said: “The transition to electric vehicles is central to the Government’s plan to decarbonise the transport sector, keep the UK at the forefront of clean transport and tackle pollution, all while seizing the potential for growth and job creation in the UK’s growing EV industry.

“Local authorities and the wider sector should continue to embrace new location data and analysis to accelerate the targeted rollout of chargepoints so that drivers can find and access reliable chargepoints wherever they live.”

Future of mobility

The Geospatial Commission has been leading a programme highlighting the opportunities for advanced geospatial applications in the transport sector. This has identified how location data can support the future of mobility and next generation transport networks and called out ways to maximise its impact.

In 2021 the commission published Getting to the Point, which explored the role of location data to help model future demand for chargepoints, identify suitable sites, create a seamless consumer experience and track roll out.

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