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Report identifies priorities for transport data



Urban Transport Group points to opportunities in new legislation to improve local networks

Local and central government must do more to reap the benefits from the “vast volumes” of new transport data, a group of local transport authorities has urged.

The Urban Transport Group has identified four priority areas where policymakers need to “get smart on data”, to plan more efficient services and provide better customer service.

The group – representing all of England’s biggest cities – is also urging ministers to make the most of two pieces of legislation currently before Parliament.

Titled Getting Smart on Data, the report says the key challenge areas for achieving the full benefits of data are:

  • Sharing and integration - including deciding who is best placed to develop practical applications from data to bring benefits to passengers.
  • Ownership and privacy – in particular, protecting privacy while sharing data sets to maximise their value.
  • Quality and standards - including collecting the best quality data, putting it into useable formats and asking the right questions of it.
  • Skills and capabilities - including ensuring the right skills to manage and analyse data in ways which benefit passengers and improve decision making.

At the same time, the group has its eye on the Bus Services Bill and Modern Transport Bill, determined that they should “guarantee individual privacy through data”, while delivering greater social and economic value.

Regulation factor

The Bus Services Bill will give local authorities outside London similar powers to regulate private bus operators that have been enjoyed by the capital’s transport chiefs for decades.

The Modern Transport Bill, meanwhile, aims to put the UK “at the forefront of technology for new forms of transport, including autonomous and electric vehicles”.

Vernon Everitt, managing director for customers at Transport for London and the group’s lead board member for smart futures, said: “Big data and open data has huge potential to help transform travel.

“We need to work together to make sure we are asking the right questions of the data we generate to make travel easier and more convenient and enable better decisions around infrastructure investment.”

The report concludes that “data will mean transport users will become far more fully informed about their travel choices whilst at the same time it will transform the ability of transport authorities to plan and manage transport networks and services more efficiently and effectively”.

Smart Futures

It follows an event the group ran with the Future Cities Catapult in May, and is mainly aimed at city region transport officers. It will also feed into the Urban Transport Group’s Smart Futures work programme, which is examining how social and technological changes are influencing the future of transport.

The group represents Greater Manchester, the North East, Sheffield City Region, West Yorkshire, London, West Midlands and Liverpool City Region.

In addition, Strathclyde, Nottingham and Bristol and the West of England are associate members of the group.

Image by Pete Birkinshaw, CC BY 2.0 through flickr


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