Exeter unveils Big Data scheme to reduce traffic congestion

Exeter City Council and Devon County Council have announced a new initiative aimed at using data technology to reduce traffic jams around the city during its expansion.

The Engaged Smart Transport project will see the councils team up with a number of private sector partners and University of Exeter to identify solutions to reduce congestion.

Exeter, which has a central population of 120,000 is developing a growth plan to deliver 12,000 new homes, 60ha of new business land and 40,000m2 of new retail space by 2026.

Rachel Sutton, lead councillor for Exeter city development, said: “We already use a range of traffic management measures across Exeter. However, traffic levels and journey times remain unpredictable.”

“The project outcomes will enhance the lives of residents and commuters and help the local economy to thrive, while supporting our public health efforts to reduce avoidable vehicle emissions.”

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The project has received match funding from government innovation agency Innovate UK.

It will use real-time traffic and weather sensor data, combined with eye witness reports from social media and behavioural information to analyse factors affecting travel behaviour.

Supplier NTT DATA will use techniques developed within its Japanese research and development labs on the project.

Anna Price, head of public sector at NTT DATA, said: “Cities around the world are suffering from the same congestion problems, so I’m delighted that we can apply NTT DATA’s proven technologies from Japan to drive innovation in the UK.”

The project will also use intelligent transport systems developed by supplier Imtech Traffic & Infra, environmental sensors supplied by Finnish manufacturer Vaisala and trend analysis, prediction and citizen engagement through social media from Big Data firm Black Swan.

The university will contribute behavioural research into real time travel decision making.

A spokesman for the council said that increased population and commuter movement are set to add to pressures on infrastructure and public transport services.

Earlier this week, digital economy minister Ed Vaizey has announced that Manchester has won £10m from government to support a test scheme for Internet of Things technology.

Colin Marrs

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