Department plans discovery exercise to explore potential use of new tools and data sources
The Department for Transport is to explore the potential “digitisation of the kerbside”, including the possible use of emerging technologies and data sources that could support autonomous vehicles and e-scooters.
The DfT defined the kerbside as “the area of the highway immediately adjacent to the kerb – which is currently is used for multiple purposes, including waiting/loading, [and] bus stops”.
It added: “The kerbside is a scarce resource dominated by private vehicle parking but facing new demands for access from active forms of travel and new disruptive services, including e-cycles [and] e-scooters, whilst maintaining essential freight deliveries and servicing.”
The department is seeking to undertake a discovery research exercise with the aim of better understanding how technology and the analysis of data from various sources could help better manage the kerbside and allow for new uses.
“Research is required to reflect market innovation, new data… and current DfT research – [such as] National Parking Platform, electric vehicle charge point data, digital traffic regulation orders, [and] last-mile freight access – which are providing new tools towards a digitised kerbside capable of responding dynamically to changing demands,” the DfT said. “User-focused research is required into the as-is, pain points, and opportunities for the digitisation and re-purposing of the kerbside to support active travel [and] new forms of mobility and freight distribution, EVs [and] CAVs (connected and autonomous vehicles), and to consider the constraints of the current regulatory framework.”
The department is seeking to appoint a supplier to support the delivery of the discovery programme. The exercise will take about eight weeks, with work scheduled to begin shortly after bids close on 19 January.
The ultimate aim of the programme of work will be to provide “expert recommendations for improved management… reflecting both current and future kerbside needs, clearly identifying the role for local and central government”.
The findings of the research will be used by various teams across the DfT, including policymakers in the areas of parking, traffic signage, street design, decarbonisation and lowering emissions, and future forms of transport, including autonomous vehicles.
Other users of the information might include parking and transport officials at local councils and national highway authorities, as well as commercial third parties such as data firms, digital map specialists, and “dynamic kerbside innovators and SMEs”.
Staff from the chosen provider will work alongside a small existing in-house team comprised of officials from the department’s traffic management unit. The DfT Digital Service unit will assist.
Work on the project, which will take place remotely, will consist of several sprints dedicated to the achievement of “exact milestones [to] be determined” once the supplier has been appointed.
A budget of £120,000 is available to spend on the discovery phase.