The funding will be shared between three companies.
The government has offered three tech firms a share of £1.5 million to come up with systems that will cut traffic jams. The money will be used to run trial schemes that evaluate the technology in Oxfordshire, York and Bournemouth.
On the south coast, transport company Vivacity is working on “sustainable” software that monitors traffic in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, flagging incidents in real time and allowing traffic control operators to respond quickly and stop traffic jams forming. Meanwhile a company called IM23 is creating a tool that predicts and tackles congestion In Oxfordshire.
And in the northern city of York, Inrix is planning to use vehicle tracks to map vehicle ‘paths’ optimising and improving traffic signals in the city. It’s hoped this scheme will allow traffic to flow more freely through the city, reducing journey times, red lights and stress for drivers.
The £1.5 million investment dished out to these three firms is part of the government’s £20 million GovTech Catalyst scheme, which is intended to help “solve local transport issues”. The government hopes the use of tech can help reduce the costs to the economy resulting from congestion by cutting rush hour traffic, as well as improving air quality and road safety for drivers.
Each company had to compete for the funding as part of a government “competition”, and the winners were announced at the end of last week. The winning projects will be managed by The Department for Transport (DfT) for 12 months.
“Congestion isn’t just bad for our environment, productivity and communities – it also has a huge impact on our national economy,” said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. “That’s why, as well as our multi-billion-pound investment in rail and buses to improve connectivity, we are opening up city centre, transport and traffic management to new digital innovators.
“Transport technology is a growing global sector with the potential to help reduce congestion, emissions and improve connectivity. The competition winners show how world class UK transport tech companies are helping millions of people in our towns and cities every day.”
Peter Mildon, chief operating officer of Vivacity Labs, said the company was looking forward to its collaboration with tech firm Siemens to put the project into action.
“Vivacity will be heading a project that looks at how a blend of data sources and predictive Machine Learning can be combined to provide proactive traffic management tools to Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council,” he said. “Vivacity is excited to be working with Siemens for this project, with both companies building on work carried out in Phase 1 of the GovTech Challenge.”
And James Gilchrist, City of York Council’s assistant director for transport, highways and environment, said: “We are thrilled to be pioneering innovative ways of using data to improve traffic management in the city. This will help us to make better informed decisions, reduce congestion, prioritise road space for sustainable transport and help to increase the reliability of bus services.
“We are very excited to have the opportunity to work with Inrix in this GovTech Challenge project to further explore the Performance Analysis Trajectory Help tool. We have seen real benefits with the early prototype, and hope that continuing with this ground-breaking project will lead to a better road network for residents, visitors and businesses. We will also be able to share our lessons learned from the project with other local authorities.”