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TfL to use artificial intelligence to run London’s road network

Transport for London is seeking input from companies about how it can use data-intensive technologies to predict the impact of road problems across the capital

Transport for London (TfL) is sounding out the market to establish how it can use data and artificial intelligence (AI) to tackle some of the challenges in the capital’s road network.

The idea is to add predictive capability to the organisation’s Surface Intelligent Transport System (SITS) to enhance response to incidents such as roadworks, congestion and other unplanned events.

The enhanced system would be able to accurately forecast the state of the road network after an incident and generate suggested response strategies, while modelling these strategies on the road network to create an effectiveness-based ranking.

This would be the first time AI is used to manage London’s road network. Data would also play a key role in the new version of SITS, which would draw on a wide range of historic and real-time datasets to predict reactions to incidents on the roads.

“We’re working to completely transform how we manage London’s road network to cope with the challenges we all face as a city, from road danger to congestion and toxic air,” said TfL’s director of network management, Glynn Barton.

“Using data and intelligent systems to help us shape our response to incidents will be a fundamental part of this new approach,” he added.

In its market engagement exercise, TfL is particularly interested to hear from companies that have developed systems able to solve problems considering the variables of fluctuating demand, multiple modes of transport, simultaneous incidents and multiple datasets that could be conflicting or be of low accuracy.

Companies can offer suggestions on how TfL could use data and AI to improve SITS through a questionnaire, which is open for responses until 28 October 2019.

As part of the SITS programme, TfL awarded a contract to outsourcer Sopra Steria for the delivery of a single control centre system. Also as part of the programme, TfL signed a contract with Siemens Mobility in 2018 to upgrade the current traffic light control system.

With a view of tackling congestion caused by roadworks, TfL led an initiative in summer 2019, called London RoadLab. In the project, TfL worked with innovation centre Plexal and utility companies such as Thames Water to select pitches submitted by companies aimed at solving some of the biggest road congestion issues seen in London in 2018.

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