Exeter and Devon councils launch smart transport project

Exeter and Devon councils have launched a project to use real-time traffic and weather sensor data to understand what affects people’s travel behaviour

Exeter City Council and Devon County Council have launched a two-year Engaged Smart Transport project which will use a range of sensors, data and information to understand which factors affect the way people travel.

The councils have partnered with a consortium of traffic experts and specialist providers led by IT services provider NTT Data, which will deliver local knowledge, capability and technology.

The project will take real-time data from traffic and weather sensors and combine that with eyewitness and behavioural information to reveal where there is congestion, work out why it is occurring and take action to solve the problems.

Rachel Sutton, lead councillor for Exeter City Development, said the council already uses a range of traffic management measures, yet “traffic levels and journey times remain unpredictable”.

“The Engaged Smart Transport project will see the council engage with NTT Data and the consortium members, as well as the citizens of Exeter, to help traffic managers cut congestion and enable citizens to make travel choices which save time and are better for the city and the environment,” she said.

“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 will use intelligent transport systems from Imtech Traffic & Infra and environmental sensors from Vaisala, which will provide information on road conditions and weather.

A team from the University of Exteter will provide behavioural research into real-time travel decision making, while Black Swan will deliver trend analysis and prediction, as well as social media engagement.

Exeter aims to deliver 12,000 new homes and 60 hectares of new business land by 2026, which will put additional pressure on the city’s infrastructure and public transport. NTT Data will manage the programme and use its smart transport expertise and technology to improve the congestion problems in the city.

Stewart Barr, associate professor in the University of Exeter’s geography department, said the project provides a “unique opportunity” to find ways to reduce traffic congestion.

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