New consortium drives forward congestion-busting project for Exeter

A UK Smart City initiative led by NTT DATA puts Exeter at the heart of intelligent use of data to cut traffic jams

Exeter, UK, 9 December, 2015. Exeter City Council and Devon County Council, working with a consortium led by NTT DATA, a leading global IT services provider, today unveiled a ground-breaking, two-year intelligent transport project for the area. Through the project, the group aims to identify solutions that will alleviate traffic congestion in and around Exeter, a historic city in the county of Devon, in south-west England.

The Engaged Smart Transport project will use real-time traffic and weather sensor data, combined with other data sources such as eyewitness and behavioural information to better understand the factors affecting people’s travel behaviour. It will reveal where and why congestion happens and identify solutions to address these problems. The consortium has been awarded match funding by Innovate, the UK Government’s innovation agency.

NTT DATA will lead the consortium of traffic experts and specialist providers that will deliver a mix of local knowledge, capability and technology. The consortium members and their areas of expertise include:

  • smart transportation expertise and technology, along with programme management and customer experience capabilities from NTT DATA

  • intelligent transport systems from Imtech Traffic & Infra

  • environmental sensors from Vaisala providing information on local weather and road conditions

  • leading behavioural research into real time travel decision making from the University of Exeter

  • trend analysis, prediction and citizen engagement through social media from Black Swan

These capabilities will be teamed with traffic control innovations pioneered within NTT DATA’s research and development labs in Japan, and new UK research investment. Cllr Andrew Leadbetter, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member with special responsibility for Exeter, said; “We are pleased to be involved in this exciting project that will benefit Exeter commuters and residents. Technology is rapidly changing and this is a great opportunity to work with industry experts making best use of the vast amount of data various organisations hold to help manage our transport network.”

Exeter is setting out a growth plan for the city that will deliver 12,000 new homes, 60 hectares of new business land and 40,000 square metres of new retail space by 2026. Increased population and commuter movement will add to pressures on infrastructure and public transport services. Exeter has a central population of 120,000 that already experiences daily congestion as well as one-off spikes caused by events. Exeter has active football and rugby union teams, and hosted three matches as part of the recent Rugby World Cup 2015.

“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,” said Anna Price, head of public sector at NTT DATA. “The Engaged Smart Transport project is a first-time investment by NTT DATA’s R&D department here in the UK and I’m really thrilled to be applying our Japanese smart transportation expertise to helping the people of Exeter.”

“We already use a range of traffic management measures across Exeter. However, traffic levels and journey times remain unpredictable,” said Cllr Rachel Sutton, lead councillor for Exeter City Development. “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, are better for the city and the environment. 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.”

Dr Stewart Barr, from the University of Exeter’s Geography Department and part of the project said: “This project provides the University with a unique opportunity to work with some of the world’s leading data and logistics providers to find ways to reduce traffic congestion in Exeter and to make the city an even healthier and environmentally friendly place to live, whilst becoming more efficient and economically competitive. Through working with the people of Exeter, the research will develop ways to help people use smart technologies in their everyday lives that could have benefits for everyone”.

Understanding how existing road capacity can be managed more effectively is critical for Exeter to deliver this growth. Taking an innovative approach to the use of existing and new data from a range of sources such as sensor technology, social media feedback and the latest traffic algorithm technology, the Engaged Smart Transport project will deliver insight into population movement and provide answers to real-world traffic issues.

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