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Experts from the University of Exeter are taking part in a new initiative that will put the city at the heart of intelligent use of data to cut traffic jams.
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New consortium drives forward congestion-busting project for Exeter

Experts from the University of Exeter are taking part in a new initiative that will put the city at the heart of intelligent use of data to cut traffic jams.

The University, working with Exeter City Council and Devon County Council as well as a consortium led by NTT DATA, a leading global IT services provider, will be part of 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.

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.

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”.

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.

“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.”

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.

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.

Date: 10 December 2015

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