Oxfordshire moves into phase two of the GovTech Catalyst programme to improve traffic information

Oxfordshire’s road users could see a technological revolution in the coming years that could involve traffic information being used to help them to get around more easily with the launch of the second phase of a government-backed research project.

The Oxfordshire launch of phase two of the GovTech Catalyst initiative on work to transform the existing Oxfordshire traffic management system will allow two new and complementary technology solutions to be developed and completed by June 2022.

The GovTech Catalyst funding has allowed the council to support Alchera Technologies and City Science with £500,000 each to develop a system fit for the introduction of connected and autonomous vehicles as well as other new transport options, such as electric vehicles.

The two partners were chosen after bids submitted by five suppliers. Alchera impressed the council with its approach to integrating multiple data sources and City Science with its approach to system integration and user interfaces. The work by the partners will be focused on developing proofs of concept that bring together a variety of transport data sources held by the county council.

Tim Spiers, Director of IT, Digital and Transformation at Oxfordshire County Council, said: “The challenge is to be ready for the new wave of transport. That means different and cleaner power sources and brand-new technology such as computer assisted transport.

“Oxfordshire is also the first council to include connected and autonomous vehicles in its local transport plan. These vehicles can be anything including cars, bicycles, e-scooters, vans and buses.

“As challenge owners, we look forward to working with both suppliers over the next few months to develop proof of concept products that will help the county council as the highway authority to meet our obligations under the Traffic Management Act and be ready to support all forms of new mobility from active travel to autonomous vehicles.”

Anna Jordan, Head of Operations for Alchera Technologies, said: “We’re excited to work with Oxfordshire County Council to enable more data-driven mobility infrastructure and provide the tools to deliver its game-changing smart transport programme. Data will play a key role in the future of transport and how we move around, especially as lockdown restrictions begin to ease and activity across cities, towns and transport networks surge back to pre-COVID rates. “To manage this change, making dynamic decisions while adapting to new travel patterns and co-ordinating growing networks of new and existing mobility options will be key. Public and private transport authorities can now rely on Alchera’s tools to interpret and react to data from multiple sources, for accurate, real-time decision making. Ultimately, this will enable transport networks to become more seamless, sustainable and resilient than ever before.” 

Laurence Oakes Ash, Chief Executive of City Science, said: “City Science is delighted to be continuing our work with Oxfordshire County Council in helping it transform traffic management. There are several challenges preventing desired progress in the network management market, in particular, limiting seamless linkage between legacy systems and advanced opportunities emerging from new mobility.

“Our solution allows secure access to the information of existing legacy systems. This means that we can create a configurable customer interface providing a seamless coordination and integration of multi-modal control of existing and new mobility. Developing effective, scalable, and net-zero solutions to transport planning and infrastructure is the reason City Science exists.”

The systems developed will lead to a prototype system that will be capable off offering transport data to technology development companies and the public.

As well as work to enable connected and autonomous vehicles on our roads, other developments that could emerge from the research are live data apps on transport flows and patterns. The research involved and the final product will also enable better collaboration within the council on data sharing work on transport.

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