A new guide launched today by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) UK will help local authorities make use of new technologies, such as big data analytics and cloud computing, to revolutionise their local transport systems while also reducing costs.

In the current political and financial environment, where local authorities are increasingly strapped for cash, the guide illustrates how some local authorities have used technology to improve their transport systems while managing, and in some cases reducing, costs.

The guide sets out some of the advantages new technologies can bring in solving existing and future transport problems. Examples range from smartphone apps to determine road and cycle path conditions, to Bluetooth systems that allow transport operators and planners to analyse journeys across multiple transport modes in near real-time. It also discusses some of the important issues when implementing these new solutions, including open standards, security and privacy issues.

Potentially dramatic changes in procurement as travel and transport systems become increasingly based around internet technologies are also outlined. Traditional methods of ownership and operation can be replaced by buying systems as services, relying on cheap communications media such as remote hosting or ‘cloud’ solutions.”

Also highlighted in the guide are some local authorities who are already embracing new technologies. These include:

  • Dublin City Council, using smartphones and tablets to better manage traffic technology
  • Sunderland City Council, working with the Met Office, to run a transport and weather information pilot to improve traffic and travel throughout the region
  • Hampshire County Council, introducing a smarter street lighting system for over 100,000 lights and signs, which has reduced Hampshire’s CO2 emissions by 4,000 tonnes – the equivalent to the CO2 emitted from 1,600 cars per year
  • Milton Keynes City Council, from December 2014, replacing its existing diesel buses with a new fleet of electric buses that will run seven days a week

Miles Elsden, Chief Scientist, Department for Transport, says: “Given today’s challenging financial environment, local authorities are finding it increasingly difficult to deliver the transport systems that people need. This new guide gives a comprehensive overview of the potentially cost-saving new technologies available for local transport, which will hopefully encourage more local authorities to take a fresh approach to the way the plan and procure for transport in the future.”

Darren Capes, Institution of Engineering and Technology explains: “Recent advances in transport technologies offer excellent opportunities for local authorities to deliver transport services more effectively and efficiently – but there are a number of barriers to overcome, from lack of awareness of what is possible to the need for new, more flexible procurement.

“This guide aims to open local authorities’ eyes to the new world of possibilities out there when it comes to developing their transport systems – and to the opportunities new technologies present to reduce costs.”

The Guide can be downloaded here.