In the UK, Oxfordshire County Council’s research and innovation team, iHub, and Alchera Data Technologies have completed phase two of a New Mobility project designed to reduce traffic congestion and pollution by using real-time data insights.

In phase one of the project, Alchera undertook a research project with control room users and then fused floating vehicle data from TomTom with existing under-road counters by CA Traffic to successfully detect abnormal traffic conditions, which enabled OCC’s transport team to react faster to adverse conditions across the road network.

Phase two developed a functioning Transport Data Exchange specifically designed for public sector data analysts containing mobility data from BODS, ABODS, local bus companies, traffic sensors, CCTV networks ANPR cameras and more, with a £1 million small business research initiative (SBRI) grant.

Alchera’s AI-powered, cloud-based software platform provides real-time data on the movement of vehicles and pedestrians around cities and major infrastructure. Machine learning algorithms make use of existing city sensors and camera networks to deliver real-time data, allowing operators to develop new dynamic and smart city offerings.

“Finding a way to ensure all of Oxfordshire’s transport systems have access to the same data on which to make real-time decisions is critical,” says Ruth Anderson, Future of Mobility team leader at OCC’s iHub. “We can’t possibly hope to build intelligent infrastructure if all the systems are using different data. Alchera’s data hub, Alpha, gives us the ability to coordinate all our transport systems’ data needs, ensuring consistent analysis across the board both in real-time and historically to understand the impact of decisions.”

Laura Peacock, iHub manager at Oxfordshire County Council, says: “The inclusion of accurate, real-time mobility data will become increasingly important in the operation of advanced transport systems of the future. It’s great to see companies like Alchera bringing exciting new technologies that will change the game; their approach has huge potential. We should expect to see some disruptive dynamic business models emerge off the back of this.”

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

As well as work to enable connected and autonomous vehicles on 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.

Anna Jordan, co-founder of Alchera Technologies, says: “When you are trying to deal with complex, congested cities, being able to react to situations in real-time is key. Our largest system integration combines thousands of sensor sources and performs hundreds of thousands of measurements every day. This represents the only demonstration of absolute, real-time traffic counts and classifications, at city scale, in the UK today. Data in the system is handled in a fully transparent and auditable way – recognising that data ownership and usage will be critical in future smart cities.”

The smart cities solution uses an AI-powered software platform to give absolute, real-time data on vehicle and pedestrian movements around cities and major infrastructure. Its tech makes this possible at a lower cost, larger scale, and with greater trust than current solutions.

The project was funded with a share of £1.25 million in SBRI funding from the BEIS GovTech Catalyst Round 3, running from April 2021 to March 2022.

Images: Adobe Stock

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