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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.

About NTT DATA
NTT DATA is a leading IT services provider and global innovation partner headquartered in Tokyo, with business operations in over 40 countries. Our emphasis is on long-term commitment, combining global reach with local intimacy to provide premier professional services varying from consulting and systems development to outsourcing. For more information, visit www.nttdata.com.

About Black Swan
Black Swan creates better outcomes through technology and the power of prediction. Black Swan helps clients find insights and solutions that create an edge for their business. It analyses consumer behaviour using public and private data, then builds cutting edge technology to create better outcomes for clients.  Launched 4 years ago, and a Sunday Times Tech Track “one to watch”, Black Swan employs 200 people and has offices in the UK, USA, Hong Kong, Hungary and South Africa. www.blackswan.com.

About Imtech Traffic & Infra UK and Ireland
A leading provider of solutions and services that solve transport, public lighting, infrastructure and telecommunication problems. Working across the Urban and Inter Urban environments, we deliver benefits to stakeholders and enable government goals and requirements to be achieved. With experienced and expert teams, we work with private and public sector clients to deliver on the challenges surrounding journey time reliability, the management of congestion and the integration of infrastructure networks.

About the University of Exeter
The University of Exeter is a Russell Group university that combines world-class research with very high levels of student satisfaction. Exeter has over 19,000 students and is one of the global top 100 universities according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2015-16, positioned 93rd. Exeter is also ranked 7th in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016, 9th in the Guardian University Guide 2016 and 10th in The Complete University Guide 2016. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), the University ranked 16th nationally, with 98% of its research rated as being of international quality. Exeter was named The Times and The Sunday Times Sports University of the Year 2015-16, in recognition of excellence in performance, education and research. Exeter was The Sunday Times University of the Year 2012-13.
 
The University has invested strategically to deliver more than £350 million worth of new facilities across its campuses in the last few years; including landmark new student services centres - the Forum in Exeter and The Exchange on the Penryn Campus in Cornwall, together with world-class new facilities for Biosciences, the Business School and the Environment and Sustainability Institute. There are plans for further investment between now and 2016. www.exeter.ac.uk

About Vaisala
Vaisala is a global leader in environmental and industrial measurement. Building on 79 years of experience, Vaisala contributes to a better quality of life by providing a comprehensive range of innovative observation and measurement products and services for chosen weather-related and industrial markets. Headquartered in Finland, Vaisala employs approximately 1600 professionals worldwide and is listed on the NASDAQ OMX Helsinki stock exchange. www.vaisala.com  www.twitter.com/VaisalaGroup

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Source: Kana Inagaki, 2015, “Japanese know-how reveals Vatican’s treasures”, Financial Times, 11th March. 
Used under licence from the Financial Times.
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