Smart Transport

Data: what are the the opportunities and barriers?

In our connected world, data has a huge role to play – and if channelled in the right direction it can be one of our greatest assets, reports David Fowler

In today’s mobile and connected economy, data is constantly being generated and collected. 

Much has been made of the potential benefits of harnessing this data and of the need for data to be ‘open’ or freely available to app developers or anyone who wants to use it. 

Freely available data is expected to underpin mobility as a service (MaaS) and intelligent mobility generally.

It will make the mass take-up of electric vehicles (EVs) possible and will encourage sustainable mobility and help reduce congestion and improve air quality. 

Transport modelling will be based on real figures for passenger or traffic flows and, thus, be more accurate.

Data will make more bespoke transport services possible, improving mobility and access to public services for disadvantaged groups.

The potential

A range of initiatives illustrates how transport planners and policymakers are seeking to unlock the potential of data...

Bus Open Data: The Buses Services Act 2017 included open data provisions intended to make it easier for passengers to use buses, move between different modes of transport and get access to timetables, fares and routes.

This February the first stage of the Buses Open Data Digital Service (BODDS) went live, providing app developers and passengers with access to timetable information for every local bus service in England. 

In the second phase, expected next year, automatic vehicle location data and fare information will be added.

The location data will track the positions of buses in any given area, across the whole of England, in real time, updated every 30 seconds.

Having the data in a single place will make it easier to use in travel planning apps. 

Smart charging: Freely available data will also be essential to allow EVs to make the transition from a niche product to mass acceptance.

Both interoperability and the management of smart charging depend on the sharing of data.

The first of the taskforce’s three key priorities was “agreeing common standards and codes of practice to enable interoperability and the sharing of data within the EV sector and with the electricity system.

MaaS in Manchester: Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) plans to demonstrate the potential of its version of MaaS, in support of its aim for 50% of all journeys to be made by public transport, walking and cycling.

It will demonstrate how MaaS and other mobility initiatives can meet the needs of users in urban and semi-rural areas, and explore how the public and private sector can collaborate to achieve an integrated and inclusive transport system.

The Department for Transport strategy: A report from the Open Data Institute (ODI) and Deloitte for Transport Systems Catapult (TSC)
concluded the free flow of transport data could underpin the development of new mobility solutions and sustainable transport systems.

It estimated annual benefits of nearly £14 billion by 2025.

But it warned this is at risk because data is not being shared in the transport sector, because of concerns about privacy and cost, as well as closed cultures. 

The recommendations covered secure data access, reducing the costs of data sharing and shifting cultures towards sharing and openness.

Read the full article on Data: what are the the opportunities and barriers? from the Smart Transport Journal


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