Oxfordshire County Council is embracing a data-driven geospatial approach to tackle its future transport needs - from where to expand roads and build new cycle lanes to easing commuter congestion and pedestrian zones - by signing a partnership with big data company GeoSpock.
Like many UK regions, Oxfordshire towns and cities struggles with congestion, isolation and other transport-related issues as the infrastructure is often not designed for the scale and frequency of modern passenger journeys.
The current transport planning tool has a number of limitations. Firstly, it was developed in the 1970s and does not incorporate any of the latest geospatial technology. Secondly, the current approach leverages data from a limited sample and therefore does not provide an exact, real-time and fluid picture of transport in the city.
Thirdly, the vehicle-based approach does not account for multi-modal journeys, for example, those that use more than one method of transport (cycling, bus, train, walking, etc). And finally, the tool requires expertise from third-party organisations to operate the model, resulting in high costs to operate and, due to the lack of control, an inherent lack of flexibility.
The new platform being developed by GeoSpock, and the Box5 consortium, specifically addresses each of these issues – using real-time data, incorporating multi-modal transport options and being intuitive enough to be operated by the council members without the assistance of third-party consultants.
The aim of the project is not only to develop a unique transport solution, but also to forge a new business and revenue model for the public sector.
As a cloud-based solution, developed and operated on Amazon Web Services, it can be licensed and deployed quickly and efficiently to new geographical locations by other cities and county councils in the UK and globally.
Above the benefits to the people of Oxfordshire, it is claimed that the project will also benefit the council and central government, which as committed £1.4 million to its development.
Oxfordshire County Council head of innovation Llewellyn Morgan said: "We are constantly looking to embrace exciting new innovations that can improve our communities for the long-term.
"Geospatial data has the ability to change the way we view city planning. We believe the project with GeoSpock will act as an example for other city councils and municipalities, not just in the UK, but around the world to follow."
Geospock chief executive Richard Baker added: "The Council must be applauded for pioneering a new approach to technology investment that will bring benefits to citizens for decades to come.
"This project has the potential to completely change the city and the way we view public sector investment – no longer will it lag behind business, waiting for solutions to become affordable. They will be rewarded for investing in technology that makes a real difference."