TS Catapult report shows potential benefits for the UK through better use of transport data

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According to a new report commissioned by the UK’s Transport Systems Catapult (TSC), and using analysis from the Open Data Institute (ODI) and financial consultancy Deloitte, innovation in transport is at risk because data is not being shared across the sector.

The study says that fears around cybersecurity, lack of data literacy skills, and a legacy of viewing transport modes such as rail and road in isolation, are restricting the free flow of information, preventing the UK from unlocking the full potential of its transport network. The report The case for government involvement to incentivize data sharing in the UK intelligent mobility sector concludes that overcoming these barriers could release £14bn (US$17.6bn) of benefits from new innovations by 2025. Technologies such as driverless cars, journey planning apps and smart ticketing are all identified as opportunities that can be fully exploited with a strong data regime that opens and shares as much information as possible, while respecting privacy.

The TSC is calling on government to work closely not only with the Catapult but also with industry to develop a data culture by providing a framework for secure access to data and guidelines for opening and sharing data; this is to be led by a new Mobility Data Hub to help the public and private sector work together and break down these barriers. The report shows that investment in data could lead to faster journeys, lower emissions, improved regional connections, and opportunities for job creation in an emerging technology sector, without the need for massive infrastructure building projects.

The economic, social and environmental benefits from data sharing by 2025, include:

• At least 3,000 new high skilled jobs;

• Faster journeys and less congestion, worth £4bn (US$5bn) per annum;

• Lower emissions equivalent to saving £1bn (US$1.2bn) per annum;

• Safer roads and fewer accidents, worth £4bn (US$5bn) per annum.

“Overcrowding on our rail network, congestion on our roads, and the ongoing struggle with pollution and climate change, can all be addressed by intelligent solutions which make use of the opportunities afforded to us by new technologies,” explained Andrew Everett, chief strategy officer at the TSC.

“However, data is the key which unlocks the door to these innovations and, under the current status quo, data accessibility levels will remain inadequate for the UK to benefit fully. Issues such as cyber security should be tackled head on to overcome this, and a coordinated approach between government and industry will be required to move forward.”

Sir Nigel Shadbolt, chairman and co-founder of ODI, commented, “Data is essential to realize the vision of a future transport system that meets the expectations and exploits the capabilities of the internet age. To help people and goods move easily, cheaply and efficiently across every form of transport, we need data to flow freely too. That data can help everyone make better decisions: passengers, freight companies, transport operators and policymakers. Failure to act on open data will mean poorer quality services, reduced transport connectivity, and a lost opportunity for the UK to use intelligent mobility as a driver for economic growth and social change.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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