Smart Cambridge initiative launches new journey planning tools using real-time data

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A new mobile travel app and smart wayfinding screens are being launched in Cambridge as part of the Smart Cambridge initiative to help residents, commuters and visitors plan their journeys around one of the UK’s most congested cities.

The innovative journey planning tools using real-time traffic and transport data are being developed by the Smart Cambridge consortium, which is led by Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC) and partly-funded by the Greater Cambridge Partnership, to encourage people to travel more sustainably and be less reliant on private cars.

Free to download to smart phones, the new MotionMap travel app brings together real-time and local timetable information to more accurately predict travel times and suggest the best multimodal routes using a mix of buses, trains, walking and cycling. Developed with Cambridge-based company Building Intellect, the MotionMap app also has a carbon counter, and will be refined using feedback from users. More than 300 people are already using the app and their user experience will inform future improvements.

The new smart screens showing the latest travel updates and useful visitor information are also being trialled at key transport interchanges to make it easier for people to find their way around the city. The first digital wayfinding screens have been officially launched outside Cambridge Station, providing much-needed signposting, travel times, and other useful information, with more screens coming to the Trumpington Park & Ride site over the summer. Smart Panel lobby screens are also going up in the foyers of public buildings and large employers, including CCC’s Shire Hall and AstraZeneca’s Academy House offices, offering specific travel and other information for staff and visitors.

The app and screens are all using real-time travel and other transport data collated through the Intelligent City Platform (iCP) and LoRa (Long-Range) wireless network, developed by the University of Cambridge, together with other data sources such as Google Transit, Twitter feeds, and weather reports.

Bus and train times, traffic monitors, air quality readings and cycle sensors are just some of the thousands of pieces of data being processed and analyzed daily to predict traffic movements and provide real-time information.

“I am delighted to be launching our brand-new Cambridge smart journey app, giving people travelling into and around our great city live updates on the best public transport, cycling and walking journey options to get to their destination; advice that will also help us reduce congestion,” commented Lewis Herbert, leader of CCC and interim chair of the Greater Cambridge Partnership.

“The new app and screens at the station and other city locations will be further developed and the data expanded, but we want these tools in use now, so residents, commuters and visitors can test them out and tell us how they can be made even better. We recently won the accolade of being one of Britain’s top ten smart cities, and this is yet another Smart Cambridge project contributing to keep us at the top, by using data and emerging technology to help people and the city tackle our massive congestion challenge and cut vehicle pollution.”

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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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