UK government offers new funding for councils to improve transportation using new technology

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Having recently announced multimillion-pound investments in major national and regional transportation and infrastructure projects, the UK government is now turning its attention to smaller local authorities.

The government has launched a new £2m (US$2.6m) fund to allow local councils to capitalize on emerging technologies, such as intelligent transportation systems (ITS), in order to deliver better journeys for motorists. Local authorities have been invited by the Department for Transport (DfT) to apply for a share of the money to develop projects to greatly enhance journeys. Councils across England will have until September 30 to submit their bids for the new funding, and successful councils and their schemes will be revealed in November. All projects would be expected to complete by March 2018.

Proposals include using technology that will allow vehicles communicate with each other and roadside sensors (V2X) to provide the drivers with real-time traffic information. Councils will also look at how warnings about changing weather and traffic conditions can be sent directly to vehicles, so drivers can plan ahead, helping deliver quicker, more efficient and safer journeys. As an example of the type of technology the government would like to see deployed, the DfT cites a previous scheme, which is allowing Westminster City Council to build an app that directs drivers to empty parking spaces in central London, and then takes payments automatically for using the spot.

Announcing the new funding, UK Roads Minister, Andrew Jones, said, “I want to deliver better, more enjoyable journeys, and this £2 million fund will help councils invest in new technology to enhance the experience of driving. Britain has a proud history of innovation and I am delighted that councils will be able to use this money to develop systems to make journeys easier and safer. Bids are expected to range between £30,000 and £300,000, and councils are expected to provide at least 5% of their project’s cost.”

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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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