Guidance published for local bids to £20m ITS cash pot

28/02/2024
Chris Ames

The Department for Transport (DfT) has released guidance to help English local authorities and the supply chain with bids to win a share of the £20m Intelligent Traffic Management Fund (ITMF).

The funding is being managed by the Transport Technology Forum (TTF) and involves a challenge process running from April to July with funding awarded and delivered in September and October respectively.

It will provide capital cash to allow technology and services to be procured but not revenue funding for ongoing operations.

The TTF is aiming to fund about 10 to 12 consortia of authorities and suppliers - suggesting that each could get around £2m - although the guidance states awards of 'between £500,000 and £2m will be made to successful applicants'.

While ITMF solutions should benefit traffic management, 'the ultimate aim of ITMF is to provide real-world showcases of new technologies'.

These ‘beacon sites’ are 'expected to propose solutions that demonstrate the use of emerging trends in computing and data science including AI and machine learning, complex data processing, analysis and modelling, and new and advanced forms of detection and monitoring'.

Applicants should consider the future operation of their projects as ‘business as usual’ including for example opportunities to access new revenue streams or realise increased efficiencies. 

'It is envisaged that local authorities applying for ITMF will have assembled delivery consortia to support their bids, which should include SMEs where possible. Authorities should be aiming to deliver innovative but practical and workable solutions that demonstrate the application of new technology to corridor and region-wide traffic optimisation,' the guidance document states.

Speaking at an industry event this week, TTF manager Darren Capes, who is intelligent transport systems policy lead at the DfT, said the ITMF aims to 'allow us to start to think about the next generation of technologies’.

He explained that the technology currently in use, while ‘very good, solid and reliable’, has evolved from something that started in the 1970s and is ‘very traditional’.

‘But there are lots of opportunities out there,’ he added. ‘There are lots of opportunities to think about the use of AI and machine learning, to think about the use of new data sources, to think about how we use technologies from other sectors.’

Mr Capes said: ‘We want to fund projects that demonstrate change that demonstrate the best of what’s out there.

‘Local authorities are always better at buying things they can see. And if we want to see technology move forward and to see new technologies used widely across the country, the best way we can do that is to establish some sites and allow people to come along, kick the tyres, have a play with it, see how it works and then maybe take it back to their own authorities and do something similar.’

English highway authorities are currently waiting to hear whether they have won a share of £40m to help them update their traffic signal equipment, part of an overall pot of £70m of Government funding launched last Autumn that includes the ITMF.

All English councils and combined authorities outside London were able to apply for a share of £20m from each of two funds – the Traffic Signals Obsolescence Grant (TSOG) and Green Light Fund (GLF).

The remaining £10m of the £30m TSOG is being distributed to authorities through the 2023/2024 highway maintenance block.

Officials have been battling to keep to the timetable for sharing out the cash, after 118 of the 121 eligible areas applied and the DfT is due to publish an indicative list of the successful authorities by the end of the month, via the TTF.

The cash is to be spent on a range of solutions, including upgrading systems, replacing unreliable and obsolete equipment, and tuning up signals to better reflect current traffic conditions.

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