Lane rental funds new tech to cut jams

12/08/2021
Chris Ames

Transport for London (TfL) is set to start using new technology from two UK start-ups to reduce disruption caused by roadworks and unplanned incidents.

It said the technology ‘will make a real difference to keeping people safe, helping to cut congestion and cleaning up London's air’.

TfL has now awarded contracts to samdesk and Immense and is now working with the firms to prepare the new technology for use on the capital's road network ‘in the coming months’.

Immense uses simulation technology that models roadworks to understand their impact on the capital's road network before they take place. The software can provide TfL and utilities staff with information on predicted congestion impacts, increases in emissions and the safety impacts of planned roadworks.

This information can then be used to inform people in London about predicted impacts on their intended journey.

Immense CEO Robin North said: ’We believe our capability will help to assess impacts and inform better roadwork planning across the TfL network and in turn, contribute to keeping London moving.’

Software from samdesk leverages artificial intelligence and real-time anonymised social media data to detect emerging disruptions, giving TfL staff a faster and more comprehensive insight into incidents unfolding across the transport network. TfL said that having early access to information about incidents across London will help it respond to them more quickly.

James Neufeld, CEO of samdesk, said: 'In the time that TfL has been piloting our platform, we've already seen strong numerical results. From fast rerouting of buses due to building fires to spotting platform overcrowding, our partnership is already making London a more efficient and safer city.'

The selection of the two firms follows the launch by TfL in 2019 of an innovation challenge called RoadLab, which called on UK innovators to develop technology that could make roadworks in the capital 'safer, smarter and more accessible'.

Nine innovators were chosen to go through to a ten-week programme, where their proposed technology was trialled and developed with the support of London's major utility companies and London Councils.

The programme was funded by TfL's Lane Rental scheme, which charges roadworks companies for digging up London's busiest roads at busy times.

Rikesh Shah, TfL's head of commercial innovation, said: 'Our RoadLab programme has shown how the public and private sector can work together to create smart solutions to London's transport problems.

'The technology developed by both samdesk and Immense builds on the great results we achieved following the research and development work with during RoadLab.

'This delivered nine innovative solutions in 10 weeks, an astounding effort for both the public and private sector which we hope to build on in future innovation challenges.'

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