Birmingham and Amey work on new app to avoid red lights

Highways Reporters

An app that helps drivers avoid red lights is being developed in Birmingham after the scheme secured funding from the Government innovation agency InnovateUK.

A collaborative partnership between Birmingham City Council, its highways provider Amey and technology companies won the funding for the 12-month Greenwave pilot project.

The trial scheme started work in April 2017 and will provide fleet vehicle drivers who work for Amey on the council’s highways with an app to monitor traffic signal green timings. The project will receive £410,000 of government funding and cost a total of £690,000, with 12 vehicles involved.

The app, which is expected to be ready for use by the end of the summer, will give audio instructions to drivers much like a sat nav, using data from traffic lights that use SCOOT (Split Cycle Offset Optimisation Technique) - a tool for managing and controlling traffic signals in urban areas.

CheckedSafe is delivering the app, in partnership with Idox (CloudAmber), which manages the Urban Traffic Monitoring Control (UTMC) system that controls the traffic signal timings on behalf of Amey and Birmingham City Council.

Anthony Burgess of Idox (Cloud Amber), said: ‘There is no known solution of this type in existence – which uses data feeds from existing infrastructure to provide drivers with live updates enabling them to change their driving style. We are excited to see what the future will hold for this type of innovative, transport management solution.’

Tony Mathews, transport manager for Amey in Birmingham, said: ‘All of our vehicles are GPS tracked so we can monitor how driving styles impact fuel consumption, and we are excited to see how this trial will help our drivers adapt even further to limit the environmental impact of these essential journeys.’

The plan is for drivers to adapt their speed to 'ride the greenwave' and minimise stops and starts, which should reduce fuel use and also emissions.

Sources close to the project say that it is a massive data challenge, as the drivers have no fixed routes and are not guided by sat-nav meaning the app will have to provide real-time advice to drivers.

They said the learning from the data challenge would be as useful if not more so than the app itself.

As one of a number of cities in England mandated to introduce a Clean Air Zone by 2020, this project is aligned to Birmingham City Council's efforts to improve air quality by reducing the impact from particular types of vehicles.
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