https://innovateuk.blog.gov.uk/2016/08/05/as-our-world-changes-so-do-our-transport-needs/

As our world changes, so do our transport needs

Climate change, globalisation, an ageing population, migration, and worries over security pose major societal challenges to all of us.

Even today, getting from A to B is now an issue for many. Issues such as:

  • delays on the roads
  • overcrowding on the trains
  • unpredictable and unreliable journeys

are driving frustrations and high stress levels in our daily lives and not to mention the impact to businesses

To make matters worse, predictions for the future show the frustrations and impacts to businesses are not likely to go away with:

  • 35% estimated growth in EU passenger mobility by 2018 and 50% increase in freight
  • 101% increase in roll on and roll off ferry traffic by 2030
  • future overcrowding on the trains to increase by 21% by 2035

(source CEBR 'Sizing the transport market' & Frost and Sullivan 'Beyond ITS')

Our transport networks are no longer fit for purpose

As a result of the above, the UK is already facing many challenges in how it gets people to work and goods to the supermarkets. The very industries that rely on transport today such as NHS, logistics and tourism, to name but a few, are likely to become unsustainable in the future under their existing business models, due to their inability to move people and goods in a congested world.

Equally, the challenges facing transport operators and service providers today is being able to meet the needs of their customers in a shifting financial landscape of reducing budgets and increased operational costs and the need to do more for less – sweat the existing asset.

This is not just a major issue for the 21st Century but also for generations to come. The ever-increasing global demand for transport will continue to place increasing demands on the very systems that support it. The problem is that our transport and the infrastructure that supports it have evolved over time. As a result, our transport networks arguably are no longer fit for purpose.

But the UK is looking for innovative solutions

In response to this gloomy picture, the UK is already seeing positive outcomes in disruptive technologies - driving new behaviors towards more innovative solutions.

The ever-sophisticated consumer is now shifting towards more connectivity. A trend towards connectivity is the norm and is driving new behaviours in our society. No longer is it the case where the supplier delivers new technologies and innovations, the connected world is allowing innovation to accelerate at an unprecedented rate. The art of the impossible only a few years back is now possible in today’s connected world.

Connected transport is the future, if businesses are willing to accept it

Connected transport

Connected Transport is about balancing transportation demands through innovative system of systems integration, connecting people and goods more intelligently whilst improving network capacity, effectiveness and cost.

Connected Transport, through systems integration, is embracing this future world of connectivity to connect people and goods more intelligently to transport. However, the future success in this will be driven by the businesses who see the challenge more clearly, empower a culture for innovative ideas and adopt cutting-edge technologies and collaboration.

The vision of connected transport is open collaboration and innovation through an open innovation platform – connecting services and the customer to transport through integrated services as shown in the image below.

Connected transport diagram

Challenges for connected transport

Although this may seem straightforward and logical in a perfect world, it does however face many challenges. In order for connected transport to be fully realised, it is reliant on:

  • private and public data business and commercial models allowing integration
  • the resilience and security of transportation systems, products and services
  • businesses having help to realise new markets in integrated systems
  • UK’s capability of systems design and engineering being developed to deliver new products and services
  • the speed of policy and regulation keeping pace with ever increasing disruptive innovations
  • innovation being introduced to traditional engineering and best practice environments
  • the evidence of value add and benefit of systems integration being determined

With this said, and as mentioned previously, the art of possibilities in this connected world is being seeded in many people’s imaginations.

Imagine these connected transport systems of the future

  1. Smart traffic management systems

Traffic management systems that are integrated through Smart software can overcome delays in inner city traffic flows by:

  • knowing where vehicles are
  • the condition of the infrastructure through condition based monitoring

Vehicles, which communicate through the web, mean limited or no roadside traffic management furniture. Technology already existed where information can be sent to the driver when they need it, at the right time. Imagine the savings to the local authorities: no more need to maintain and install a variety of roadside furniture. Imagine not being bombarded by road signs. To a large extent, this is a self-monitoring and maintaining system.

  1. Infrastructure connected to your transport

Imagine a trip to the hospital where your car parking space is available, your appointment is on time, or information is being provided in advance that it is on time, or if delays have occurred you are informed of the changes.

Imagine how better you could plan your trip and choose the transport that best suits your needs especially if you are disabled; being able to select accessibility.

Not only imagine the benefit to you but your relatives, but not having to travel at peak times could have a benefit to the overall transport networks, not to mention reducing the stress levels and the frustrations.

Innovate UK is supporting business opportunities in connected transport

Innovate UK, through the infrastructure systems sector, is driving connected transport because of the new business growth opportunities. Our objectives are to:

  • establish visions and activities that accelerate existing and new business growth through new markets in mobility products and services
  • turn scientific and academic excellence into economic growth for smarter transportation within the UK and Global markets
  • place the UK as a thought leader in intelligent and urban mobility to attract international investment and growth in the UK
  • build on innovation excellence of systems integration for smarter travel and connected transport systems and services
  • create an open collaborative working environment across the Catapults and innovation networks within infrastructure systems to drive innovative connected transport systems product and mobility services
  • evaluate and deliver funding models to provide incentives for greater systematic integration across emergent businesses for connected transport for the intelligent movement of people and goods

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3 comments

  1. Michael Kenward

    It might be worth reading this earlier research by the Foresight Programme into "smart transport" to see what other people have said on the subject.

    Intelligent infrastructure systems - GOV.UK

    https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/intelligent-infrastructure-systems

    IIS, and ITS (intelligent transport systems) are old names for what is sometimes known as connected transport.

    The Department for Transport was the government sponsor of the Foresight project.

    Disclaimer, I edited most of the Foresight documents and wrote the main reports.

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    • Stephen

      Michael, many thanks for the link very helpful. I will read through them.

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  2. David Marshall

    Whilst the transport network it's self has to innovate so does the supply chain as a whole. Vehicles must become more efficient and economical. Creating choice is essential to moving away from 'old strategies' to deliver. An increase in cycle provision, and freight bikes/cargo bikes could service most CBDs effectively taking the last mile solution to the B2B logistics. I think the cycle supply/alternative green solutions is an area that needs more strategic thinking to foster an industry that's ready to take up the challenge.

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