Mark SayManaging EditorThursday 21 September 2017

Oxfordshire works on intelligent journey planner

App to encourage alternatives to traveling by car scheduled for launch within next two months

Oxfordshire County Council is supporting the development of an intelligent journey planner to become available to the public on its website and as a mobile app.

Empty street in Oxford city centreJames Golding-Graham, the council’s principal innovation and research officer, told UKAuthority that it is a step to improve transport in the county and will incorporate the possibilities for cycling and walking as well as the use of public transport.

The authority has been working with a local consultancy named ZipAbout to incorporate real time data from its traffic management centre into the planner, along with data from sources such as bus and rail companies.

The app will be able to react with location data from users’ smartphones to provide real time guidance on their best journey, although Golding-Graham said this will come from the reactions with mobile networks’ nodes rather than the more precise GPS.

“We don’t want to track people, but we can get some information on travel patterns to provide guidance,” he said.

He added: “The aim is to provide a multi-module journey planner that learns from users. There are some others around but this will go beyond public transport, and includes encouraging people to use the local park and rides.”

He said it is on course to become available in six to eight weeks, with the app initially developed for iOS but with an Android version to follow soon after.

Intelligent choices

Golding-Graham told the Smart Summit 2017 conference that the work on the planner is aimed at helping people to make intelligent choices about their travel and to support the long term aim for a radical change in travel patterns.

One of the key parts of the effort has been obtaining information on what is happening in the car parks and on the streets in and around Oxford. The city and county councils plan to introduce a zero emission zone in the city centre by 2020, and Golding-Graham said he believes there should be a long term move towards reducing car travel around cities.

“From my perspective, getting people out of cars, onto mass transit, onto bikes and walking is a solution that has to work for everyone,” he said.

Oxfordshire has been among the leaders in working on smart transport solutions. Earlier this year the county council joined the Waze traffic data exchange to obtain access to real time data on traffic speeds, accidents and disruptions; and it has joined a consortium with Oxford Brookes University and the Oxford Internet Institute to work with Google to utilise data from mobile devices running on Android.

Image by Kurtis Garbutt, CC BY 2.0 through flickr