The Floow Working with SETA to Understand and Inform the Future of Mobility
Over the last two and a half years, The Floow has been part of the consortium of organisations working on a three year SETA project to create technologies and methodologies to change the way mobility is monitored, understood and managed in large metropolitan areas.
Last week, I attended a key project meeting in Milan to provide an update on what the project has achieved so far. Starting in 2016 and due to finish early in 2019, the project is now near completion therefore it is important that we start to look at what our work to date shows and how it can be used to inform future decision-making surrounding mobility and transport.
Working on the project has been a consortium of 15 partners from five countries, including both Sheffield universities, Birmingham City Council, Knowledge Now Limited (all UK), Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands), 5T Torino (Italy) and Aimsum (Spain), with work taking place across three cities - Santander in Spain, Turin in Italy and Birmingham in the UK.
At The Floow, we have mainly been involved in the Birmingham arm of the project, working across a 25km area spanning from the city centre to the airport, to understand urban environments and transport patterns in further detail to help us inform the cities of the future by making them safer, smarter and greener.
Over the course of the SETA project, we have been collecting and making use of anonymised data taken from a number of sources including smartphones, OBDs, in-car electronics, traffic lights and road and pollution sensors to gain a fully rounded picture of traffic, transport and mobility in the city of Birmingham.
By collecting and collating anonymised data from such a wide array of sources, it not only allows us to gain a clear picture of traffic behaviours it also allows us to replace manual collection ‘clipboard studies’. These traditional techniques, still widely in use, are seen to be inefficient, costly and lacking in detailed data for making informed decisions regarding the future of transport and mobility in an urban environment.
By moving away from manual methods towards a more wide scale and evidence-led approach using ‘virtual-sensor’ data, it allows us to understand behaviours which are evident on every individual stretch of road which previously would be impractical to measure.
This granularity of data provides us with useful insights into how traffic moves throughout cities, from main roads to junctions, to understand road usage patterns and discover simple and cost-effective changes which can be implemented by councils and local authorities to have a beneficial impact on efficiency and road safety for all road users.
All this fulfils the project’s aim to help relevant organisations effectively plan for the future of mobility and transport in their local area and make changes which will benefit drivers, mobility and road safety.
The work we have undertaken on this project has contributed to a number of other areas including informing our product development and what we offer to our insurance clients by gaining improved understandings of the different perspectives of mobility. It has also fed into our conversations with central government in meetings with various departments where our evidence and insight is useful in helping inform approaches to transport and infrastructure for the future.
It has also influenced our DataFloow solution, which was launched this year. This new product uses our anonymised mass market data collected from vehicles and mobile sensors to allow us to see a unique picture of road and transport patterns. The opportunity to observe driving behaviours provides us with strong insights and important information to help with traffic modelling, traffic management, long term strategic planning and the optimisation of mobility.
Although, the SETA project is coming to an end, it has provided us, and the other organisations involved, with unique insights which we believe will help local authorities and governments plan for the future of mobility.
By taking the anonymised data we have at our fingertips we can make the world a safer and smarter place for all road users.