Birmingham route to UKs first intelligent city

The Birmingham Post and Digital Birmingham have reported on plans, Digital transport project to be rolled out in Birmingham, for an integrated transport information system that would combine data such as traffic congestion, car parking availability and bus scheduling to provide live real-time information for individuals to plan journeys by computer, mobile phone or GPS.

The proposals have been unveiled by a consortium led by Birmingham Science City Partnership and include Microsoft, Birmingham City Council, Digital Birmingham, Coventry University Enterprises and Virtual Earth developer Shoothill.

The team said the idea of the project was so that, as people travel around the city, the information would be constantly updated, linking public service travel information to in-car systems.
Tim Luft, project manager and key member at Coventry University Enterprises, said the project had been inspired by the thought of making Birmingham one of the “intelligent cities” named by the international Intelligent Community Forum every year. “We would love by 2012 to have an English city win that award, so when the project came up I spoke to a number of authorities. Being in the West Midlands, we wanted it to be a West Midlands city,” he said.

The project builds on ideas and developments such as Matthew Somerville's live train map, Next stop ... visual live train times , a amateur attempt to show live train journeys by linking information from with google maps. The project also supports two of the West Midland region's strengths - digital media and transport technologies and could revolutionise transport in the region.

For example, a would-be traveller located at Birmingham International Airport would be able to find the quickest and most fuel-efficient route to the Hagley Road, avoiding traffic jams and bottlenecks, and discover which is the nearest car park with available spaces. As people travel around the city the information would be constantly updated, linking public service travel information to in-car systems, allowing the driver to respond accordingly.
It would be equally applicable for pedestrians and public transport users, who could use their mobile phones in the same way as a driver would use a sat nav. GPS links would show the walking route to the bu stop and the time of the next bus, or advise an alternative route if the bus is delayed.

The project will build on existing projects such as Help2Travel website and Network West Midlands portal and similar systems such as Transport for London's journey planner. The project however will be the first in the UK and be a pilot to show how to address urban issues related to transport, tourism, security and climate change through the use of information technology.

A trial run based on the A38 this summer is at an advanced stage of discussions showcasing the projects role in easing traffic flow, congestion and carbon emissions. The trial is dependent on securing funding from the European Union and other sources but if successful the project would be rolled out over five years before the team look to widen it's scope.


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