Anonymised data from the O2 mobile phone network is being used as part of a series of new government-funded trials to help Thames Valley local authorities (LAs) plan improvements to air quality, public health, road surfaces, traffic flow and energy infrastructure.
Funded by the Department for Transport through the £22.9m ADEPT SMART Places Live Labs Programme, the Thames Valley Berkshire Live Lab trials are investigating how technology could transform local places and improve the way people live and work in Berkshire.
Led by Reading Borough council and supported by six LAs, the Thames Valley Berkshire Live Lab includes five trials that will use technology to help shape future improvements with issues like potholes, traffic congestion, pollution and other health risks.
In a model set to help local authorities plan smarter towns, the trials combine movement data collected from anonymised, aggregated O2 mobile connections with anonymised information from other sources, including air quality sensors and cameras mounted on refuse trucks.
As mobile devices connect to different masts, they create data footprints – and O2 Motion is a service that can anonymise, aggregate and extrapolate these footprints to help LAs gain a picture of where and how people travel around the local area. The Thames Valley Berkshire Live Lab is taking this data and overlaying it with demographic and behavioural insights. This can help LAs understand more about crowd movement trends and profiles, and ultimately shape future town planning. Data insights from O2 Motion never allow identification or mapping of individuals and operate within strict privacy guidelines, says O2.
Sergio Budkin, Director of Market Development, said: “Anonymised, aggregated data about how we move around can help councils pinpoint the most congested transport routes, and show exactly which roads need improving (while also highlighting), exposure to dangerous air pollution, and how residents can make greener choices. And it allows LAs to make informed improvements, cut carbon emissions and make life better for residents and businesses alike.”
The Thames Valley Berkshire Live Lab projects span the following areas:
• Air Quality: O2 has introduced software company GPC Systems to combine anonymised, aggregated O2 Motion movement data with findings from Siemens air quality monitors to measure air quality and public exposure to harmful pollutants. This provides valuable insight into how many people are affected, for how long, and on what types of journeys. The project will then look at encouraging healthier and more sustainable ways of getting around.
• Road Surfaces: GPC will use a combination of anonymised crowd movement data from O2 Motion, road usage information from Siemens, and analysis from 3D cameras mounted on refuse trucks to map the most heavily used local routes with the worst road surface quality. This will help LAs prioritise improvements (e.g. fixing potholes).
• Traffic Flow: Siemens will use O2 Motion data to gain a real-time picture of traffic and explore new, tech-driven ways of easing it.
• Health: Space Syntax will analyse O2 Motion crowd movement data alongside road usage and air quality data from Siemens to explore how town layouts impact social issues and public health risks (including loneliness, frailty and obesity). This means LAs can see where the issues are now, and where public health costs are likely to come from in the future
• Energy: Smarter Grid Solutions will help create a dynamic energy management platform that includes energy for local buildings. O2 has also brought onboard smart charging specialist ev.energy, which has partnered with Hubject, to provide insights on charging and usage behaviours for electric vehicles. This will help LAs get a clearer understanding of current and future trends around EVs – such as ownership, usage and demands on public infrastructure.