Digital infrastructureSmart CitiesTfL and Siemens to improve London’s traffic management system

TfL and Siemens to improve London's traffic management system

TfL and Siemens partner to deliver £1bn of benefits through reducing delays for all road users by 2036

Sophisticated software is to be used by Transport for London (TfL) to improve its traffic management system.

Through a 10-year partnership with Siemens Mobility, TfL is seeking to deliver £1bn of benefits through the reduction of delays for all road users by 2036.

The Split Cycle Offset Optimisation Technique (SCOOT), which is the current Urban Traffic Control system in London that aids TfL in the use and management of the road space through the optimisation of traffic light timings, operates on an outdated technology. The newly generated Real Time Optimiser (RTO), developed and maintained by Siemens Mobility, in conjunction with TfL, will replace and build on these current capabilities.

The methodology of SCOOT is simple: with the aid of sensors, it detects traffic and adjusts traffic lights signal timings accordingly. It has sought to reduce the extent of delays (traffic delays are 13% lower than what it would otherwise be) and simultaneously allows more people and goods to move on the capital’s road network. When the sensors detect high levels of congestion, traffic lights give priority to buses, they inform cyclists of segregated and less congested lanes and extend the green pedestrian invitation for citizens.

RTO technology will be able to not only help TfL further in the logistical sphere, but also facilitate citizens to plan their journeys through the provision of open data. Should TfL face a disruptive issue that may be caused by an unplanned incident, planned works or events, the 24/7 control centre of the company will make use of the new sophisticated tools to tackle and rectify the problem as quickly as possible. With regards to how it will aid citizens, the open data will inform road users of current or (un)expected road conditions to support improved journey planning.

Next generation traffic management

Glynn Barton, Director of Network Management, TfL, identifies the new traffic management system as a “game-changer” for people in London, as it will “use new data sources to better manage our road network, tackle congestion, reduce delays for people choosing healthier travel options and improve air quality”.

Wilke Reints, Managing Director at Siemens adds that the system is a “unique opportunity to build a robust, reliable system that will meet the needs of one of the world’s largest cities”.

Data focus

In a GovTech Leaders interview with London CDO Theo Blackwell, he stressed that the “investment in technology in our transport infrastructure is the fundamental way forward” in order to “manage growth (2m more people in the 25 years) with limited extra capacity”. This will be achieved partly through the use of open data.

On a similar theme, TfL has announced that pay as you go fares information is to be added to TfL’s Journey Planner and open data feed. Customers using TfL’s Journey Planner can now see how much a planned journey on public transport in London will cost, following recent upgrades to help make planning journeys easier for customers.

As TfL’s journey planning tool is powered directly from its open data API, the data will also be available to developers free of charge at tfl.gov.uk/open-data and joins an extensive range of TfL data feeds already available.

Ben Gammon, Head of Digital, TfL, states that ‘by being open and transparent with our data, we can strengthen our relationship with our customers, encouraging more people to use public transport and other more sustainable forms of transport such as walking and cycling’, and thus reduce the dire consequences of pollution on the environment and citizens of London.

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