Achieving Environmental Benefits through Data and Digitisation: TRANSPORT Smart Class, Scotland 2023 Retrospective


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The past nine years have been the warmest years since modern recordkeeping began in 1880. Around 80% of UK Councils have now declared a climate emergency. Scotland is the most ambitious nation, aiming for Net Zero by 2045 while other UK nations are targeting 2050. The challenge seems daunting but is there more we could be doing with our data to understand and act faster?

At TRANSPORT Smart Class, Scotland 2023, Andrea Jones – Director of Strategic Accounts at Marston Holdings – addressed the task of digitalising the transport sector and demonstrated how utilising this data will be critical in driving forward change. From monitoring air quality and comprehending enforcement data, to public engagement and messaging, and measuring and reporting on outcomes, Andrea’s presentation on behalf of Project Centre examined a range of case studies from across the Group to identify the wheres, whats and hows of transport data literacy.

Eduardo Moral (Principal Engineer at Project Centre) and Heather Grieve (Strategic Account Director at NSL) added their expert knowledge during the roundtable discussions.

Presentation highlights:

  • The Maturity of Data in Transport – Almost everything we do across the sector can be digitised; Where is your data going, what are you doing with it?; Raw data has very little value, but data combined, contextualised and visualised is priceless; Data literacy will be the most important skill in the workforce by 2030 according to a study by Qlik; How much data does my operation and/or supplier produce? Exabytes, Zettabytes, Yottabytes, Brontobytes, Geobytes?; “Data maturity boils down to how well organisations leverage data for decision making…the majority of authorities and suppliers are still at the data mining stage” and “still don’t have coherent answers to the collected data they have, how best to use this and what the gaps are that will allow (them) to confidently move to the empowerment and innovation stages”;
  • Lewisham School Streets Case Study – By replacing planters and physical barriers with traffic orders and unattended enforcement cameras, objective is to reduce traffic volumes outside schools, favouring pedestrians and cyclists during the school run time; Using dispersion modelling and all available data including traffic counts, this project is estimated to reduce CO2 emissions by 3.55 tonnes and CO2e (‘carbon dioxide equivalent’) by 4.36 tonnes over 5 years and, in total, is predicted to remove over 6.8 tonnes of NOx and 0.5 tonnes of PM2.5, with a benefit to society valued at approximately £627k: A positive contributor to Lewisham’s Air Quality Action Plan, the Climate Emergency Strategic Action Plan 2020-2030 and London’s Environment Strategy;
  • Data Presentation – Visualisation of data through PowerBI, which is a highly configurable reporting tool used to correlate traditionally disparate data to show change and trends over time; Near real time access to the data, data sharing models and (client and third party server) agreements (and well planned and maintained data dictionaries) enable a number of ‘Alert’ dashboards e.g. counts, unique vehicles, number of vehicles failing to comply with a restriction on entering a pedestrian zone etc;
  • Understanding the Data – Pollutant level data taken from Vortex AQ monitoring devices at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff over periods featuring an Wales vs England rugby match and a Coldplay concert (at both times the roads are closed). “Interestingly, Coldplay have promoted their world tour as net-zero, through a combination of renewable energy, sustainable practices and carbon capture. The data suggests there are gaps in the planning, measuring and likely reporting”;

  • Scotland’s Low Emission Zones – Camera technology that will provide enforcement solutions for the Low Emission Zones in 4 Scottish Cities will be transformative when reporting against decarbonisation objectives; Unlike a Clean Air Zone, a LEZ is egalitarian in design as you cannot just pay to access…”All vehicles that do not meet the emissions standards that are published, and subject to change over time based on data modelling and tracking against target, are subject to enforcement” – This is one example of “the difference between the devolved governments influence, where Scotland have a more ambitious carbon reduction target than England”;
  • Glasgow LEZ, Emerging Case Study – Glasgow is first Scottish city to go live with 2nd phase of LEZ, enforcing against more vehicles; Glasgow City Council have launched an online toll to share publicly the progress that is being made in improving AQ, charting changes on NO2 levels; Bus phase saw shift from 19% engines Euro 6 to 100%, indicated to have been the factor driving the reported decrease in NO2 along key corridors; In more recent months, however, the effectiveness of the LEZ has been questioned due to increased NO2 in the centre of Glasgow (especially in Hope Street which has repeatedly had the country’s worst air quality); Currently, GCC are using diffusion tubes and reference modelling (rather than hyperlocal, near real time data samples), so understanding the drivers for this change are more difficult to pinpoint;
  • What do we know? We know that we need to drive down particulate matter (which has a direct impact on human health), reduce Transport related emissions and support people to move to more active travel modes to deliver on key public health and environmental outcomes. We also know there is a lot of evidence out there that these schemes work;
  • Bath Clean Air Zone Case Study – Not without controversy but the incremental changes are positive and by working together and collecting the right data (using the right devices and methods), the data maturity curve can be better navigated: Re Air Quality – NO2 is down by an average of 26% inside Bath’s CAZ and down by an average of 27% in urban areas outside the zone, and all monitoring sites show a decreasing trend; Re Behaviour change – 1500+ applications for financial support to upgrade vehicles, 900 polluting vehicles replaced by the end of 2022 and 71% fewer high polluting vehicles driving in the zone

If you satisfy our regular delegate qualification criteria but were unable to join us in Edinburgh on September 7th for the live in-person event at Riddle’s Court, CLICK HERE and complete the short “Download form” (located at the bottom of the post) to receive a unique link enabling free access to the presentation video recordings and slides (including the film footage and slides from Andrea’s initial presentation).

Those qualifying to receive the rich presentation content from this event include commissioning, procurement, trialling, partnering and policy leads, senior influencers, strategic decision makers and planners from local authorities (e.g. city, borough, metropolitan, district and county councils); public transport operators; regional transport partnerships, sub-regional transport bodies, combined authorities, integrated transport authorities and passenger transport executives; highways authorities and road operators; government and supporting national transport agencies; fleet operators, parking operators, prime contractors etc.

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TRANSPORT Smart Class, Scotland 2023

On September 7th we will be casting a spotlight over Scotland, hosting our speakers discussions on how the latest digital innovations can help overcome the transport and mobility challenges faced by the city-regions of Glasgow & Clyde Valley, Edinburgh & South East Scotland, Stirling, Tay, Aberdeen, Inverness & Highlands, and beyond.


   Edinburgh, UK

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