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October 24, 2014

5 UK Internet of Things transport projects

Innovations in IoT are making the transport sector more intelligent.

By Amy-Jo Crowley

1. London City Airport

London City Airport

The airport is currently testing how the IoT can change a passenger’s experience of catching a flight.

Back in March, retail developer Milligan and technology firm LivingPlanIt won £800,000 of funding from Innovate UK, formerly known as the Technology Strategy Board, to create a network of sensors and data for existing passengers at London City.

The technology runs off Living PlanIT’s urban operating system, which enables apps and devices to work together.

The IoT applications so far include location tracking, measuring journey time and other special offers.

For instance, passengers who pre-order food online or through their smartphone could have it delivered to them as they arrive at the departure lounge, while retailers can track when a passenger arrives at the airport and monitor their behaviour to send customised offers and ads.

Facial recognition software is also being used at London City, helping it monitor where passengers are and predict and prevent queues. It can also track passengers and their luggage at the same time, so if you find yourself missing your plane, your luggage won’t get boarded.

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2. Smart parking

Westminster parking

Westminster’s council, in collaboration with technology firm Smart Parking, began installing 3,000 infra-red sensors in ‘paid-for’ and disabled parking bays on 20 January, which are expected to cut down on congestion and carbon emissions.

The deployed infra-red sensors detect if a car is parked over them, and then verify whether or not the parking spot is unoccupied.

The ‘ParkRight app’, which is currently available for iOS and Android devices on the Apple Store and Google store, then offers drivers with a real-time map of available parking and direct them to a vacant space.

The rollout follows a pilot project in which 189 sensors were installed in five London streets including Saville Row, Jermyn Street and St John’s Wood High Street.

If the rollout proves successful, Westminster said it would consider extending the service to the 7,000 other parking bays in the borough.

The initial phase of the project costs £889,395 and is set to be completed three years.

3. London Underground

London Underground

The rail system is testing IoT technology on escalators, lifts and rail tracks to improve customer service for passengers at reduced costs.

The scheme is being implemented by CGI and Telent, the Tube’s equipment maintenance contractor, using Microsoft’s Azure Intelligent Systems services.

The software system is expected to improve customer service levels on tubes and reduce the cost of running the rail support network.

This will be done by streamlining manual monitoring processes, securing and integrating disconnected systems, and spotting equipment issues in real-time.

4. Smart motorway

Smart motorway

The UK government’s Highways Agency selected infrastructure firm Balfour Beatty during the summer to transform the M60 and M62 in Greater Manchester into a ‘smart motorway’.

The £184m contract is expected to improve capacity, reduce congestion and shorten journey times for motorists by controlling traffic flows using real-time monitoring.

The project, which will employ 1,000 construction workers at its height, is being carried out by engineering group Costain, Carillion, a provider of support services, and joint venture Bam Nuttall and Morgan Sindall.

Andrew Wyllie, CEO of Costain, added: "The upgrading of our road network infrastructure is essential to maintaining and improving connectivity amongst the various regions of the UK, and thus to enabling the nation’s economy to grow.

The scheme will be managed through a collaboration agreement, allowing the firms to share knowledge and best practice.

5. Gatwick airport

Gatwick Airport

London Gatwick Airport is also looking to make services for passengers more intelligent via the Internet.

In collaboration with London City, they’re testing beacon technology, video analytics and other applications to deliver personalised content for passengers on their phones.

Gatwick’s CIO Michael Ibbitson told CBR in June: "London City and Gatwick have similar shareholders so we obviously work close with them. In fact, last week I had a meeting about beacon technology with London City because they’ve done some really interesting things. We don’t unify IT but we do share ideas and other trials."

He added: "Some of the things they’ve trialled are really interesting and we’ll probably implement some of them here at Gatwick, and some of the ideas that we’ve implemented, we would imagine they would implement at London City."

He said they are currently looking closely at how passengers could take advantage of beacon technology, which delivers discounts, promotions and other alerts to smartphones as users walk past stores and restaurants.

"I know London City has done some things in this space having some apps and trialling some beacons and looking at CCTV video analytics and how that feeds in." he said.

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