I joined AppyWay in 2018 right at the beginning of their journey into kerbside management and data sharing. Even in those early days, when AppyWay was still AppyParking, data standardisation was at the core of our vision and it’s what powers our mobile app and data APIs. This was also central to the creation of our award-winning platform and traffic order management solution. As a company we had set out to digitise and standardise the UK’s kerbside and quickly realised the size and complexity of the issue.
Challenges for local authorities
Through their designated responsibility, local authorities up and down the country have Traffic Regulation/Management Order (TRO) data but it’s not in one set format. Many hold this data digitally in varying GIS data formats and systems, some even still hold this information on reams and reams of paper tucked away in steel cabinets.
In my role as Head of City Partnerships, I have and continue to see, first hand, the challenges that local authorities, sub-national authorities and other traffic order stakeholders face in having to deal with inconsistent, siloed traffic order information. This information is difficult for humans to understand, often even challenging the most astute traffic order professionals, let alone making it a huge mountain to climb for digital systems to ingest and utilise.
Local authorities are under financial pressure to continue delivering services with an ever-reducing fund and this lack of standardisation compounds the issue and is an unnecessary waste of time and resource in this age of technology. Importantly, it stifles innovation and collaboration between local authorities and technology providers which could address wider challenges we face as a global community.
Challenges for the private sector
A lack of standardisation has meant essential system integrators such as enforcement and cashless payment providers are struggling to work efficiently with authorities because the data is not in a machine readable format. An example is with recent Ordnance Survey mapping transformation, which would require GIS data to be updated in bulk, but with the siloed set-up, this was not an option, which further hindered an authority’s ability to process, manage and provide consistent access to this vital data.
Bulk and large scale updates of TRO data is something we have tackled at AppyWay and are able to do via our Traffic suite, with updates ranging from whole CPZ changes to national data transformations. Whilst this is exciting news for users of our traffic order suite such as Dorset, Southwark and Haringey, many authorities around the country will need to undertake the labour intensive, time consuming process of updating their data.
There is growing pressure to serve TRO data in a way that consumers, fleets, and innovators can use to find solutions and address pressing concerns like rising emissions and the climate emergency.
The private sector is desperate for access to standardised TRO data. From navigation to optimisation, developers and innovators are primed and ready with ideas that would enable towns and cities to thrive but with data inaccessible, organisations are being forced to collect TRO data manually. Collecting data in this way means it can get outdated quickly and gives local authorities no control when out of date information is shared with the public.
There is a light at the end of tunnel
It’s certainly not all doom and gloom, behind the scenes much is being done to shape the future of TRO data, particularly in the realm of digitisation and standardisation. August last year saw the DfT publish their study into the processes and practices of Traffic Regulation Orders, including suggested areas for improvement to the legislative process in England. Driven by the study’s recommendations, the DfT have begun a Traffic Regulation Order Data Model (TRO-DM) Alpha to develop a TRO data publication and distribution system.
The Alpha is currently underway and its outcomes yet to be published. We were fortunate enough to contribute some of our expertise and experience as a TRO stakeholder from both perspectives as a technology platform supplier and a data provider to this project as SME partner to project lead Valtech. We look forward to sharing more details on our contributions in the very near future.
Here at AppyWay, we know the possibilities from having standardisation traffic order data are endless. In the immediate future we can look forward to improvements within driver apps and further optimisations made to how drivers and fleets move and park around towns and cities. Looking slightly further down the road, standardised traffic order data will be crucial to enable future transport initiatives, whether that’s truly multi-modal navigation or the advent of connected and autonomous vehicles.
It’s through open, digital and standardised traffic order data that cities can tackle their most pressing mobility challenges and unlock transport innovation.
I am personally excited about the steps that the public and private sector can take right now and I am here to help with advice and recommendations. Contact me today via firstname.lastname@example.org