Innovation

The Economic Heartland is harnessing new technologies and insight to enhance the journey experience across the region.

Our focus is on delivering positive economic impacts and making life better for our residents.

The Heartland's door is open to any potential partners who want to work with us on testing and deploying innovative technology and processes which will fulfil those aims: we are the UK's living laboratory.

Mobility as a Service (MaaS)

 

The role Mobility as a Service can play in the England's Economic Heartland region was debated at a workshop held in January 2018.

Held at Transport Systems Catapult in Milton Keynes, the event saw officers from highways authorities from across EEH, think about the challenges facing transport today, such as congestion, rural isolation and inadequate ticketing. 

They then discussed how MaaS - which offers consumers access to a range of vehicle types and journey experiences, with the private car not necessarily perceived as the defacto choice for getting from A to B - can help with these challenges.

James Golding-Graham, EEH's lead officer for innovation, said: "It's been great to get the different authorities from the different parts of EEH in a room to start to discuss some of the key challenges we will face."

He said EEH would develop a white paperon MaaS, adding: "I'm hopeful that all of the organisations that have been represented here will be able to go back to their own local authorities and start to have conversations about how they want to shape MaaS going forward." 

Intelligent Infrastructure

England’s Economic Heartland is exploring how two award-winning intelligent infrastructure projects could be implemented in the region.

Elgin/ Tom Tom won the regional intelligent infrastructure challenge at the Highways UK Conference with their real-time congestion monitor, while Valerann won the overall competition with its intelligent road studs.

Both had entered the regional challenge set by England’s Economic Heartland and Transport for the North, inviting solutions that will improve real-time traffic management and information across the Heartland area.

Valerann’s propriety technology turns road-studs into smart connected devices. They collect traffic flow, road risks, surface condition and maintenance data in real-time from every point in the road which is not only shared with local authorities and control centres, but also communicated to drivers via the road studs’ LED lights and in-vehicle navigation apps.

Elgin and Tom Tom’s website allows, for the first time, traffic managers, works promoters and utilities to monitor congestion caused by individual roadworks and traffic management interventions such as road closures. It has the potential to transform how disruptions are monitored, supporting intelligent real-time network management and supporting more effective intervention strategies and policy.

Read our news release in full.

Simulating future scenarios

England's Economic Heartland has commissioned Immense Simulations to develop a ground-breaking policy scenario modelling tool for the transport system in the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge growth corridor.

The tool will enable Heartland partners to look at 'what if' scenarios stretching out to 2050, and to explore their relative impacts. 

Working closely with Local Enterprise Partnerships and Local Planning Authorities across the region, the modelling tool will enable the implications of alternative policy scenarios to be considered and debated. This will in turn shape the development of the region's overarching transport and connectivity study - work on which has now started.

The scale of the economic potential across the Heartland is immense, and realising that potential has been identified by the Government as a national priority.  However, transformational economic activity will require investment in infrastructure and services that is itself transformational.  And in looking to the future there's a need to anticipate fundamental changes in the way society is enabled by the digital economy.

The policy scenario modelling tool will for the first time provide the Heartland partners with the means of exploring such issues.

Read our news release in full

Vehicle to Grid trial

EEH member, Oxfordshire County Council, is part of a consortium that has secured more than £400,000 of Innovate UK funding for the V2GO project under the recent Vehicle to Grid competition.

The project will test and trial “bi-directional charging” meaning that a group of electric vehicles can help to “balance” the power grid – effectively giving back power from their batteries when it is needed during peak times and charging up ready to drive when demand is lower.

The consortium is made up of eight major organisations with expertise in energy and power markets and systems, fleet operation value chains and electric mobility: EDF Energy R&D UK, University of Oxford, Oxfordshire County Council, Arrival, EO Charging, Upside Energy, and Fleet Innovation.

Working with business and academic partners, the county council will be investigating the impacts and benefits to the locality. These could include congestion reduction and air quality improvement.

The team will also be supporting the development of a tool kit for other local authorities looking to harness the opportunities the technology presents.

The energy storage capacity of electric vehicles (EVs), presents new opportunities and value propositions for fleet operators and power system services (e.g., potentially alleviate the need for generation and transmission investments; increasing network efficiency and energy security).

Councillor Yvonne Constance, Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet member for Environment and Economy, said: “The V2GO project appears highly technical, but in simple terms it shows that we are thinking not just about the transport technologies of the future and the “smart” infrastructure required to power it, but also the wider benefits of such innovations to the people of Oxfordshire.

Bus travel

Bus travel presents an opportunity to implement and apply technology in new ways to generate new and useful data. For example, cameras and sensors could be placed on the vehicles which provide intelligence to maintenance teams on the state of the roads.

Simple data  - like where travellers get on and off a bus - can help predict demand. That means we can better understand, through modelling, passenger movements on the transport network, generating new opportunities for 'on demand' bus services improving access to services and employment in rural areas.

Future journeys

The video below, produced for Oxfordshire County Council, gives an insight into the way we could travel around Oxford in the future.

 

Lead officer: James Golding-Graham: James.Golding-Graham@Oxfordshire.gov.uk