Smart streets are when the management, operation and maintenance of streets and highways are enhanced through the use of connected data and the application of technology. This term is further explained and expanded on in the following sections.

The use of technology on roads is, of course, not new. Traffic signals have been connected to traffic management systems for over 60 years, and over that time the technology on our streets has continued to develop and proliferate. In a typical busy street, technology may include street lighting, traffic signals, detectors, CCTV, air quality monitors, public transport information signs, and so forth.

However, a more recent trend is the data connectivity of road users via smartphones and in-vehicle systems which are changing how:

  • information is exchanged
  • people interact with services
  • travel travel

New ways of working need to be adopted to capitalise on these as opportunities to deliver changes that deliver, for example, increased efficiency, cost savings, and better outcomes for the public. These changes are illustrated in the section below ‘How Streets are getting Smarter’.

The rollout of Smart Streets should support the achievement of transport strategies by delivering the following benefits:

  • Bringing efficiencies in the day to day operations of road authorities.
  • Exploiting local, regional and national investment in data technologies.
  • Reduce challenges experienced by road and transport users and improve user experiences.

This manual provides guidance for implementing and managing Smart Streets. This guidance is arranged into several Smart Streets use cases, each considering an area of services delivered or influenced by authorities. The Smart Streets use cases encompass both services that authorities currently provide and new services that authorities would like to provide.

Smart Streets are supported by digital and connected services that have become widespread, improving user experiences and delivering efficiencies. The travelling public increasingly uses data connected services through smartphones to support them through their journeys and as the devices in vehicles proliferate, connected vehicles are an integral part of the ecosystem and traffic management systems have to develop to engage with them.

An example is shown in the diagrams below comparing traditional and smart traffic management. The introduction of cooperative communication between vehicles, user devices, and transport infrastructure allows traffic management systems to provide a better more seamless user experience, operating more efficiently with access to better data, and less reliance on physical infrastructure. Two opportunities created by migration from traditional to smart traffic management are:

  • Traditionally data must be collected actively by infrastructure and surveys. Whereas in smart systems the data may be collected co-operatively via data communications and digital transactions.
  • Traditionally traffic management is largely limited to relatively direct control of road users via traffic signals and signs. Whereas in smart systems strategic influence of road user behaviour is possible via connected services.

However, Smart Streets are not limited to the functions of traffic management, this manual covers the application of smart technology across a wide range of transport services.

 

Traditional traffic management

 

 

 

Smart traffic management

 

 

 

The Manual for Smart Streets, this Manual, intends to guide the delivery of services for Streets and Highways that capitalise on data and emerging technology and keep pace with our increasingly digitalised world.

This Manual is intended to support Authorities who’re responsible for providing a range of services for streets and highways. It is additionally intended to help the industry to identify and establish opportunities to contribute value in this space, and to develop best practices that support a sustainable and successful smart streets market.

Smart processes include digitalisation where digital information and technologies are adopted to improve business processes.  Delivery may include changing processes to make better native use of traditional IT systems and often involves digitisation, the conversion of non-digital information into a digital format. However, there are further opportunities enabled by emerging technologies such as:

  • Centralised or 3rd party platforms that provide interfaces and information sharing with users.
  • Data connectivity through Internet of Things (IoT).
  • Data availability provided by telematics devices.

Although there are many ways that digitalisation can improve operations and services, doing so effectively often requires the adoption of new philosophies and ways of working.

Capitalising on the opportunities that digitisation and digitalisation offer will deliver benefits, however, the technologies should be seen as tools to deliver the wider desired objectives. The transport strategies being delivered by these services should continue to provide overarching guiding principles so this manual should be used to support the local transport strategies and this Manual, and not be seen as a replacement.

This Manual is designed to help both those who may have deep knowledge in particular fields and those that are new to an area to think about the wider traffic management arena. We recognise that each organisation’s set of systems and processes are different: with different components and suppliers, integrated in different ways to deliver local needs. However, there are common principles and proven experiences that can be shared and provide support on the journey to improve and develop the services.

With this in mind, we have structured this manual to consist of a generic process ‘Service Delivery Lifecycle’ and repositories of knowledge, ‘the use cases’. These concepts are introduced in more detail in their respective sections.

The manual contains use cases that address functions commonly delivered by authorities now, and it also includes specific use cases for connected vehicles.

The manual comprises technical guidance and does not set out any new transport policy or legal requirements. It is not intended to replace any existing technical guidance but will reference that existing guidance where appropriate. For example, Urban Traffic Management and Control (UTMC) will continue for some time to be the go-to standard for communication between the traffic management system and some roadside equipment as well as providing a host of functions for controlling traffic. The boundary of traffic management, however, has now evolved to go well beyond UTMC. The existing UTMC systems will be expected to integrate and interface with the wider network of services and systems to continue to deliver.

As discussed above, we have structured this manual to follow a generic process defined in a ‘Service Delivery Lifecycle’ and repositories of knowledge provided in ‘Smart Streets Use cases’.

The ‘Service Delivery Lifecycle’ follows a journey through the implementation of a generic smart streets project, from conception, through design and procurement to implementation and operation. This process provides the structure for ‘Smart Streets Use cases’.

The use cases in this manual are intended to provide an introduction to the subject and provide links and information to support a more detailed investigation. They are not and cannot be a definitive guide, and the intention is to provide a meaningful but accessible overview that opens the door and enables more detailed resources to be more effective. Where practitioners have specific knowledge or capability that they believe will support others in their implementations, please do share that experience through the publishing of a case study and a process to support this will be put in place.

The approach taken in the development of the manual is to think of traffic management services as being delivered through interlinked systems, a system of systems approach to help understand the whole service. It shouldn’t be necessary for the transport strategist, data scientist or traffic manager to become an expert at individual system design, but it is useful to develop some of this approach to systems thinking. This will be developed further in later sections.

The following golden rules may be useful to shape, develop and verify smart street projects.
  1. Identifying existing problems, and finding effective ways to solve them is excellence. Whereas proposing solutions that are searching for problems is fruitless.
    • Are you applying technology to address a policy issue influencing mobility or a real customer need, or is it just technology looking for a problem to solve? What’s the added value over what exists now? How does it integrate with what is there already both in technology and operational terms?
    • Is the source of your existing problem with your current assets, or does the problem lie with how it is being used, or resource training? Are you making the best use of your existing assets: could new solutions be delivered by making better use of them, or better understanding of what assets you have and their capabilities.
  2. Effective solutions must integrate with customers and systems
    • Smart Streets don’t exist on their own and are not a solution alone– they must link to our life and business as an everyday service we use and adapt our travel as a result. Think about the end users are and how the solution supports their needs, and how it can be integrated with other services, to make it easy to use.
  3. Breaking new ground has the potential for high reward, but also high risk.
    • Be careful if you think of or fund an opportunity that you think everyone else has missed – they may be ignoring it because they see problems that you can’t, so do your homework. It is also worth checking that the proposal is not already available to users by providers outside of the transport domain. Read the current literature to see what others are doing already. Choose evidence in your business case carefully.
    • Think about safety, legislation, cyber security, data privacy and accessibility. Follow the DfT’s guidance on cyber security, align with GDPR and do not promote anything associated with receiving mobile phone calls or data while moving (e.g., on-call tracking, texting of information to drivers…). And think about social inclusion… does your idea apply to all roads and all people, or just a specific high-value market that does not need public support?
    • Many ideas are easy to invent and prototype, but their viability depends not on technology but on achieving a big enough scale. Think about the risks– will enough data be available, will enough of the market want it… and how these risks are mitigated. How will the changing cost and availability of technology impact your idea?  Those that are prohibitive now may become feasible in a couple of years but others patently will not.
  4. Developing new solutions usually requires high time and effort compared to adopting or adapting existing solutions
    • Look at the many transport services already on the market and make sure you’re not reinventing the wheel? As examples:
      • Sat navs are already available with real-time data and historic journey patterns, and available for HGVs, with in-vehicle signing now available too
      • GPS data from fleet management systems are already routinely used for journey times and in sat navs
    • In England, there is already a national Bus Open Data Service (BODS) platform for sharing bus timetable and location data, whose use is mandatory for local bus operators.
    • when coming up with new ideas, think about intellectual property, and check your new idea does not already have a patent – many ideas have been registered but not deployed.
    • There is already a great deal of knowledge in data exchange between transport systems. The TTF community has much knowledge to share! There is already a great deal of knowledge about what travellers want from Smart Streets and will use and how much they are (un) willing to pay for it. You may need specific research on how your idea might be used in practice, to tailor it to users.
  5. Standards support success.
    • It is good practice to use existing mature international standards for data exchange (DATEX, SIRI, TPEG) and for the IT systems that supply data (JSON, YAML, XML) to source data from machines directly, not skim websites. And think about who you will get data from and why they would give or sell it to you – they own it after all. Remember, institutions are often key here, not technology.
    • The UK has developed a modular approach to urban traffic control and monitoring systems, UTMC, which about 50 local authorities already use. Using these specifications offers immediate access to markets and to local Authority data.
    • Standards are often used to achieve
      • A convenient, and seamless experience for users. E.g. common data exchange standards may enable interoperable services that allow services through a single platform to roam between service providers and administrate boundaries.
      • Adoption of assets and processes that are easily and competitively maintainable. Solutions based on common standards support coherence, interoperability, and interchangeability of data.
      • A sustainable, healthy and competitive market. Where providers adopt standards that deliver common objectives of addressing user needs and providing interoperability: economies of scale are achieved with access to wider suppliers and markets provided, specification and validation costs are shared, and solutions are aimed at delivering long term customer value.

Disclaimer: The Manual for Smart Streets is currently DRAFT content under development. It has not yet been released to the public and has only been shared with selected stakeholders for the purpose of review.

All content should not be used for any purpose other than to review the current state of this draft content.

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The Manual for Smart Streets is a living document that will continue to develop through engagement. Please do contact us using the link below if you have any questions, feedback, or content to contribute.

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