In the week it announced the £20 million Connected and Autonomous Vehicles competition, the Government underlined the importance of data for helping deliver benefits for drivers and other road users in it's response to the Transport Parliamentary Select Committee on Motoring of the future report. Data recorded, stored and used by vehicles could, it claimed, ‘create more individually tailored transport solutions for people’.
Clarity for motorists about data privacy and greater security was the concern for the select committee, but transparency and 'open data' could are also factors that could help oil the wheels for business. Recognising the need for improved access to transport data, Transport Systems Catapult has launched its IM Data store, that lists over 200 sources.
Public and Private Intelligent Mobility related data
In its March 2015 report Transport Data Revolution, Transport Systems Catapult claimed that, if certain barriers were overcome, what is today's ‘digital exhaust’ (i.e. not-exploited data) could become tomorrow’s “new form of oil”.
The report highlighted four general measures to route round certain barriers it identified: fixing issues around data silos and 'data deserts', the transport sector should participate in debates around data privacy, there should be more availability of training, and that data should be exploitable by machines and humans.
Addressing the first barrier, Transport Systems Catapult (TSC) has launched an online index of transport data sources at IM Data Index to catalogue all available UK datasets (open, closed, or paid for) applicable to Intelligent Mobility.
The index provides a searchable catalogue designed to help enable exploration of datasets within the IM arena.
According to TSC, the site aims to provide as complete picture of the transport data domain as possible, but requires providers and consumers of Intelligent Mobility data to engage to maintain and built the listed data sets.
TSC asked for suggestions or contributions via email.
Other transport data stores are available
The data.gov.uk is a Government project launched in 2010 to make non-personal UK government data available in order to make decisions and suggestions about government policies based on detailed informationas open data Results listed under the theme of transport.
As of July 2015 it contains 26,441 Datasets, and 929 Results listed under the theme of transport
It also lists 378 Apps, such as Walkonomics - that provides scores for walkability of streets using OpenStreetMap plus reviews. FloodAlerts API for England and Wales uses data from the flood service (and API) data, that is updated every 15 minutes.
Another example dataset hosted within data.gov.uk, also referenced in imdata.co.uk, is The National Public Transport Data Repository (NPTDR), published by Department for Transport, under the Open Government Licence.
The NPTDR database contains a snapshot of every public transport journey in Great Britain for a selected week in October each year. Data is currently available for October 2004 up until to October 2011.
The dataset is compiled with information from sources including local public transport information from each of the traveline regions, also coach services from the national coach services database and rail information from the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC). NPTDR is mainly used by local authorities and other organisations in the production of accessibility indicators.
The London Datastore has been created by the Greater London Authority (GLA) to help free up London’s data.
This contains 74 transport datasets , for examples Vehicles Seen in the Congestion Charge Zone by Month.
The GLA says it is committed to using its connections and influence to request other public sector organisations to release their data, an objective it says is backed strongly by Boris Johnson, Mayor of London.
It emphasises that releasing data is just the start, as raw data often doesn’t tell you much until it’s been presented in a meaningful way. It's looking to encourage visualisation of the data or apps to be built using the data, and said it will promote these on its Case Studies page.
A commercially produced alternative for transport data is Transport API, that claims to be Britain’s first comprehensive open platform for transport solutions, offering open data feeds from industry sources. It charges for access to data.
It says it is 'Britain's first comprehensive open platform for transport solutions', with 'over 1400 developers and organisations building on our platform' and it provides 'Open data feeds from key industry sources'.
Public data at the public’s fingertips
With connected devices being increasingly mobile devices, and therefore carried in transit, there's developing business opportunities from opening up transport data for use by devices, and in future for yet-to-be-imagined applications.
As reported back in 2012, Carl Partridge, the developer of Bus Checker app that uses data reported to have generated ‘six-figure’ revenues, was quoted in the Financial Times as saying any data created using public money should be opened to developers and businesses.
In his view, “In future, people will demand to have public data at their fingertips. It will be seen as being as essential a public service as providing a clean water supply.”
Open Data and ‘data openness’
To help encourage markets around data, for the Connected and autonomous Vehicles Competition Innovate UK will require collection and analysis of data to be carried out using 'open data principles'.
It’s therefore worth pointing out that there’s more than one definition of open open data.
As defined by ODI, is data that anyone can access, use and share.
As defined by Open Definition, open is ‘data that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone - subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and sharealike’.
ODI considers open data needn’t be free but can be associated with a choice of ‘business models’, hence Innovate UK’s use of the broad term ‘open data principles’ in the Connected and Autonomous Vehicles Competition.
Transparency, on the other hand, implies openness, communication, and accountability.
While pressures within Whitehall might push back from a presumption of the right for data used in public decision making to be transparent, that's a (somewhat) separate issue to 'open data'.
In October 2013, the Prime Minister said he supported more availability of open data and in that year the Open Data Institute (ODI) was set up to promote open data.
Its Open data roadmap 2015 states that the government should open up more datasets that, “could have significant social, environmental and economic benefits if released as high-quality open data”.
The ODI recently analysed identified and analysed 270 companies that use, produce or invest in open data as part of their business, with combined annual turnover of over £92bn, and over 500k employees between them. This shows the scale of open data’s potential value in business.
Transport data was the second most common type of data used by these companies surveyed (43%), after Geospatial data. This includes government data provided by Department for Transport, from Highways Agency live traffic to C02 emissions, and non-government transport data from Traveline and the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC).
Register for 4 August briefing £20 million competition to support improved vehicle connectivity, autonomy and interactivity
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is to invest up to £20 million in collaborative R&D projects and feasibility studies (delivered by Innovate UK on behalf of BIS) to stimulate developments in autonomous vehicles and connected transport systems.
The focus for the Connected and autonomous vehicles competition will be on connectivity, autonomy and customer interaction – along with catalysing new business models.
KTN will be involved in briefing and networking activities for potential applicants - to be held in London for 4 August 2015.
Registration details for the briefing and networking event is as follows: