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Highways Agency trial bungs real-time tracking on web

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The Highways Agency is trialling combining GPS tracking with data from its existing sources to provide real-time information to drivers on a 'beta' version of its traffic information map for drivers in England.

A spokesman for the agency told Government Computing that by adding GPS data to that from its existing sources - induction loops under the road which count traffic and ANPR cameras - it aims to "dramatically" improve information about road conditions.

"The trial gathers live data from fleet vehicles, such as those belonging to haulage companies, that have GPS systems, plus a small element of data from apps, if individuals agree to provide this," he said.

He added that all the data is anonymised by the agency and that no individual, vehicle or device can be identified so that only data about traffic levels on a road is provided.

The 12-month project was launched in the spring. The costs are built into the agency's National Traffic Information Service contract, let last September to a joint venture between Mouchel and Thales.

A parallel trial on the M25 is using anonymous location data from mobile phones to measure journey times. It is intended to help plan future measures to reduce road congestion.

Simon Sheldon-Wilson, the director of traffic management at the agency, said: "At the moment control rooms collect information from cameras and a vast number of sensors built into the road surface. But if an incident happens out of camera shot or if the traffic does not queue back to one of the sensor locations, we don't have a full picture of the problem and there can be delays in responding.

"This new approach would allow us to work with GPS data which will give us the most accurate and comprehensive data set to manage traffic flow and clear up incidents as quickly as possible.

"The information used for the M25 scheme is historic, not immediate, but will help us develop improvements targeted to reduce congestion and improve reliability."

This article was originally published at Government Computing.

Government Computing covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

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