Mobile connection data set to help improve Berkshire’s roads

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Anonymised data from Virgin’s O2 mobile phone network is being used as part of a series of new government-funded trials to help Thames Valley local authorities plan improvements to air quality, road surfaces, traffic flow and energy infrastructure.

Funded by the Department for Transport through the £22.9m ADEPT SMART Places Live Labs Programme, the Thames Valley Berkshire Live Lab trials are investigating how technology could transform local places and improve the way people live and work in Berkshire.

Led by Reading borough council and supported by six local authorities, the Thames Valley Berkshire Live Lab includes five trials that will use technology to help shape future improvements to issues such as potholes, traffic congestion, pollution and other health risks.

In a model set to help local authorities plan smarter towns, the trials combine movement data collected from anonymised, aggregated O2 mobile connections with anonymised information from other sources, including air quality sensors and cameras mounted on refuse trucks.

Sergio Budkin, director of market development at Virgin Media O2, said: “O2 Motion is all about using data to improve people’s experiences, so we are particularly proud to be a part of the Thames Valley Berkshire Live Lab – looking at the potential of tech to map out the smarter towns of the future.

“Anonymised, aggregated data about how we move around can help councils pinpoint the most congested transport routes, and show exactly which roads need improving, exposure to dangerous air pollution, and how residents can make greener choices. And it allows local authorities to make informed improvements, cut carbon emissions and make life better for residents and businesses alike.”

O2 joins Shoothill, Siemens, Stantec and Smarter Grid Solutions as a technology partner for the Thames Valley Berkshire Live Lab, which is delivered with support from the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Slough Borough Council, Wokingham Borough Council, West Berkshire Council, Bracknell Forest Council and Reading Borough Council. Research input is also being provided by The University of Reading.

Giles Perkins, Live Labs Programme director, added: “The Thames Valley Live Lab demonstrates the potential benefits that aggregating multiple sources of data, from transport, highways and beyond can bring in terms of making a real difference to our communities and places.”

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