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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/K012614/1
Title: Supporting Sustainable Transport Infrastructure Maintenance (Research In the Wild)
Principal Investigator: Davies, Professor N
Other Investigators:
Friday, Professor A
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Carillion In Touch Ltd
Department: Computing & Communications
Organisation: Lancaster University
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 30 April 2013 Ends: 31 January 2015 Value (£): 161,633
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Information & Knowledge Mgmt Transport Ops & Management
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Transport Systems and Vehicles
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
07 Sep 2012 EPSRC : Research in the Wild Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Helping to address the sustainability agenda through informed personal travel has been an area of intense research activity with many new forms of information collection and dissemination having been investigated. Much less well studied is the problem of maintaining the transport infrastructure in a sustainable fashion. In our work we wish to explore in the wild how new developments in travel information gathering and dissemination can be used to drive more sustainable approaches to maintaining the UK's transport infrastructure. The project builds on successful collaborations established through funded research projects (Our Travel (TSB), Faith (TSB/EPSRC), Smart Streets (TSB)) and looks to test in the wild ideas emerging from new areas of academic research as typified by the RCUK funded Sixth Sense Transport project.

Our work builds on two recent research projects, i.e. Our Travel and Sixth Sense. Within the Our Travel project the consortium have shown how crowd-sourced transport information can be integrated with highways maintenance activities to help better coordinate work activities and to ensure timely dissemination of information regarding maintenance activities to travellers. The on-going Sixth Sense Transport project is a multidisciplinary academic research project involving the Universities of Southampton (transport), Edinburgh (design), Salford (psychology) and Bournemouth (tourism) that is looking to encourage travellers to adopt a more sustainable approach to travel. To this end the project is developing applications that allow travellers to see predictions of future travel patterns of other users, enabling them to avoid congestion and make more opportunistic use of travel links, particularly across transport modes and between travellers. For example, the project looks to encourage travellers to identify opportunities for shared travel, convert single-purpose trips into multi-purpose trips, engage in collaborative logistics and shift to mixed-mode transport by providing simple interactive maps that show traces of both past and future travel patterns.

Our interest is in exploring whether the idea of using such predictive travel patterns can help provide a more sustainable approach to maintaining the UK's transport infrastructure. At present many highways maintenance activities are driven largely by a need to comply with contractual KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). This tends to lead to an inherently unsustainable "earliest deadline first" approach to scheduling that significantly increases the environmental overhead associated with highways maintenance. Prediction of future travel patterns may help in two distinct ways. Firstly, by enabling highways maintenance engineers to predict future travel patterns they can schedule work in a way that minimises traffic disruption - particularly with respect to journeys that involve multiple transport modes (e.g. driving to the station to catch a train). This can lead to a significant reduction in congestion and associated emissions. Secondly, by predicting future travel patterns of their own maintenance vehicles highways maintenance engineers can maximise the potential for opportunistic improvements to work-flows. For example, it may be possible to identify opportunities for maintenance operatives to opportunistically share tools and materials such as tarmac without the need to return to base between road repairs - reducing transport costs and environmental impact. More generally, in this research we are looking to enable a shift from a reactive, and distinctly inefficient and environmentally costly model of scheduling to a predictive, opportunistic model that looks to minimise the environmental impact of work.

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Organisation Website: http://www.lancs.ac.uk