Headlines: May 29th, 2009

Birmingham could become the first British city with an ‘Intelligent Transport’ network under plans put forward by a digital technology consortium. The proposals would bring together data on traffic congestion, car parking and bus schedules to create real time tracking information related to where someone is when they make an inquiry.

The project could help pedestrians as well as car users and public transport operators and passengers and could lead to quicker and greener journeys. The idea has been unveiled by a consortium led by Birmingham Science City Partnership and including Birmingham City Council, Digital Birmingham, Coventry University Enterprises, Microsoft and Virtual Earth developer Shoothill.

Under the proposals a would-be traveller at Birmingham International Airport, for example, could find the quickest and most fuel-efficient route to a point in the city, avoiding traffic jams, and be given information on the nearest available car park spaces. As they moved around the city the information would be updated and public service travel information would be linked to in-car systems, allowing the driver to respond accordingly. Pedestrians and public transport passengers would also get information via their mobile phones.

‘Intelligent Transport’ would build on existing systems such as the Help2Travel website and the Network West Midlands portal. Dominic Gill of Microsoft said it would be the first system of its kind in the UK and be part of a multi-million pound demonstrator programme for the consortium which aims to address a number of urban issues relating to transport, tourism, security and climate change.

Len Gregory, Birmingham Council’s Cabinet Member for Transportation and Street Services, said: “Birmingham has an ambitious integrated transport policy and the logical progression of this concept would put the citizen, business person or visitor firmly in the driving seat.”