Highways England has announced the winners of multi-million-pound funding for eleven newly announced initiatives to tackle air quality around the country’s motorways and major A road. The competition was facilitated by Innovate UK as a small business research initiative.
Among these initiatives is Network Emissions/Vehicle Flow Management Adjustment (NEVFMA), for which the winning consortium is headed by Aimsun Ltd, in collaboration with Siemens Mobility, EarthSense and Oxfordshire County Council.
NEVFMA will investigate the impact of different traffic management strategies in real-time on the Oxford City road network and the surrounding strategic road network such as the A34 and A40. The proposal provides short-term air quality and traffic predictions, based on a network of sensors and dynamic simulation. The system will enable operators to simulate the effect of different traffic management strategies and select the best strategy to mitigate poor air quality.
Aimsun will be deploying its Aimsun Live software as a strategic real-time decision-making tool alongside technology and air quality modelling from EarthSense and traffic signal technology from Siemens Mobility. Aimsun is a fully-owned Siemens Mobility company and the portfolios often compliment each other to provide operators with predictive tools that interact seamlessly with traffic hardware.
Air quality has become a key consideration for the UK government agenda, with Low Emission Zones, the new Ultra Low Emission Zones in London, and even the world’s first Zero Emission Zone in Oxford, starting from 2020.
However, this localised approach to reducing emissions may have wider implications for nearby areas: discouraging vehicles from crossing a city centre may overburden a nearby ring road with a net negative effect. A linked consideration is that the rise in active travel initiatives, such as giving pedestrians priority over cars at traffic lights, might have implications on the link roads. Clearly, a holistic approach is needed, where the impact of local measures can be evaluated alongside their implications on the strategic road network, and this is where the NEVFMA project comes in.
NEVFMA project goals
• Systematise clear congestion trigger points, based on predictions of the implications of a “do nothing” scenario
• Create measurable and actionable KPIs for system evaluation at traffic control centres
• Use real-time traffic data and air quality data (from on-vehicle sensors, infrastructure-embedded sensors, or satellite data)
• Establish clear response strategies (including divergence routes, time-to-green, etc, depending on available local ITS) based on simulations and evaluations
• Disseminate information to drivers via highway authority social media or broadcast radio but also via edge devices, such as traffic lights and DSRC communication.