A review of the use and commercial benefits of the UK’s local authority transport data, carried out on behalf of government, has called for the creation of a national data catalogue, national guidance for local authorities and more targeted investment.
The review’s conclusions are in draft form and being considered by ministers, while a delivery plan is also being drawn up, SMART Highways‘s sister site Transport Network understands.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has also commissioned reviews of a potential overhaul of the Urban Traffic Management Control (UTMC) system and the potential creation of a national data catalogue.
The Local Government Technical Advisers Group (TAG) was given an exclusive briefing on the initial results of the overall review by Graham Hanson, ITS policy lead, traffic and technology division at the DfT.
Mr Hanson outlined the report’s major recommendations and findings, which demonstrate a nascent market struggling to overcome barriers but potentially worth a great deal to both the public and private sectors.
1 Local authorities should be helped to focus on making more high quality data open
- 1A Establish a sector-led programme to identify data to be opened. Use transport community groups to support local authorities in understanding the road map and priorities for open transport data and to learn from proven use cases
- 1B work with local authorities to scale proven data initiatives. Create a central funded team to replicate proven data initiatives to support local authorities in delivering successful data projects
- 1C develop open data guidance for local authorities create clear and directive open data guidance which local authorities can use to prioritise their transport data initiatives and interventions.
2 The DfT should sponsor identified data prospects, which encourage and foster better local authority transport services
- 2A Create a framework and standards for local authorities to support current and future services. Build on existing local authority transport data systems to enable interoperable, integrated and connected transport services – (see UTMC review)
- 2B streamline and digitise Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs). DfT to sponsor a programme of work supporting local authorities in digitising their TROs, while also streamlining the current legislative process to implement or amend a TRO.
3) More effective investment in infrastructure to harvest local authority data and open data initiatives to improve data sharing
4) Promote training and skills development within local authorities to develop internal capability
5) Improve collaboration between local authorities Highways England and the private sector
- 5A Promoting cross sector/boundary collaboration. Use regional groups and incentivisation schemes to promote collaboration and data sharing initiatives across local authorities and the private sector
- 5B Improve data sharing across Highways England and local authorities. Working more effectively across Highways England and local authorities to increase network optimisation and reduce disruption.
Hanson said, “Essentially the research has shown that the local authority data landscape in England is complex and fragmented, with a large amount of data being collected and stored in silos by local authorities and the private sector.
“One of the key questions is the value of local authority data and the private sector. The research shows there is little cashable value to local authority data at present. The private sector finds the market too difficult to navigate with over 150 authorities.”
However he added that the review found, “There is a value in local authority data, particularly when it is more granular. There are a lot of services council provide that have real value.
“What we found is there is a lot of enthusiasm in local authorities to develop the data but it is a very immature market. The key message that came back to central government is that local authorities need to get more support and guidance on the best approach to open data.
“We must talk about investment and if we talk about investment we have to talk about business cases. Because of the immaturity of the market there aren’t a lot of business cases out there for local authorities to feed into. A significant part of the review was looking at how we can create new business cases for local authorities.”
The review also highlighted that Transport for London has demonstrated the benefit of open data, generating annual economic benefits of up to £130m a year – this success has not been replicated by other local authorities.
The review took place over 12 weeks with private consultants talking to 173 individuals, across 94 public and private sector organisations.