DfT Strategic Roads Visualisation Project

 

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The visualisation of complex data is becoming increasingly possible, and has the potential to create new insights for policy-makers and the travelling public, as well as enable government to communicate with and engage stakeholders and the public more effectively.

The purpose of the project was to explore ways of creating more dynamic and engaging visualisations of data on roads investment and its impacts.

As one of the goals of a catapult is to encourage industry, The TSC worked with ITO World Ltd, a UK-based SME, to develop a visualisation platform demonstrator that is potentially able to visualise any data relating to the Strategic Road network in a 3D environment. The main innovation in this project is the ease with which new data sets can be prepared and loaded into the platform to create entirely new visualisations.

Objectives – What did success look like for this project?

The project was intended as an initial demonstrator which aimed to:

  • Explore the limits of possibility at the cutting-edge of visualisation technology, and the potential for making better use of this capability and existing sources of data held by DfT and Highways England on the strategic road network and RIS 1 to improve the visualisation and communication of roads data
  • Investigate the strengths and shortcomings of visualisation techniques for meeting DfT needs, and develop a methodology that could provide the basis for creating future transport data visualisations
  • Investigate the technical and other challenges involved in creating complex visualisations of transport data – including the limitations of existing data and ways data could be improved to support richer visualisations in the future
  • Assess the potential for DfT to develop its internal capability further to create richer visualisations to support communications and decision-making in the longer term – for example, to support the consultation process around RIS 2
  • Provide recommendations on how DfT could develop this capability into a larger scale platform that would meet its future requirements.

What challenges did we have to overcome to meet the objectives?

The main challenges for this project related to making the correct technical decisions early on in the project to enable the platform to be as flexible as possible whilst still being delivered on budget and to a tight deadline. In a wider context, an industry-wide challenge addressed by this project is improving the understanding of the best ways to use, store and disseminate transport data to allow data sets to be inter-operable and knowledge to be obtained from the data as effectively as possible.

What’s next?

This project has been a good example of the role of the Transport Systems Catapults in enabling SMEs with specialised skills to find the best opportunities in the Intelligent Mobility sector and to grow the UK’s capability within this industry.

Following the successful delivery of the visualisation platform demonstrator, ongoing discussions between ITO World and the DfT can take place to potentially allow the system to reach its full potential. We hope that other organisations will take inspiration from this project to consider the importance of data visualisation when analysing and communicating complex situations.

Further information

ITO World: http://www.itoworld.com

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