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New awards to bring transport technology centre stage

Better information. More convenient ways to book and pay for services. Smart ways to manage vehicles and infrastructure. Increasingly innovation in technology is providing the means to improve transport.

29 March 2019


We’re seeing these developments on the ground now, changing the way people travel. Sometimes it’s trial on a small scale with local introductions of new services across a limited area. The flexible on demand driven bus service in launched by Arriva started in an area of Sittingbourne just 4 miles wide and 6 miles long. A single bus route converted by TransDev to ‘pay for how far you travel’ measured by Bluetooth beacons. One Royal Mail depot trialling electric cargo trike deliveries. Fractional ownership offered at a single Nissan car dealership in France. A very targeted study such as Transport for Greater Manchester’s pilot of a Mobility as a Service style service to a group of 34 people to understand their transport behaviour in a ‘MaaS mimicking’ set up. The ESP Group trial with a group of young people in Dundee who were involved in designing an account-based travel app to give them access to public transport and split their taxi fares between them.

However these trials follow in the wake of technology that has been is widely adopted – think Uber or the Trainline with millions of users, mobile bus ticketing apps, a quarter of a million car club members in London or the vast take up of Oyster contactless payment using bank cards and completely avoiding paper ticketing. Indeed, we can see just how embedded in people’s experience and expectations technology has become when it fails. Last year’s issues at CoreThree sent ripples up and down the country when mobile ticketing apps used across the bus industry and by several metro services failed. Every year usage has grown – and people now demand a robust unbreakable system.

Whether it’s real time information showing passengers where their bus is and how quickly it’s progressing towards them, contactless payments, citywide bike share systems, real time parking information, app based ticketing or real time traffic management and new electric infrastructure, transport technology is shaping how people choose to travel, the way they pay for it and the impact their choices have.

More than this, transport technology shapes how services can be provided. Whether it’s as simple as ticketing on mobile apps speeding up boarding on buses and reducing journey times. Or complex as algorithms determining new dynamic route planning based services. All manner of technology and invention is enabling the provision of new modes and services. Aztec codes, apps and RFID cards all make bike share possible. Data analysis enables predictive and dynamic management of assets – from fleet to traffic flows. Software around ID verification, banking and account management enable a plethora of new business models aiming to increase vehicle occupancy, the use of under-utilised vehicles or maximising efficiency. Electrification (and a combination of these technologies) enables zero emission vehicles, micromobility and electric bike share as well as smart energy management through vehicle to grid schemes.

Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric – the four principles

Across transport we’re seeing shifts towards better connected (both physically and digitally) passenger experience, moves towards autonomy, increasing shared transport and a growing momentum towards electric vehicles – not just cars but buses, trains and bicycles.

None of these trends can be ignored. The TRANStech Awards will look at who is making these shifts successfully – in a way that meets people’s needs, environmental goals and positive social outcomes - and how they are achieving them.

Whether it’s managing infrastructure from roads to parking optimising existing services – from selling spaces on coaches, getting people to share lifts or hire out their under utilised vehicles – or creating new ones enabled by dynamic routing algorithms or using new electric vehicles – there is a revolution underway.

This revolution is visible at the customer interface but it’s enabled at the fleet management, infrastructure and data level. It’s sometimes hard to connect the dots and see the bigger picture.

We’re not here to let the tail wag the dog! These awards put traveller experience front and centre – if the technology improves it, we’re onto something. The danger with technology is that people can get excited about it for its own sake. These awards are not about this, they’re about impacts and improvements in quality of life, real savings that bring down the cost of travel and the kinds of information that enable people to feel that they have control of their choices and the ways they get around.

There are huge numbers of conferences across fleet, automotive, technology, innovation, start ups, smart cities, Mobility as a Service, electric vehicles, communications and right across the transport sector. This plethora of events reflects a sea change in business models – pushed by trends in society but enabled by technology.

The automotive industry, long based on selling vehicles is being forced to reassess its business and look at moving towards passenger carrying services. Investments and partnerships with ride hailing companies, shared transport innovators and parking operators will create new mobility services whilst struggling to understand this very different business landscape.

Rail franchises specify innovation, but it is proving difficult to transfer the bright ideas that pop up in the start up sphere and create traction in the public sphere.

Innovations which could benefit cities and regions struggle when data is closed and siloed because embedded modes and operators find it hard to establish ways to break out of existing business structures. And cities fear innovators engaging in regulatory arbitrage to disrupt systems in ways that create negative unforeseen consequences.

The TRANStech awards cut across this landscape to bring together all the players in this new spectrum of public and private transport. 

They are here to reward innovation in the automotive sector where new business models increase electric vehicle uptake or new models of car sharing and vehicle optimisation. They’re here to highlight when bus operators enable seamless multi modal transport across whole regions. Or when the provision of open data helps grow the market and the passenger base through better information or ticketing or enabling the combination of modes and services.

We want to see entries from all sectors – from automotive innovators, the sharing economy, from bus and rail operators and from journey mapping, booking and payment platforms. These awards are for ticketing innovators, vehicle technologists, data analysts, API managers, platform providers, programmers, planners, developers and CX and UX designers. They are for everyone making transport better with technology.

Who should enter?

Anyone using technology to improve transport experience can enter – whether providing a new customer interface (like planning, booking and paying for transport) or managing the data and technology backbone that enables those services.

We’re looking for providers and platforms that enable new business models like mobility on subscription, vehicle sharing and innovative last mile solutions. We’re also looking for organisations championing and providing open data to enable these new ways of working.

But it’s not just about the digital world – it’s also about the impact on the real world. Does your technology help improve air quality? Or enable people to access or use electric vehicles more easily, cheaply or efficiently?

Then there’s the fleet. Whether a fleet is made up of bikes or buses (or any other shape or size of vehicle) technology is improving the way that fleets are managed. We want to hear from organisations who think their customers’ experience and use of their fleet is enhanced by technology. We’re seeing new ways to manage where cars, buses, trains and bikes are so that they’re there people need them, when they need them, with capacity and in great condition.

Lastly, these awards are about system changes. We’re looking for areas, rural and urban, that are shifting the way they do things to enable people to travel efficiently, cheaply and sustainably by using technology.  

What is TRANStech?

In recent years there has been a lot of talk of new sectors, such as FINtech, PROPtech, HEALTHtech, CLEANtech to name but a few. These neologisms are an umbrella for disruptive technology in a sector. Strange then that we don't talk about TRANStech!

TRANStech encapsulates projects and products, as well as innovations across a broad definition of technology with the end goal of improving the contribution of transport to society and the economy.

The TRANStech Awards, have been established by Landor LINKS, a leading specialist transport publisher to recognise imagination and innovation by those using technology to improve our transport system. They will reward excellence and achievement in both established and emerging areas of mobility and transport. The benefits to users and society as a whole is at the forefront of the assessment process for winners.

Across many modes, suppliers, system operators, transport agencies and new generation entrepreneurs are investing in rewriting the model for how we travel. New concepts and ideas are being applied in lots of areas such as Mobility as a Service (MaaS), digital transport, intelligent transport, energy-efficiency and automation. These innovations are now improving all modes. 

The TRANStech Awards provide the opportunity for forward-looking companies, organisations and individuals to put their achievements in the spotlight. The Awards will bring deserved recognition to those individuals and organisations who are using technology to improve transport.

For further information visit: www.transtechawards.co.uk

Head of Local Transport Modelling
Department for Transport

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Lancashire County Council
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Transport for the North
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