York Is Using Real-Time Data To Prevent Traffic Jams

The city of York intends to use real-time data to change traffic light timings, thereby reducing congestion and jams on its road network…

A Data-Driven York?

There isn’t a single city in the UK which, at some point, doesn’t deal with congestion or traffic jams on its roads; and York is no exception. Where it differs, however, is in its strategy to improve road conditions. It’s opted for the novel option of using real-time data to adapt traffic light timings; based on the level of traffic being experienced at a given time. Based on a trial, it’s thought that the scheme could reduce congestion by around 10%.

In explaining the initiative, the city council gave the example of a road traffic collision on the York outer ring road. The new, data-driven software would be able to predict the impact on the wider road network. This would allow city authorities to reactive ‘live’ and therefore much more quickly. Historically, York has relied on CCTV cameras and social media updates in order to deal with poor road conditions or collisions.

Positive Results 

Whilst the initiative may sound somewhat unusual, trials already suggest that it’s working. Dave Atkinson, head of programmes at City of York Council, said “at this early stage it’s already proving to be a success”. He explained, “we’re able to predict future traffic levels based on our live traffic behaviour and manage the flow of traffic better in busy periods; by adjusting traffic lights to best suit traffic conditions”.

Given that there are now in excess of 40 million registered motor vehicles in the UK, it’s likely that road conditions are going to get worse; especially post-Covid, with more and more people opting to use cars over public transport. It’s crucial, then, that local authorities employ the latest technologies in keeping traffic flowing.

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