UK tech start-up Zipabout has announced its intention to give away its revolutionary smart city technology to every local authority across the country in a bid to help transform UK cities into intelligent transport hubs. With local authority budgets already stretched by funding cuts and ambitious air quality and congestion targets to hit, Zipabout’s offer to provide cutting-edge technology will enable the public sector to fully embrace smart city innovation while avoiding further cost.
The ‘Zipabout Transport Graph’, a big data and communications platform, can incorporate bespoke transport schemes including sustainable initiatives such as dock-less bikes, lift shares and Park&Ride into any existing public transport network. Using unique demand mapping technology alongside cutting-edge data technology – pioneered by such web giants as Facebook – supply is then fully matched to passenger demand in real time.
The ground-breaking technology even supports trials of autonomous vehicles and community transport schemes, bringing together all local and national mobility-as-a-service (Maas) programmes on one common platform with no capital investment required. Local authorities will also be able to align live passenger and transport information to sustainable targets such as air quality and traffic congestion. By pulling data from multiple sources, the platform can predict pollution issues or transport disruption, and provide motorists, cyclists or pedestrians with personalised routing alternatives in real time.
Developed and trialled in Oxford, the platform is already proving a key element in Oxfordshire County Council’s ambitious target for the city to be the world’s first zero emissions zone. The unprecedented move to offer the technology free of charge for local authorities heralds a breakthrough for public sector smart city planning. The innovative platform provides a digital backbone that enables authorities to focus on delivering smart city programmes without the danger of potentially wasting public funds on re-inventing basic ‘big-data’ capabilities for each pilot project.
Commenting on the launch of the altruistic initiative, Daniel Chick, Zipabout’s Technical Director, said: “By making this unique and powerful platform available to local authorities free of charge, we are helping to ensure that they can provide sustainable transport and other smart city initiatives that can compete on a technical level with the likes of Uber, CityMapper and other global technology giants.We are helping to ensure that these services are delivered in an integrated fashion, and for the benefit of their constituents, not a tech giant’s shareholders.
The platform has been developed using sophisticated technologies originally developed for the online advertising sector and uses the global scale of the Amazon Web Services cloud infrastructure to scale to the demands of any city or region. It is also the only platform globally to deliver personalised communications via any channel, allowing local authorities to more effectively engage with their transport users in real time through social media and other direct messaging channels.
Zipabout has collaborated with Oxfordshire County Council to launch the first successful trial of the platform across Oxfordshire. Llewelyn Morgan, Service Manager Infrastructure, Innovation and Development at Oxfordshire County Council, commented: “We have been working with Zipabout to develop new ways to inform customers about travel options and planning in Oxfordshire, and it is clear that they have created a platform which truly looks to future behaviour and market demands.Through layering of multiple data sets from operators and traffic to social media and consumer data, the platform enables a real personalised experience that enables us to work with partners to better manage the transport network. This user-focused platform also provides a base for Oxfordshire to support development of a mobility-as-a-service offer, as it covers off many of the tricky data integration issues we have experienced in the past.”
The platform will be available via the Amazon Marketplace from mid 2018.