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INTELLIGENT MOBILITY IS AN END-USER AND OUTCOME-FOCUSED APPROACH TO CONNECTING PEOPLE, PLACES AND SERVICES - REIMAGINING INFRASTRUCTURE ACROSS ALL TRANSPORT MODES, ENABLED BY DATA, TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATIVE IDEAS.

IT WILL TRANSFORM PEOPLE'S JOURNEYS AND THE MOVEMENT OF GOODS, WHILST INCREASING THE EFFICIENCY, SUSTAINABILITY AND SAFETY OF OUR TRANSPORT SYSTEMS AND CITIES WORLDWIDE.

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Latest Angles

Jim Hanson
17 Feb 2017

The first-of-a-kind event was held in conjunction with the CES Conference, an annual consumer electronics and technology tradeshow in Las Vegas. In the spirit of the summit theme, taken from an Elvis Presley song, “A Little Less Conversation,” we helped Nevada do more than talk about intelligent mobility, or iM—they illustrated with real-world examples of advancements in the iM space.

I’m often asked, “So, what is intelligent mobility?”

It may mean different things to different clients depending where they are in their iM journey. Events like the GO-NV Summit helped clarify some aspects of iM for attendees. The bigger goal of GO-NV was to take the conversation toward action to start deploying solutions. 

Our approach to iM is a global one—each of our regions is working with clients, technologists, developers and solutions providers to address the growing scope of iM needs world-wide. Our definition is simple: Intelligent mobility is an end-user and outcome-focused approach to connecting people, places and services—reimagining infrastructure across all transport modes, enabled by data, technology and innovative ideas. We describe our iM work in four areas: the power to transform lives; progress and change; catalyst for collaboration, and implementation at its heart.

The Power to Transform Lives
Clearly, iM has the potential to enable people who struggle with finding safe, convenient, affordable travel options across all modes of transportation. We’re working with state and local governments across the country, facilitating innovative visioning and roadmap development sessions to address the rapidly evolving needs around iM.

The GO-NV Summit brought to life the four principles of our iM approach. The industry executives who spoke at the event provided attendees with an understanding of what technology and transportation companies, and their partners, are doing to advance mobility, the best practices for building smart and connected communities, and what is still needed for connected and autonomous vehicles, or CAVs, to become a viable mode of transportation for the general public. The speakers focused on how mobility will be achieved, building things locally in Nevada, using drone technology, and using Nevada as a testbed for CAV and other technologies.

Automation will help those who don’t have access achieve greater mobility, enabling them to do much more if they choose to do so.

It will also improve the safety of our transportation systems, resulting in less accidents, injury and death, which has spurred a lot of interest and passion around the topic. Who wouldn’t want safer, less congested roadways and safer, more reliable, convenient public transportation systems? 

Progress and Change
It’s difficult to think of another area with the same level of enthusiasm and excitement as iM. The developments and deployments involving iM seem to be gaining momentum daily. The collaboration of engineering companies with software developers and other nontraditional partners has resulted in rapid transformation in terms of driverless vehicles, safety features, and have included all aspects of the journey, from tolling to intelligent roadways. 

Las Vegas’ Economic Development Group is positioning for this change as a way to grow and advance. As one of the U.S.’s most popular tourist destinations, it’s in Las Vegas’s best interest to assure visitors their trip will be hassle-free and safe. The developments around iM will do just that—they will make visitors much more mobile (more transportation options and end-to-end journey planning), less stressed (removing cars from roadways), and safer (CAVs, intelligent systems to manage traffic). 

Catalyst for Collaboration
We can best describe our role in iM as innovation facilitators. We excel at bringing a variety of stakeholders together around an issue, facilitating discussion, bringing solutions and solution providers forward, and turning ideas into actionable outcomes. It’s very much a team effort—our team of technologists and experts in the intelligent mobility field brings together developers, software engineers, government agencies and planners, among others, to develop and deploy workable iM solutions.

Intelligent mobility has created collaboration among data specialists, software developers, federal and state and local agencies, entrepreneurs, vehicle manufacturers, and technology and engineering companies like ours. Interoperability of systems, getting systems to “talk” to each other and work seamlessly, has mandated collaboration. Nevada Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada’s Freeway & Arterial System of Transportation, or FAST, is a perfect example of this—a truly integrated intelligent transportation system (ITS) organization, one of the first in the country. 

Implementation at Its Heart
Being able to develop solutions and implement them safely and seamlessly is our overall goal in iM. The City of Las Vegas and Clark County have implemented leave in place—not a demo or a pilot project, but early deployments that can be adjusted while deployed. Through collaboration, using techniques like visioning and ideation, we’re helping clients develop a roadmap for iM. Las Vegas took one step closer in January as NAVYA and Keolis, in partnership with the City of Las Vegas, launched the first autonomous electric shuttle ever to be deployed on a public roadway in the United States.

During this GO-NV Summit, we helped Las Vegas become one of the only locations in the world to host interoperable connected vehicles accessing the same roadside units (RSU). In the spirit of collaboration, several manufacturers shared access to RSUs to demonstrate CAV applications during CES. The Summit's speakers focused on the current projects making advanced mobility a reality today, including specific accomplishments and successful public-private partnerships.

Cleary iM momentum is building. Just one week later, we showcased our experience during an interview with the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada for an investment study to explore combining various modes of transportation—innovation/tech. Opportunities exist in Colorado with CDOT’s RoadX program, the Miami-Dade County Metropolitan Planning Organization in Florida for its CAVs program, and others across the US.

As we see conversation become reality in the iM space, we also recognize that there is still much to be done—cybersecurity advancements, assessing and planning for energy needs, communications systems, and flawless logistics are all areas that are conversation topics with action most likely not far behind. 

North America ,

Jonathan Spear
14 Feb 2017

Transport planners in cities around the world – after decades of neglect – are now acknowledging the functionality of walking and cycling, in particular for short local trips and as ‘first and last mile’ connections to public transport. But another mode of urban mobility is emerging which could add to the mix of options and prove a game changer.

The new mode is known by some as Personal Mobility Devices, or PMDs. These are generally lightweight motorised vehicles powered by small electric motors to increase travel speed and distance of individual users without major exertion. PMDs come at a time when infrastructure investment and targeted marketing campaigns have helped grow take up of active travel modes which are increasingly recognised in terms of value and benefits to public realm and health. The term embraces a plethora of new consumer products such as e-scooters, hoverboards, electric monowheels and mini segways. New devices continue to be developed and are falling in price to levels well within the reach of those on middle incomes.

In most cities to date PMDs have mostly been used for leisure purposes. Some of us have given them to our children as playthings and we are increasingly seeing young people riding them in parks and on footpaths for recreation. Because they have a largely niche application and due to the lack of a clear legal definition they have largely escaped the serious scrutiny of transport planning professionals and not received much consideration as part of the accepted hierarchy of transport modes.

Where policy makers have stepped in the approach has often been to ban or restrict PMDs from footways or public spaces on the basis of health and safety, risk to other users and regulatory ambiguity around technical standards.And PMDs are often not allowed to be carried on aeroplanes or trains on the grounds of limited space for storage or the fire risk posed by their battery packs. 

It is easy to dismiss PMDs as a passing gimmick, or let decisions be made on the narrow basis of health and safety or poorly designed and maintained infrastructure, rather than see their wider potential for use on short distance trips. While safety concerns will – and should – always have priority these devices may yet, in my opinion, have a positive role to play in urban mobility policy and extending the accessibility of public transport.

It is therefore time we defined our terms properly, gathered the evidence and had in open debate about the role of PMDs alongside walking and cycling as viable alternatives to the car. The profession must also seek to create proactive and safe deployment through clear standards and guidelines.

Singapore is one city where PMDs are gaining traction as a key component of a ‘car- lite’ society, as a strong alternative mode for first and last mile links to public transport and as an important element of creating a sustainable and ‘liveable’ city. Such devices feature prominently in the Government’s ‘Walk-Cycle-Ride Singapore’ campaign, are allowed to share certain walking and cycling infrastructure and are a focus within events such as Car Free Sundays.

Proponents argue that PMDs serve much the same role as walking and cycling in reducing car dependency and extend the catchment of public transport without the need for major infrastructure investment or feeder bus or taxi services.

They also do so in a manner which is appropriate to Singapore’s tropical climate where heat and humidity deter many people from intense physical exertion for much of the year. Against these arguments critics have expressed serious concerns over the dangers posed to pedestrians by reckless riding and point out that PMDs have only a fraction of the health benefits of non-motorised transport.

Now after much debate the Singapore Government is legislating to set clear rules and regulations as to what riders of PMDs can and cannot do and where they can do it. The Singapore Government introduced an Active Mobility Bill in November 2016, which is currently completing Parliamentary approval and enactment is due early this year. The Bill includes the use of PMDs and limits their speed to between 15 and 25km/h depending on type, route and location.

A series of rules and a code of conduct are being set out to encourage responsible use. Rules include the need for lights to be fitted and turned on at night, use of hand signals, observing of all relevant traffic regulations and exchanging personal details in the event of an accident. Penalties of up to S$5000 (about £2800) will be handed down for reckless riding behaviour, with custodial sentences of up to 12 months for the most serious offences.

Over the last year ownership of PMDs has grown in Singapore, especially e-scooters which are increasingly being seen on the streets. There is an active and competitive supplier market developing and a proposal has been made for a public e-scooter hire scheme, operating much like the public cycle hire schemes of London and Paris.

The question in my mind is whether Singapore’s acceptance of PMDs offers an example for other cities across the world seeking to safely adopt the latest wave of innovation. And are PMDs a passing fad, an unsafe nuisance or potentially a disruptive form of technology here to stay? If such devices are recognised as a proper transport mode how do we weigh their costs, benefits and wider impacts and adapt the design and maintenance of infrastructure and public realm to allow their safe (and as appropriate shared) use? Would the policy adopted in Singapore play well in other cities with a hot or tropical climate, such as Kuala Lumpur or Dubai, or even in those with temperate conditions such as London, New York or Munich? Will cities leading on public transport or cycling such as Zurich, Amsterdam and Copenhagen see PMDs as irrelevant, a threat or an opportunity?

Like the long running debate over shared design and use of infrastructure and public space between pedestrians and cyclists there will likely be a wide range of views, enthusiasms and concerns over the wider take up of PMDs, some of them passionately held on both sides. In deciding future policy for any given city, we should assess evidence from around the world to help shape what could be an exciting new aspect of urban mobility.

Find out more about Intelligent Mobility(iM) here.
Join the Intelligent Mobility conversation on LinkedIn.
This article first appeared in Transportation Professional, the magazine of the Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation.

Asia Pacific ,

Chris Raven
14 Feb 2017

In December 2015 Atkins was commissioned to design, tender and oversee landscape improvements around Ivybridge Primary School in Isleworth, London.

The school's existing external environment consisted of large open areas of tarmac with inaccessible boundaries and overgrown vegetation. Our brief was to design multi-functional landscape features that support learning across the curriculum whilst also providing improved playtime resources for Reception, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.

The project has been a great success and so I wanted to share my five step process for achieving the perfect design project:

1. Engage the wider community during the consultation

Gaining comment and inspiration from teachers, pupils, parents and maintenance staff is the best way to ensure any project meets and hopefully exceeds the ambitions of the client.

Rather than asking a simple "What do you want?" we provided a number of consultation questions, such as "What do you currently like/dislike externally" and "What would you like to be able to do in your school grounds?" to prompt deeper thought and provide better insights for us as designers.

2. Interpret aspirations and transform ideas into inspired designs

Inevitably, early consultation comments can include unachievable aspirations. Rather than dismiss these requests or take them literally, we strive to incorporate the sensations or experiential qualities the children are seeking with these elements into our landscape designs.

For example, At Ivybridge Primary School the pupils had requested a bouncy castle and helter skelter. We were able to install a bouncy board belt feature that provided the bouncy castle sensation and replicate the swing and spin sensation of a helter skelter by incorporating a basket swing.

3. Support the client through the decision making process

School communities usually find hand drawn sketches far easier to interpret and understand than 2D CAD models. We developed three initial interpretations of the design brief, including annotated plans, hand drawn sketches and precedent images, while developing detailed indications of costs for different elements and features to make the school’s decision making as easy and informed as possible.

This was also a fantastic opportunity to involve pupils and use the design process to develop their mathematical and comparison skills.

4. Bring the design to life

Where possible we undertake construction during school holidays to minimise disruption to teaching. In the case of Ivybridge Primary School the construction phase was mostly carried out over the summer holidays, achieving completion on schedule, within budget and to a very high standard.

5. Our work is done - time to celebrate!

Projects like this are extremely rewarding and make me proud to be a landscape architect. With the playground completed in November 2016 we’ve had some excellent feedback on how the pupils have been enjoying their new learning and play area, as well as how teachers are finding innovative ways of bringing the curriculum outside of the classroom.

I look forward to my next playground project!

The above images show some of the features we included in the Ivybridge Primary School playground design, including a basket swing for inclusive play, a slope climbing area to make us of previously unused space, outdoor classrooms and a wet play fountain. 

 

UK & Europe ,

Phil R Davis
13 Feb 2017

It's an exciting time for STEM skills. There is an almost universal acceptance that we have a STEM skills shortage in the UK. Regardless of Brexit, we need to be better at 'growing our own' engineers and future thinkers as they will be critical to maintaining and growing our industrial output and making the Government's Industrial Strategy a reality.

Our 2015 report The Skills Deficit. Consequences and opportunities for UK infrastructure created by the national skills shortage explored the likely impact of prolonged STEM skills shortages in the transport, water, energy and digital infrastructure sectors. Two recent publications have brought this issue into even further focus: Sadiq Khan's ‘A City For All Londoners’ and the Government's Industrial Strategy.

In my role as Atkins' director of technical learning & development I need to be very aware of the factors that affect our corporate level of technical skills. I often use the analogy of a water tank, where the fluid level represents the collective skills of our people at any point in time. The level is increased as the tank is topped up by new entrants, apprentices and graduates; also by training colleagues. The fluid level diminishes when skills perish through technological advances and as colleagues retire. And to extend the analogy further, the tank becomes larger as we move into new capability areas - which may lower the fluid level, unless we are prepared!

So what are we doing to keep our skills tank topped up and how can we support the Mayor's plan?

Showing young people that STEM careers can be fulfilling and rewarding is a great start and our outreach programmes such as Pathways to Engineering and Love Plays seek to do just that in London. Young people can have mixed views about what a STEM career involves and requires from them. Providing contact with our professionals is one of the best ways to encourage, inform and dispel the myths. We have a particularly exciting story to tell about engineering design consultancy, part of the profession that is largely hidden from the public consciousness. So we're really keen to further collaborate with other STEM employers in London, for example through the Tomorrow's Engineers programme, to reach some of the schools as yet unsupported by our sectors.

Two years ago, I visited a school in east London to explore ways of supporting new maths and science teachers. During the visit, I was amazed to discover just how many students were fluent in another language, often from countries in the middle or far-east. In a global consultancy business such as ours, those language skills are highly valued in a professional engineer. My host was also excited to learn of this potential competitive advantage her pupils had in the employment stakes.

When it comes to applying for employment as an apprentice we find that many students are unaware of how to apply - and how to apply themselves to the application process. Our Pathways to Engineering programme aims to level the playing field in schools where STEM students may lack an awareness of how to present themselves to best effect when applying to a professional services employer. With our partner Citizens UK, we're keen to introduce other STEM employers and London schools to the programme and thereby reach out to further, as yet untapped, potential talent.

As a member of the Technician's Apprenticeship Consortium, Atkins has been involved with several Trailblazer apprenticeship programmes, developing new standards in areas related to engineering design consultancy. Presently we are collaborating in the creation of two new design engineering degree apprenticeships. On-the-job, vocational learning is a key aspect of any apprenticeship, so we want the Government to not only encourage recruitment of apprentices, but to make it easier for apprentices to be used on all projects, as their apprenticeship status can sometimes preclude them from working on major infrastructure projects.

We also need to continue to work at retaining skilled professionals as they near the end of their careers, through flexible working arrangements including 'zero hour' contracts that, when used responsibly and applied fairly, can work really well for both parties in these instances. We would like to see proactive support for flexible deployment of all our skilled professionals in public sector work so that we can bring a diverse range of talents to bear on the city's challenges.

Read Atkins’ full response to ‘A City For All Londoners’

UK & Europe ,

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Projects

To most people, the M25 is 440km of motorway, a daily commute or a punchline. 

But to a small group of specialists it is most visible as a stream of data. From thousands of cameras and other sensors, they see progress, air quality, climate, accidents and repairs. 

In June 2015, Atkins teams in London, India and the US joined forces with innovation partners Fluxx and Connect Plus Services, the organisation that manages the M25, to develop innovative ways to use this data to improve the lives of commuters.  

The brief was simple; deliver intelligent interventions to improve travel experiences

“I know the pain that people suffer on the M25, and seeing the data that we collect being used in a completely different way, the benefits it unlocks, is brilliant,” said Tim Hughes, Intelligent Mobility Product Manager at Atkins.

This event, organised by the Atkins Digital Incubator, represented a new way of working. “How do we drive value more quickly?” asks Atkins CIO Richard Cross, “Not spend months thinking, but develop something quickly, experiment and improve?”

“What’s crucial is having the transport planners in the room,” said Product Manager Ashkan Miri. “They’re working directly with developers to build the vision of the product they’re working on.”

To learn more about digital engineering or book a visit to the Atkins Digital Incubator, contact Gary Wilson: Gary.Wilson@atkinsglobal.com

UK ,

Atkins as part of the VENTURER consortium is trialling autonomous vehicles in the Bristol and South Gloucestershire council areas to explore the feasibility of driverless cars in the UK. The trial is being funded by Innovate UK to investigate the legal and insurance aspects of the new technology and explore how the public react to such vehicles.

Transport Minister Claire Perry and Business Secretary Vince Cable launched the VENTURER consortium’s driverless car trial in February 2015, giving the project the green light to test autonomous vehicles in the real world.

The VENTURER consortium is made up of a range of organisations from across different sectors:

  • Atkins: lead partner, providing project co-ordination, delivery and intelligent mobility expertise
  • AXA UK: insurance and legal expertise  
  • Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council: access to public roads and local road network intelligence
  • First Bus: as part of the work being done around driver assistance technologies, First will provide a bus as a means of collecting data
  • Fusion Processing: advanced sensor systems
  • Williams Advanced Engineering: driving simulator expertise
  • Centre for Transport and Society, University of the West of England: research on public expectations, acceptance and response
  • University of Bristol: car to infrastructure communications
  • Bristol Robotics Lab, University of the West of England & University of Bristol: hosting the trial centre and providing systems integration and decision-making algorithms.

The VENTURER trial will run for 36 months. Testing of the consortium’s autonomous vehicle, the BAE Systems Wildcat, on private and public roads is due to begin in early 2016.

UK ,

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