New transport data strategy to unlock multiple benefits

Passengers are set to benefit from a new digital transport strategy set out by the Department for Transport (DfT) that aims to improve the discoverability, quality and accessibility of transport data. 

The Transport Data Strategy sets out a plan to support a “healthy” transport ecosystem that will see the department work collaboratively with the transport sector to ensure that data plays a key role in the improvement of transport, with the aim of growing the economy, making it easy for people to plan journeys and reduce environmental impacts.

The strategy focuses on five key areas: improving data sharing to benefit transport users, promoting data standards, improving data skills in the workforce, ensuring appropriate governance and communication with the sector and providing leadership and support for the sector. 

As part of the strategy, the government is launching the ‘Find Transport Data’ pilot, a data catalogue that will make finding the data needed to innovate much easier. 

The DfT has already taken some steps to improve its data use, having facilitated the opening up of third-party data through initiatives such as the Bus Open Data Service (BODS), Street Manager, the development of the Rail Data Marketplace, and the modernisation of National Public Transport Access Nodes (NaPTAN). 

Unlocking new opportunities 

Through a range of research, the strategy shows better use of transport data can unlock multiple benefits for industry, government and users. It can be used to improve interconnectivity between different types of transport and support the development of journey-planning apps. It can also introduce new products and services for customers, while supporting employment opportunities in the transport sector, the report states. 

There are also societal and environmental benefits to consider. Better access to and use of data can deliver value by improving understanding of safety risks, optimising traffic management systems and supporting the green transport objectives of the Transport Decarbonisation Plan.

“Too often, transport data resides in silos and is not shared, which prevents the value of data being realised and opportunities unlocked,” Secretary of State for Transport Mark Harpe said about the strategy.

“I want to see faster change in data-enabled innovation in transport to help solve our key societal challenges, and create seamless, low emission, less congested journeys through integrating our transport systems.” 

Obstacles ahead

The strategy has outlined several challenge areas that need to be addressed if the transport sector is to be successful in its data transformation. 

These include uncertainty around data standards that is understood to be preventing data sharing, interoperability and innovation, as well as inconsistency in data literacy and culture and a lack of leadership that does not prioritise data sharing and value. 

The DfT also highlighted communication and engagement with users as being a key element to the effective use of data. “We need the engagement and support of a wide range of partners and stakeholders to make this work, and to keep iterating as technology and transport changes.” they said.

Government Data Forum


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