07:12 Friday 4th October 2013
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
[P]AUL STAINTON: Now the A14 will become the first road in Britain to host a new type of wireless technology. A mile long stretch of the road from Felixstowe to Cambridge will be fitted with sensors which will be able to send information directly to drivers. it’s called white space technology, and a Cambridgeshire company called Neul has been picked to work alongside the Department of Transport in trialling it. Tracy Hopkins is from Neul. Morning.
TRACY HOPKINS: Good morning Paul. And good morning to your listeners.
PAUL STAINTON: This is not wi-fi as we would know it, is it? It’s slightly different isn’t it?
TRACY HOPKINS: It’s not wi-fi at all.
PAUL STAINTON: Right.
TRACY HOPKINS: It’s .. white space if you like is the gaps in the spectrum where the analogue television used to live. So it’s totally new and totally different.
PAUL STAINTON: What does it do?
TRACY HOPKINS: What does it do? Ah, well, .. The A14 trial itself is quite unique, in the fact that we’re using this new available spectrum to try and if you like initiate the start of smart roads. So what we’re doing, we have a network of base stations, like cellular base stations, but these are very low cost and easy to install, installed along the A14 in BT’s exchanges. BT are a partner in this trial also. And what we’re doing is we’re fitting sensors into vehicles that will be interfaced by the user on a mobile phone – obviously one that’s safely installed in a car. And details on the position of the car and potentially other things will be sent through the base station, so over the white space network, up into the cloud, where they can be accessed by the Department of Transport. And if you like analytics can be performed on traffic flow and traffic congestion and where the cars are. Data can be sent back down from the cloud to the drivers so that they can see where to avoid, or be given directions on which routes to take.
PAUL STAINTON: Is it any better than sat-nav? Just sounds like sat-nav to me.
TRACY HOPKINS: It sounds like sat-nav, but it’s different to sat-nav because you can aggregate all of the data from maybe senors in the road to complement it, as well as position and speed of vehicles in the cloud. And you get a richer data feed to the driver.
PAUL STAINTON: How does it help the driver though, if you’re already stuck on the A14?
TRACY HOPKINS: If you’re already stuck on the A14, I don’t think it helps you at all. But if you think, if this was installed along the whole length of the road, it can almost be like predictive smart traffic flow. The idea is ultimately to have this along the whole length of the road from Felixstowe up to Milton Keynes up to Birmingham. To the end of the A14 if you like. So that you can if you like get a message, or some information before you start your journey on where the traffic congestion is. And this can be updated live as the traffic is moving.
PAUL STAINTON: Right. So it’s like a constantly updating sat-nav system effectively, that would warn you where the problems were.
TRACY ROBERTS: Yes effectively. But ultimately it will add an awful lot more information. The traffic if you like the speed of the traffic flow could be adjusted depending on weather for instance, if the roads were icy, if the roads were wet.
PAUL STAINTON: And what else could it be used for? Is there a prospect in the future for developing this technology further?
TRACY HOPKINS: Most definitely. Neul itself is a start-up company in Cambridge. We have about 30 people. And our focus is on deploying — well we want to be the network of a service provider. Now that just means we will provide infrastructure. like cellular network base stations. But this is for low power wide area networks, and a connected device platform that enables millions of things to connect to the internet. I don’t know if your users (!) have heard of the term the internet of things. This actually gained an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary this year. And the definition in the dictionary is ” a proposed employment of the internet in which everyday objects have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data.” Do the actual if you like end game for this technology is multiplex. We believe it will be in business services, so for instance you can monitor ..
PAUL STAINTON: OK. There are a wide range of services and ways in which we can use it in the future. I think we get the idea, and it’s at its embryonic stage right now. It’s going to be trialled on the A14. Tracy thank you for that this morning. Tracy Hopkins. So your journey might get better in the future.