Bringing together experts from all over Europe, the project will be implemented in the East Midlands first, thanks to the participation of local bodies such as Leicester, Nottingham and De Montfort Universities as well as Leicester City Council and local firm Astrium Services. It is hoped that the region will become a world leader in traffic management research and the European Commission has already announced funding of almost £2.5 million to support the programme.
THE ISSUE (Transport Health Environment – Intelligent Solutions Sustaining Urban Economies) is a three-year research project involving experts from British academic institutions and those from other areas of Europe, including the Molise region of Italy, France’s Midi-Pyrenees and Aquitaine regions in France and the Mazovia region, Poland.
Public bodies and engineers will work alongside the academic researchers on THE ISSUE, using the latest IT and even space technology, developed at Leicester’s National Space Centre, to find ways to improve traffic management in urban areas and, in particular, to come up with schemes to tackle traffic congestion. The participants hope to develop new solutions that will actually introduced into town and city centres or which will have an impact on the policies of local and national governments.
Over 70 people representing all the different organisations involved in THE ISSUE attended the official launch of the project on January 18, with a welcome address from Cllr Rory Palmer, Leicester’s deputy city mayor and cabinet lead on transport and climate change.
In his speech to delegates he welcomed the opportunity for Leicester City Council to work alongside academics on projects that will benefit the lives of local people as well as many others who live much further afield. He added that better traffic management and reduced congestion will all help Leicester City Council in meeting their lower carbon targets and improving air quality in urban areas.
Another speaker at the launch was Professor Alan Wells the scientific leader of THE ISSUE project. He welcomed the EU funding as being vital for coordinating research from around the continent and insisted that he and his colleagues at Leicester University would be working closely with the public bodies who have responsibility for traffic management in their own areas.
Professor Wells added that he hoped both academia and industry would be able to work effectively together, focusing on the important relationship between research and practical applications. The most important aspect of THE ISSUE, according to Professor Wells, is to remember that their findings may well have an impact on people’s everyday lives and how traffic is managed in towns and cities throughout the world.
The European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme – ‘Regions of Knowledge’ has provided the funding for THE ISSUE, a scheme which promotes research projects involving different areas of Europe. Representatives from all five region involved in THE ISSUE were at the National Space Centre launch event, with speakers from the universities involved revealing what their institutions can bring to the traffic management projects.