This is how Oxfordshire is shaping the future of UK travel

By: Oxfordshire County Council

The first use of fully connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) on public roads is set to take place in Oxfordshire, following the announcement of government funding into a trial project.

Innovate UK has today (25 February) announced the award of £2.5 million to trial self-driving vehicles in and around Milton Park, the large, high-tech business and science hub near Didcot. The vehicles will travel between private roads at Milton Park and the public roads that link the site with nearby transport services.

The 30-month MultiCAV project will be undertaken by a consortium of organisations with different sector backgrounds who are investing in the development of autonomous vehicles, and led by UK transport operator FirstGroup.

Despite being relatively close to Didcot Parkway station, most travel to and from Milton Park is currently done in private vehicles. With the site set to expand in the coming years, the MultiCAV consortium is building on the work already underway to provide the park with long-term, safe sustainable transport.

Commuters to the site will be able to connect with the self-driving pods from local transport services, while booking and paying for their trip in one easy process.

It is hoped that by the end of the trial up to 50% of private vehicle journeys within the business park will switch to using the shared, electric-powered pods.

BEIS Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Minister for Business and Energy, Richard Harrington, said: “Through these competitions, we are offering innovative businesses support to take their projects to the next level and help them achieve commercial success. The projects that we are nurturing mean that we are a step closer to securing our place as a world leader in self-driving vehicles. This significant investment is a mark of the innovation that is at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy. The development of new technologies is a cornerstone of the UK’s world-class science and research and will ensure that we deliver a Britain fit for the future by creating jobs and the skills needed to succeed.”

Innovate UK Chief Executive Ruth McKernan said: “The quality and commercial potential of these successful projects demonstrate how UK businesses are developing pioneering connected and autonomous vehicle technologies. The impact will benefit our thriving automotive industry and the economy as a whole.”

Yvonne Constance, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for Environment and Economy, said: “Oxfordshire was the first council to consider autonomous vehicles within its transport policy and has been a supporter of the technology since it’s infancy in the UK.

“We have an incredible concentration of AV related companies, and in Culham, RACE the UK’s real world test bed facility.

“The county council has been keen on including innovation in the delivery of Didcot Garden Town from the very start and this project will be one of the first to demonstrate the approach and further enhance Oxfordshire’s place as a world leader in applied learning and development of AVs.”

John Birtwistle, project lead for FirstGroup, said: “We’re excited to be leading the first mainstream use of autonomous vehicles in the UK. By connecting the Milton Park development with the existing regional transport infrastructure, including Great Western Railway trains at Didcot Parkway station, commuters will see a tangible reason to leave their cars at home. It’s a huge step towards tackling the problem of congestion on our roads and enabling the sustainable future development of the business park and, potentially, other similar sites in the future.”

Vectos, a London-based transport consultancy, has been helping MEPC identify sustainable travel initiatives at Milton Park.

Veronica Reynolds, Behavioural Change Advisor at Vectos, said: “A key aim of the Milton Park Travel Forum is to work closely with the Park’s business leaders to future-proof the park’s transport offer. This innovative new project builds on the work of that Forum and its vision to provide more and greener travel options. We would like to thank everyone at Milton Park for the support we have received to date which has undoubtedly contributed to the success in securing this project funding.”

Philip Campbell, Commercial Director for MEPC at Milton Park said: “Milton Park is at the heart of UK’s most fertile innovation economy and this project is about using technology developed by some of the best brains in the world to improve sustainable transport choice. The fruition of this project will give Milton Park occupiers better choice in their daily travel decisions and the chance to be amongst the first in the world to travel on autonomous shuttle vehicles for their everyday journeys.”

John Cotton, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “The funding will deliver an exciting regular commercial service, using innovative transport, to connect residents, visitors and workers to the surrounding business community based on Milton Park – one of the main principles in the Didcot Garden Town plan.”

Matthew Barber, Leader of the Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “Science Vale UK is already renowned for creating state-of-the-art technology and, along with our business partners, we are delighted to receive the Innovate UK grant that confirms our ambitions to establish the Science Vale at the forefront of bringing zero emission autonomous public transport to our region.”

About the delivery partners

The MultiCAV consortium comprises:

FirstGroup (overall coordination and project lead)
Arrival (manufacturer of electric vehicles)
Zipabout (MaaS system developers)
Milton Park (providers of infrastructure in business park
South Oxfordshire District Council (local planning authority)
Vale of White Horse District Council (local planning authority)
Oxfordshire County Council (local transport authority)
The University of the West of England (user evaluation)
Nova Modus (autonomous transport consultants)

This article first appeared on the website of Oxfordshire County Council on 26th February 2018.


City Council wins £1.7m to introduce Oxford’s first fully-electric double-decker buses

By: Oxford City Council


Oxford City Council has won £1.7m to introduce the first fully-electric double-decker buses to Oxford later this year.

The funding will retrofit five of the city’s open-top sightseeing buses to become fully electric, and retrofit 78 local buses to become significantly less polluting.

The electric buses are expected to be available later this year.

Oxford city centre currently has illegally-high levels of toxic nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which contributes to diseases including cancer, asthma, stroke and heart disease.

2016 report found that outdoor air pollution causes around 40,000 deaths in the UK every year.

Across Oxford city centre, there has been a 36.9 per cent drop in NOlevels at roadside over the last decade.

A significant contributor to this reduction was the Low Emission Zone, which was introduced in Oxford city centre by Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council in 2014.

The zone, which was the first outside London, requires all Oxford buses to be low emission and meet the Euro V emission standard.

The £1.7m will retrofit 78 of Oxford’s buses to the Euro VI standard. This, alongside the fully-electric buses, is expected to significantly reduce NO2 levels across the city centre.

Oxford City Council won the £1.7m funding from the Department of Transport’s Clean Bus Technology Fund, which has given £40m to 20 local authorities to reduce bus emissions.

The City Council worked with the main local bus operators – Oxford Bus Company, which also owns City Sightseeing Oxford, and Stagecoach in Oxfordshire – on the funding bid. The operators will carry out the retrofitting.

The funding will be allocated over the next 15 months, with £938,910 given in 2017/18 and £724,020 in 2018/19. The retrofitting will be carried out on a rolling basis until April 2019.

In the 1990s, four electric Optare MetroRider minibuses were trialled in Oxford.

Despite the reduction in air pollution, latest monitoring data has found that NOlevels appear to have plateaued above the legal limits in some parts of the city. Between 2011 and 2013, average NO2 levels across the city centre fell by 18.9 per cent; but between 2014 and 2016 they fell by just 3.9 per cent.

To tackle this, last year the City and County Councils announced plans to introduce the world’s first Zero Emission Zone in Oxford city centre.

The zone will ban all emitting vehicles in phrases, starting with some vehicle types and a small number of streets in 2020 and, as vehicle technology develops, moves to all vehicle types across the whole city centre in 2035.

The new funding will support the implementation of the Zero Emission Zone, and will help reduce pollution in the city centre before 2020.

The City Council, supported by the County Council, also recently won £500,000 of Government funding to install charging points for electric taxis and £800,000 of Government funding to install 100 electric vehicle charging points for Oxford residents to support zone’s implementation.

The Government announced plans in July 2017 to ban all new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040.

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council, said: “I am delighted that this grant will enable us to introduce fully-electric buses to Oxford. Currently Oxford has air pollution levels in the city centre which are above legal levels and therefore can damage the health of Oxford’s residents and visitors.

“We are looking at all measures possible to reduce pollution in our city centre. In recent years, nitrogen dioxide levels have remained fairly constant, so we need to take more radical measures to tackle this issue. The Zero Emission Zone is one such step change, but this will help us to achieve our goal of cleaner air.”

Oxford Bus Company Managing Director, Phil Southall, said: “This is excellent news for the city of Oxford and is the result of key stakeholders working together to unlock crucial Government funding for the wider benefit of the community we all serve. This is the first step in a long progress towards introducing ultra-low or zero emission buses more widely within Oxford.

“We are particularly pleased that we have been successful in our bid to upgrade five of our City Sightseeing Oxford Buses to full electric operation. These will allow us to gain experience of this developing technology.

 “As a bus operator we have always prided ourselves as being at the forefront of leading the UK on environmental technology innovation and over half of our buses are powered by hybrid technology. The new funding will enable us to take this even further.”

Martin Sutton, Managing Director of Stagecoach in Oxfordshire, said: “I am delighted that Oxford City Council’s bid has been successful.  

“Most of our buses on Oxford city routes are fairly new and are either electric hybrid powered or already comply with the latest emissions standards.

“This funding will enable us to upgrade the rest of our Oxford city fleet to the highest Euro 6 standard. As well as further reducing our NOx and other emissions, we hope to be able to persuade even more people to make cleaner, greener journeys by bus”

Transport Minister Nusrat Ghani said: “Buses and coaches are hugely important to those who rely on them and to the communities in which these people live and work.

“Road transport is going to change dramatically over the next couple of decades – and we have to make sure that the bus industry is ready to benefit from those changes.

“We have to move away from nose-to-tail car traffic at peak times, endless engine idling, stop-start travel and rising pollution and carbon emissions. Rather than contributing to the problem – buses and coaches very much form part of the solution.”

Environment Minister Therese Coffey said: “Poor air quality affects public health, the economy and the environment, which is why we are determined to do more.

“I am delighted to see so many high quality applications to the Clean Bus Technology Fund and, as a result, the government has decided to bring forward funding meaning that we will award nearly £40 million to retrofit more than 2,700 buses.

“This is another way which the government is delivering on its commitment to improving the environment within a generation and leave it in a better state than we found

This article first appeared on the Oxford City Council website on 9th February 2018


Star Light, Star Bright – Smart Oxford Playable City Commission launches

people playing

Watershed and Smart Oxford are delighted to announce the winner of the first Smart Oxford Playable City Commission will be available for the public to play with from Jan 19.

The creators of Star Light, Star Bright, UK based, Hellion Trace (formerly Guerrilla Dance Project) will invite citizens to activate beams of light to map star constellations from the night sky onto the streets of Oxford.

The open call for ideas received 82 applications from artists, designers, architects, technologists and creative practitioners from 28 countries around the world who proposed new and distinctive ideas to respond to the theme Shared City.

Star Light, Star Bright maps the night sky onto the streets of Oxford via pressure sensitive lights embedded in the ground. Placed in clusters across the city, the lights encourage players to gather together to map constellations from the night sky. Each “star” will shine brighter as more are activated, until the final star cues super bright beams of light – bathing the people beneath in a constellation of stars. This city-wide intervention brings life to dark winter streets, connecting strangers for a shared moment of discovery and wonder.

Laura Kriefman, founder of Hellion Trace, says “We are so excited that Hellion Trace have been awarded the Smart Oxford Playable City Commission. Having been actively involved in the Playable City movement for years, it is great to be able to create a city-wide piece in the UK. Hellion Trace can’t wait to make the stars shine bright, for all the citizens of the beautiful City of Oxford”

The judges were particularly excited by opportunities for connection between the diverse populations who live, visit and work within Oxford and the connection to Oxford’s history of space exploration from Radcliffe Observatory to the European Space Agency at Harwell.

As winners of the Award, Hellion Trace will received £30,000 and support from Playable City to help realise their ideas.

The Smart Oxford Playable City Commission is produced by Watershed and supported by:

Lucy Group
Oxford Bus Company
Oxford Brookes University
University of Oxford
Science Oxford
Oxford City Council
Oxfordshire County Council

Smart Oxford : Playable City Commission

We invited innovators, technologists and creative people from around the world
to submit a distinctive idea to help make Oxford more liveable, open and collaborative city.

Making use of the city’s existing infrastructure and smart city technologies,the winning entry Star Light, Star Bright will put people and play at the heart of the city and catch the imagination of those who live, study, visit and work in and around Oxford.

Star Light, Star Bright maps the 7 star constellations that are visible above Oxford in January and February. With each star represented as individual, step activated lights, people work together to turn on a whole constellation. The constellations will be in 7 locations across the city. Star Light, Star Bright will bring life to dark winter streets, connecting strangers for a shared moment of discovery and wonder by creating colourful star maps for Oxford’s night sky. Help us find the starlight, shining bright.

Launched to the public on the 19th January 2018, Star Light Star Bright will run for 6 weeks.

Read more here

Supported by

Lucy Group
Oxford Bus Company
Oxford Brookes University
University of Oxford
Science Oxford
Oxford City Council
Oxfordshire County Council

#StartedinOxford Zipabout is giving its transport platform away for free

By: Alex Froom, Zipabout

We had a great day at Low Carbon Britain yesterday and we’ve been overwhelmed by the support we have received for releasing a free version of our platform for Local Authorities.

Understandably it has also been met by a certain amount of suspicion! The first question people ask is “Is it really free?” and the second is “What’s in it for you?”, so I thought I’d try and explain.

Is it really free?

Easy – yes! We will grant a free licence to any local authority (in the UK initially) who wants to use the Zipabout Transport Graph in any form. This will be available through the Amazon Web Services marketplace and through the AWS Public Sector Team, so there may be minor AWS fees, but we will not charge for a licence to use the platform unless you commercialise it to directly generate revenue. We won’t fly around the country to pitch it to you or attend multiple meetings at your premises at our expense either – the downside of free is that we can’t afford to – but you’re very welcome to come and see us in Oxford any time. There’s a lot of good tea and cake here and it’s a must for anyone who likes Sunday evening detectives or minor wizards.

What’s in it for us?

This is also pretty clear from our point of view. Our core business is the personalisation and optimisation of transport networks and we have a business model that already supports our more advanced platform (shameless plug: if you’d like to receive our whitepaper on personalisation in transport drop us a line here). We work with some brilliant clients in European transport and this is our commercial focus – enabling them to deliver MaaS, Intelligent Mobility and personalised transport globally around the needs of their users. This requires complex integration and custom development, and that’s where our business lies, but for these schemes to work properly they need to be aligned to the region they serve – and that’s where we have seen the disconnect.

We came into transport from the digital sector. Back in 2001 it wasn’t called Big Data, it was just Really Expensive Data. It wasn’t in the cloud (somebody else’s computers) it was in data centres (your own computers). Coming from a world that could process huge volumes of live unstructured data in the early 2000s it was a surprise to find just how far behind the digital curve the transport sector was.

There are many theories and reasons about what is holding the sector back, and this is not the time to address them (Engineering culture! Procurement! Frameworks! Innovation via competition! Hackathons!) but the thing that really stood out was where all the money was going. Most of the time it didn’t look like very good value for money to us. Sometimes we thought people were winding us up when they told us how much they were spending on digital services or transport data! Often, millions were spent on projects that failed not because they were particularly difficult but because they were being built by the wrong companies.

The pattern was always the same – consultancies charging hundreds of thousands of pounds to provide generic data from dated systems (post code / tally surveys anyone?), IT firms charging thousands to host and serve that data, digital agencies unable to generate ROI from data, companies charging for access to their own client’s open data… Worst of all was the millions of pounds being spent on reinventing the wheel (often making it square in the process) – all being funded by a public sector under pressure to deliver tomorrow’s Smart Cities, clean air and transport visions with limited budgets and technology capabilities.

There are better things to be spending money on – data isn’t the hard bit anymore.

We see our Local Authority product as a natural by-product of our core business (we’re already processing most of the data for different reasons), but we also think it’s a bit better than most of the alternatives – it still amazes us how many ‘experts’ are still talking about structured, relational data for example, or are completely unable to process the huge volumes of real-time data that meaningful analysis requires (I’ve included some anonymous quotes below to give you a feel of where we’re coming from!). We don’t want to make money from consultancy, as easy as that is in this space – we want to enable UK innovation, not suck budget from it.

The UK is not as far ahead as it thinks in this sector. You don’t have to travel far around Europe, let alone the rest of the world, to realise that some of the things that are seen as exciting and disruptive here have been commonplace elsewhere for some time. Maybe it will lead to commercial projects for us, maybe it won’t, but either way the additional costs are negligible so it’s worth the investment to see where it leads. Every partner we work with helps make the product better, which in itself is a huge benefit to us – hopefully it can also help level the playing field for others as we go.

Get involved

If it sounds interesting, have a look at our product sheet and get in touch. There are some useful tools, like a real multi-modal journey planner (You can now park at the station! Wooo!) that understands live and predictive performance, CAVs and private non-scheduled services (e.g. DRT). There’s an unlimited data-depository that will support any format you throw at it. National transport data (rail, bus et al) and communication tools. Nothing revolutionary but still streets ahead of a lot of offerings.

Best of all, ours gathers data for you (not google)

Right now the platform has been commercially deployed since 2013 and already has around 5 years of national transport, operational, conditional and social data in it, but we’re building new self-service interfaces so you will be able to crack on without hindrance. It’s a learning curve so input from potential partners is welcome – we have some great partners already, like Oxfordshire County Council, but we welcome contact from any proactive organisations who want to make a difference.

If you’d like to find out more, or help shape the analytics tools we are designing, come and see us for a chat – but please don’t be offended if we don’t come and see you or give you the hard sell.

This article first appeared on the Linkedin website on 9th Novermber 2017


Oxford named as one of Britain’s smartest cities

By: Huawei

Latest Huawei UK Smart Cities Index tracks countrywide progress in 20 locations

 London, UK, 23rd October 2017: Oxford is one of Britain’s top “smart cities”, according to the second UK Smart Cities Index, commissioned by Huawei UK and conducted by Navigant Consulting. The report is based on evaluations of 20 cities and their strategies, key projects and overall readiness in using digital technology to improve crucial civic services from transport infrastructure to healthcare.

Oxford has been ranked in the 11th position across the UK, and is one of 12 “contender” cities, including: Manchester, Aberdeen, Leeds, Milton Keynes, Glasgow, Nottingham, Peterborough, Cambridge, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Newcastle. The overall leader in the report is Bristol, followed by London.

Oxford has a high concentration of multi-million pound science and technology facilities, supporting world-class research in fields like advanced engineering, manufacturing and life sciences. The Smart Oxford initiative is supported by the Oxford Strategic Partnership (OSP), a group of collaborating organisations from across the public sector, academia, business and voluntary and community organisations.

One key initiative is the CASPAR, a project focused on providing real-time information regarding the availability of blue badge parking spaces. This involves the installation of sensors and camera monitoring technology in Oxford and Witney which will provide real-time car parking and EV charging point availability data. It also allows information to be integrated with Oxfordshire County Council’s Urban Traffic Management Control System.

The report also commends Oxford for its governance structure for Smart Oxford that has been purposely arranged to not be led by a single entity. The organisation instead focuses on a united culture of trust and collaboration among partners to develop Oxford as a shared city that is inclusive of all communities.

Sir Andrew Cahn, Huawei UK Board, said: “The successful cities of the future are going to be smart cities. It’s clear from this report that cities across the UK have made considerable progress over the last year, developing and implementing strategies to improve the delivery of public services and the urban environment. The scale of progress throughout the country is represented by a doubling in the number of cities included in this year’s ranking index compared to 2016. While Bristol and London are named as “leaders”, other cities have entered the index with exciting smart initiatives, such as Newcastle’s, City Futures programme and Cambridge’s, Smart Cambridge intelligent City Platform (iCP).”

Councillor Bob Price, Leader of Oxford City Council said: “This is evidence of the great progress that we are making in the Oxford Smart City Partnership to improve the way in which new digital technologies are being applied to support improvements in transport, health and the environment. The City has ambitious plans for the future that will support the improvement of services to our residents and support the growth and creation of new high value jobs. The Partnership involves close collaboration between the City and County Councils, the University of Oxford, and the private sector under the aegis of the Oxford Strategic Partnership. It aims to drive forward the smart cities programme to transform Oxford into a connected and inclusive city and to be a key technology hub in Europe.”

Eric Woods, research director at Navigant Consulting, who led the study, said: “UK cities are demonstrating an impressive commitment to service and technology innovation. They are now embedding smart city ideas into city planning and operations. They are also preparing for the impact of the next wave of technologies, including 5G, autonomous vehicles, and machine learning. The growing contribution that local universities are making to these programmes further emphasises the importance of advanced technologies to the future of UK cities.”


Fleet of autonomous vehicles takes to the streets of Oxford

By: Smart Oxford

The DRIVEN consortium is an ambitious project that will see a fleet of fully autonomous vehicles being deployed in urban areas and on motorways from London to Oxford.  These vehicles will have the capability of performing all safety-critical driving functions and monitoring roadway conditions for an entire trip, with zero-passenger occupancy.

Take a look at autonomous driving in the real world – pedestrians, cyclists, traffic, buses, unusual manoeuvres – you name it, they’ve  done it! 


Oxford-centred consortium unveils first self-driving vehicles

By: Oxbotica

Today (Tuesday 5th September 2017) the DRIVEN consortium unveils the first three of its proposed fleet of six self-driving vehicles, a white and blue 2014 Ford Fusion Titanium hybrid, a 2017 Ford Mondeo hybrid and a Range Rover Evoque. The Range Rover Evoque will be on display to the media for two days at the Cenex Low Carbon Vehicle (LCV) Event 2017 in Millbrook, Bedfordshire from the 6th September 2017.

Speaking on the significance of the occasion, DRIVEN project director and Oxbotica CEO Graeme Smith said: “We’re hugely excited to be unveiling the cars we’ll be using to run our autonomous driving trials in our special DRIVEN livery. While local residents around our Oxford office will have had a few sneak previews of our first vehicle, now everyone can see our Land Rover Evoque, Ford Mondeo and Ford Fusion as they will appear early next year in self-driving mode on public roads around Oxford and then along the Oxford to London corridor.”

Also commenting, Steve Gooding, Director of the RAC Foundation said: “Testing the technology that enables autonomous driving is clearly an important part of the development process.

“High visibility branding of the test vehicles is a good thing, as they move from extensive off-road trials to streets where they’ll be mixing with everyday traffic, so that we know not to panic when we see one approaching with no-one holding the steering wheel.

“Possibly the most important thing about these trials is not the development of the technology as such but the building of our confidence in how it works, because that will be key to public acceptance of driverless vehicles both as road users and in time as potential passengers.”

DRIVEN, which is in receipt of an £8.9 million government grant designed to stimulate the development of new technologies, is an ambitious project that will see a fleet of Level 4 autonomous vehicles being deployed in urban areas and on motorways, culminating in multiple end-to-end journeys between London and Oxford in 2019. By operating at Level 4 autonomy a vehicle has the capability of driving itself most of the time without any human input.

Testing of key manoeuvres with the vehicles – including how to navigate roundabouts, tricky traffic junctions, and interaction with pedestrians, cyclists, and other vehicles – is already taking place at RACE’s AV test facility at Culham Science Centre in Oxfordshire. During testing, fully licensed and specially trained safety drivers, will be in the vehicles at all times, ready and able take over the driving if necessary.

DRIVEN will be organising a public demonstration of its self-driving vehicles on selected roads around Oxford in early 2018.   The next six months will see DRIVEN’s fleet of vehicles increase to four, with urban trials taking place around the streets of Oxford. By Q3 2018, there are plans that the fleet will be six-strong. The wide-area road testing of the fleet is due to start in late-summer 2018 across a range of environments including low-speed urban and higher speed long distance motorway driving.

The vehicles are fitted with a wide variety of technology, including Oxbotica’s Selenium autonomy software, lidar sensors, on board computers, and cameras.  Through its members at Telefonica and Nominet, the DRIVEN consortium is ensuring maximum security of this data to protect drivers and other vehicles from cyber security threats.

A key opportunity for the consortium and one of its members, global re/insurer XL Catlin, and TRL (the UK’s transport research laboratory) is to develop real-time risk assessment systems that enable a better understanding of how to improve overall system performance across a range of real-world conditions.   By 2019, the consortium plans to have developed a ‘Real-Time Risk Register’ that automatically processes a range of data from both the vehicle and external sources that surround it, for example traffic control systems.

Testing of data sharing with insurance systems is due to take place from January 2018 and will enable development of ‘Insurance in the Loop’, under which cover is granted automatically when the vehicle is in autonomous mode. The system has the potential to radically transform how insurance and autonomous vehicles will work together in connected cities. 

This article first appeared on the website of Oxbotica on 4th September 2017.


Oxford rolls out EV charging programme of ‘global scientific signficance’

By: Oxfordshire County Council

Go Low logo

Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council have begun a programme to install approximately 100 electric vehicle charging stations in Oxford’s residential streets to help people go electric.

The trial is thought to be the first on-street charging pilot of its size in the world, and the University of Oxford has described the project as having “global scientific significance”.

It will see six different charging technologies installed – ranging from cable gullies to retrofitting lamp posts with charging stations – with the aim of finding the best solutions for Oxford residents.

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Oxfordshire County Council Leader, said: “We are committed to working with partners to facilitate the transition to a low emission fleet in Oxford and Oxfordshire. This is a great project and a great example of using Oxford as a ‘living lab’ to get new ideas on the ground fast to benefit residents.

“The pilot element of the project is a learning experience – identifying the best charging solutions for different situations and locations and using our assets in better, smarter ways will help minimise costs. We hope to take what we have learnt from this project and look at how we can support on street charging across the whole of Oxfordshire.”

Dr Tim Schwanen, Director of University of Oxford’s Transport Studies Unit, said: “The project has global scientific significance because we know surprisingly little about how electric vehicle users and local communities adapt to new charging infrastructure, especially if this is provided on residential streets where availability of a parking space is not guaranteed.”

Currently, residents who own electric vehicles and have on-street parking in Oxford’s narrow terraced streets struggle to charge their cars.

The first phase of the project will see 30 charging stations installed. Ten of these will be available for the general public, 10 for Co-wheels Car Club vehicles, and the remaining for individual households.

Installation of the charging stations will begin this month (August) and they will be ready for residents and the general public to use in October 2017. The trial will last for 12 months.

The best solutions from the trial will then be rolled out in approximately 100 sites across Oxford’s residential streets. This is expected to happen in 2018.

Oxford City Council chose the locations after calling for Oxford residents who either owned or wanted to own an electric vehicle to come forward. These 20 volunteers will provide feedback on the chargers as part of the trial.

Download app to locate chargers

The network of public chargers will be managed by NewMotion, a Dutch company that brings a wealth of experience from the Netherlands to support the project.

People who wish to use the public chargers can apply to NewMotion for a free charge card and download the NewMotion app for real-time information on where chargers are available.

Co-wheels Car Club plans to introduce 10 new electric cars in Oxford from this autumn, and will use the new charging points to power them. Alongside the project volunteers, Co-Wheels Car Club will also collect feedback on the chargers.

The resident feedback on the charging stations will be collated and analysed by researchers from the University of Oxford’s Transport Studies Unit (TSU). The results will then be fed back to the Government to inform national and local authority investment in charging stations in the future. The findings will also be shared with the global research community through publications in peer-reviewed academic journals.

Renewable energy company Good Energy will provide power to the public chargers from its network of solar, hydro, wind and biofuel generators. This means electric vehicles using the public charging points will be run entirely on renewable energy.

Private chargers will be run from the residents’ own energy supply.

Oxford City Council, which is managing the project, is working in partnership with Oxfordshire County Council on the scheme.

The project, called Go Ultra Low Oxford (GULO), has been made possible after the City Council and County Council secured an £800,000 grant from the Government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).

The Government set up the £40m Go Ultra Low Cities scheme to encourage thousands of people to consider switching to an electric car.

The aim of Go Ultra Low Oxford is to reduce air pollution in the city and further lower the city’s carbon emissions by giving more people the option of driving and owning electric vehicles.

Although work by the City Council and County Council has helped reduce air pollution by an average of 36.9 per cent in the last decade, nitrogen dioxide levels are still above the legal limit in some areas of Oxford.

In July, Oxford City Council joined leaders from cities across England to criticise the Government’s Clean Air Plan, and called for Secretary of State Michael Gove to do more to crack down on polluting vehicles.

Air pollution is estimated to cause 40,000 deaths a year in the UK, according to a report from the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Councillor John Tanner, City Council Executive Board Member for a Clean and Green Oxford, said: “I’m thrilled that Oxford City Council is leading the delivery of the Go Ultra Low Oxford Project with Oxfordshire County Council.

“This Government-funded project is tackling a real issue for many Oxford residents who would like to drive electric, but can’t have a charger at home because they have no driveway.

“By 2027 more people could be buying electric cars than petrol or diesel, and our project will help us prepare for this future.”

Richard Falconer, Managing Director of Co-wheels Car Club, said: “There is a lot of interest from our Oxford members to have more electric vehicles on our fleet so this project is a brilliant opportunity.

“Many Co-wheels members don’t want to add another car to our busy roads and would rather use a shared vehicle when they really need one, now they have the option to reduce the impact on our environment even more by using a zero emission car.”


This article first appeared on the website of Oxfordshire County Council on 29th August 2017.


Innovative Oxford : the Shared City

experimenting | engaging | expanding | empowering

Oxford: where anyone can bring an idea to life

people at a workshop

The fastest growing city in the UK, home to the the most prolific University innovator in Europe and top of the World University Rankings for two years running, Oxford and its surrounding area are a vibrant centre of innovation.

Our city hosts to over 5,000 businesses and 130,000 jobs, as well as two world class universities which, with leading research organisations in Oxfordshire, and training over 45,000 students a year.

One of the UK’s leading hotspots for Social Enterprise, with a diverse ecosystem of startups, innovation programmes, and research, Oxford and its environs represent a unique test-bed for city innovation that can be shared with the broader world.

As well as providing a range of innovation and learning spaces, as the Shared City, we strive to connect people, spaces, information and ideas.

  One of Europe’s most innovative cities

In 2016 and 2017 we bid for the title of European Capital of Innovation.

The pages below list the activities and groups that went in to our bids, and helped to shortlist us as one of the most innovative cities in Europe

We reviewed how we address our societal challenges and encourage local innovation by:

  • Experimenting with new concepts, processes, tools, and models
  • Engaging citizens in the innovation process
  • Expanding the city as a role model for others
  • Empowering the local ecosystem through innovation

  A people-centred approach

community energy banner

As the Shared City, we strive to seek input and proposals from the broader community on how to develop and scale up activity related to our innovation themes, including:

  • supporting our innovators by growing our rich mosaic of innovation spaces and networks;
  • extending access to social enterprise, social innovation and the local community;
  • inspiring and attracting a new generation of science and technology talent and businesses;
  • mainstreaming ultra-low carbon technology;
  • pioneering smart city and healthcare solutions by embedding innovations in the ecosystem.

As we continue to expand and evolve our Innovation Strategy to engage and energise even more people, we’re opening our institutions to everyone who wants to learn, alongside us, to create connected and accessible cities of innovation right across Europe.

We are the Shared City, where anyone can bring an idea to life.