From sofa to street: digital supports active travel

New technologies have the potential to transform walking, biking and running, they just need a kick-start

According to the NHS, UK adults spend around 9 hours a day sitting down*. For many, this is spent sitting at a desk, looking at a screen. When we think of digital technologies, we typically associate them with lethargy.

There is a burgeoning ecosystem of technology companies in the UK however who see things differently. We recently conducted research for the Department for Transport to explore this space. How can digital and data-driven companies help more people in the UK adopt healthy and active lifestyles in their travel behaviours?

Read our findings below

Promoting and facilitating ‘active travel’ is a key priority for the UK government. Hundreds of millions of pounds are being invested in better infrastructure and the recent appointment of Chris Boardman as the first Active Travel Commissioner for the UK formalises this focus.

What is the role of data and digital in this space? Most immediately there are of course all the consumer-facing companies who provide digital tools and services to encourage activity. Strava has built a community of athletes who share routes and compete to record the fastest times. Go Jauntly** offers an app to help people find nature filled walking routes.

In addition to this however, there is huge potential for sensor and AI technologies to support the better planning and evaluation of active infrastructure. For example, image analytics can be used on video feeds to measure active modes (walking, cycling, running) in real time. This data can identify ‘near miss’ situations to inform where a protected bike lane or other intervention might be needed – rather than waiting for a tragedy to occur. Sensing Feeling*** is an example of a company which is pioneering development in this space.

All this represents an exciting opportunity. There are of course barriers which are slowing down the realisation of this potential, but also tangible interventions available to address them.

Find out more:

Active Travel – Exploring a role for sensors in promoting active travel
File Type: pdfFile size: 7.0MB
Active Travel – How can sensors help to reduce the cost of evaluation for active travel schemes?
File Type: pdfFile size: 5.2MB