DfT told to establish a national data catalogue


The Department for Transport (DfT) should develop and maintain a publicly available national transport data catalogue and address the issue of standards for big data, a new government-commissioned report says.

The report by consultants Ricardo Energy & Environment, seeks to provide the DfT with a better understanding of ‘the potential opportunities, challenges, enablers, data needs and the possible business models to support big data applications in a Smart Cities context’.


Two key recommendations in the report are that the DfT should:

  • address uncertainties and potential gaps in standards for big data, IoT and open architectures. This will help remove perceived barriers and facilitate big data availability and the connectivity of public and other open/shared big datasets; and
  • ensure the development and maintenance of a publically (sic) available national transport data catalogue, and facilitate the standardisation of open architectures for public datasets. This will facilitate the improving of data connectivity, which is considered crucial to the development of intelligent mobility services and obtaining the most important potential benefits more broadly across the UK.

It notes that in the transport sector – and particularly in cities – use of big data has major potential but that despite this, ‘the level of big data exploitation in transport is at a much lower level of maturity compared to other sectors such as retail and healthcare’.

It argues that ‘to deliver a step-change in this area, a sustained multi-year work programme is required, including further research into valuing the transport benefits and the scope for greater standardisation’.

However, it concludes: ‘Ultimately, the benefits will only be fully realised through a collaborative and multi-modal approach involving industry, academia, central and local government.’

The report defines big data as ‘both large volumes of data with high levels of complexity and the analytical methods applied [to] such data which require advanced techniques and technologies in order to derive meaningful information and insights in real-time’.

The report is entitled ‘Scoping Study into Deriving Transport Benefits from Big Data and the Internet of Things in Smart Cities’.


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