With the number of vehicles on our roads continuing to increase, tackling congestion – particularly in urban areas – remains a major challenge for local administrations. ITS Equant, a Demonstration Project managed by a consortium led by Valerann with Excelerate Technology and co-funded by the European Space Agency (ESA)’s Business Applications and Space Solutions programme, is bringing a new generation of cost-effective satellite-enabled Advanced Traffic Management Systems (ATMS) to market to do just that.
The ITS Equant project combines Excelerate Technology’s proprietary satellite communications-enabled CCTV cameras with Lanternn by Valerann™ (LbV), a powerful AI-driven real-time traffic analytics platform. LbV enhances floating car data – speed and geo-localisation data collected directly by moving vehicles and date-stamped - with additional datasets (including critically important satellite-derived positioning data) taken from social media, mobile apps, and legacy sensors.
Traditional ATMS deployment can cost as much as £100,000 per kilometre, putting it far beyond the reach of smaller local authorities and road operators. With ITS Equant, Valerann and Excelerate Technology are making world-class road safety technology available to previously inaccessible markets.
One of the largest projects undertaken was in the form of an innovative traffic management solution developed together with Milton Keynes Council (MKC). This space-enabled solution empowered MKC to manage local road traffic surrounding the Milton Keynes Stadium efficiently for the duration of the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 event.
The scale of the challenge for MKC was daunting. With more than half a million visitors expected to descend on the town via a rural network of previously unmonitored winding B-roads with blind corners in need of maintenance; safety was paramount. MKC needed a solution which would keep traffic flowing, reduce bottlenecks, and keep engineering personnel and the visitors safe and happy.
By deploying the ITS Equant technology, MKC were able to keep the many thousands of drivers using these small country lanes moving. Drivers were able to avoid the frustration of long traffic jams and the uncertainty of unpredictable oncoming traffic. They also benefitted from real-time instructions and warnings delivered by Variable Message Signs stationed strategically along the B-roads. Traffic was diverted immediately when accidents occurred, reducing the severity of the incidents, and keeping those involved – including emergency services personnel – safe.
Whilst the project delivered exactly what it set out to do – a vastly improved traffic flow at a major event – the impact of the technology went much further. Avoiding traffic build up meant that crowds could easily be managed and dispersed and consequently the overall security at the venue was improved. Free-flowing traffic also meant that there was no high build-up of CO2 emissions from static traffic, keeping the event in line with UEFA’s sustainability drive to reduce carbon emissions.
“Valerann and Excelerate have successfully showcased the impact of satellite technology in unison with AI on the mobility sector. In validating their system at a major event during the ITS Equant project, it is clear that its value will in future extend far beyond Milton Keynes in creating safer, less congested and greener roads for us all.” said Christopher Frost-Tesfaye, Technical Officer at ESA Space Solutions.
MKC are certainly convinced of the value of this technology. “This is really exciting, showing the way forward in managing our transport networks,” said Brian Matthews, Head of Transport Innovation at MKC. “We especially want to see how we can make our roads safer and to help manage congestion so that we see a positive difference in our local environment. Well done to all our partners in making this a reality.”
"The ESA programme was a cornerstone in developing some of Valerann's most compelling USP's.”- says Michael Vardi, CBO and co-founder of Valerann. “The work we did in the ITS Equant project has enabled us to serve road operators globally and enter new markets such as South America and the USA".
With ATMS deployments typically resulting in a 20% reduction in congestion and a 35% reduction in accidents, the ITS Equant project is a cost-effective solution to bolster road safety and protect the drivers, patrols, and emergency services that use our roads, wherever they may be.
The project with ESA didn’t only have a positive impact on drivers’ and road safety during the UEFA tournament. This successful deployment has also helped to raise Valerann’s profile and supported further company growth. Valerann has now raised $25M in funding, more than doubled their staff in the UK and secured customers across Europe, South and Central America and the US, with plans for further deployments in the future.