Data-Driven Highways with Emu Analytics

Data-Driven Highways with Emu Analytics

In November Emu Analytics dived into the multifaceted industry of roads at the Highways UK event in Birmingham, an exhibition renowned for its thought leadership in UK road infrastructure. The exhibitors and attendees ranged from consultancies, construction, development and civil engineering companies, local authorities and telecoms through to intelligent infrastructure OEMs, who all shared their solutions to the industry’s biggest challenges for customer satisfaction, digital transformation and the environment.

One of the discussed solutions centered around the incorporation of digital data into the transport strategy in order to set the ground work for automated mobility, in order to improve urban planning and connectivity across the country, employ environmentally sustainable technologies, as well as to make roads safer and more efficient by reducing congestions.

As part of the Beyond 2020 session, Alistair McMahon form the O2 Motion Lab spoke about how his team is aiming to understand passenger experience by examining anonymised mobile network data in order to derive location insight on factors such as connectivity. He emphasised the value of digital data and data infrastructure as a resource to analyse and account for what prevents and facilitates mobility in order to move forward in the transport strategy. Many of the UK Mobile Operators, including O2, Vodafone and EE(BT) now regularly provide data insights into the strategic decisioning process required for highways planning and operations.

Previously it has been a challenge to collect and identify all elements to understand why certain places and infrastructures work well for people and the environments and why others don’t. Often this requires multiple and large data sets, from various sources, to be brought together, providing insight and context to infrastructure challenges. By interrogating vast complex location datasets through suitable software, you can address questions such as the following: How equitable are transport links? What developments generate what transport activity? What is the relationship between transport and housing? Where do we need to start to solve the fragmentation of our city? What do the travel patterns tells us about people’s preference of travel?

To illustrate how such data may be used in innovative ways, PA Consulting, Hghways England and O2 partnered up to launch a Hackathon as part of Highways UK.

They invited a number of organisations and businesses, whose representatives were formed into teams. The task was to extract insight from data provided by O2 that would be of relevance and interest for road clients, and combine it with relevant open data assets, to demonstrate relevant insights for the highways industry.

Emu Analytics, Costain, Balfour Beatty and the University of Liverpool teamed up as Team Delta bringing data analytics and visualisation, data science, data insights and digital transformation prospects to the table. Team Delta investigated the data according to three current areas of concern in the transport industry: safety through preventing accidents, understanding and enhancing connectivity as well as the environment.

Alongside the O2 data, Team Delta included data sets ranging from Defra’s air pollution data sets, MET office data, transport and road statistics, TomTom data, car ownership, house prices to demographics such population density. By utilising Emu’s software, the Flo.w platform, Team Delta could anaylse and visualise the complexity of travelling patterns across the UK in real-time to derive valuable insights.


In regard to safety Team Delta could identify the likelihood of fatal traffic accidents with Westminster being by far the highest one across the country. The patterns that became apparent through the visualisation of the data facilitated the predictions of accidents. The inclusion of average speed data would have further strengthened the analysis.


Looking at the data from a connectivity point of view offered important information on high travel pattern and permitted to make recommendations for improving the UK’s mobility network. The data analysis confirmed that people tend to use railways over cars on longer journeys, particularly when there is access to high speed rail roads. With these insights it enables the industry to work together and to draw connections between rail and road in order to create the best outcomes for customers. It was noted that these insights suggest that the case for HS2 would contribute to the reduction of motorway congestion.


Lastly, by looking at the “who, where and how’s” of air pollution to produce insights into care us for environmental purposes and to understand how to facilitate the transition to electrical vehicles and other sustainable forms of mobility. The data suggested that cars in more affluent areas with an older population tend to be used more frequently consequently adding to air pollution. The data of less affluent areas with a younger demographic and bad air quality showcased a higher use of public transport due to station density. These insights enable the transport industry to tackle environmental challenges in a more informed manner to initiate the transformation to a carbon free future.

The Hackathon showcased that the capacity to validate assumptions through location data insight is as powerful as it is essential to improve decision-making as well as deliver better performances. Through the data-driven approach of our two platforms Location Insight Explorer and Flo.w, Emu Analytics is helping to drive our mobility the greener and more customer friendly future. If you would like to find out more about our services and products please get in touch or have a browse through our page.

highways, roads, hackathon, costain, balfour beatty, O2, PA Consulting, / by