Coventry needs to address a major public health issue caused primarily by poor air quality. With the UK Government committed to introducing Clean Air Zones (CAZ), Coventry wanted to adopt theirs voluntarily and remove emissions from transport.
Electric Blue proposed a project creating a CAZ management platform that permits data visualisation and reporting. As the project would be collecting live vehicle data, commercial models were also developed with recommended pilot deployment costs and user tariffs.
About Coventry City Council
Coventry City Council is the local government body responsible for the governance of the city of Coventry in England.
Coventry City Council is working closely with neighbouring authorities and Government Agencies to address poor air quality. It is one of seven local authorities in the West Midlands working in partnership to improve air quality and reduce emissions from road transport as part of ‘The Low Emissions Towns and Cities Programme’ (LETCP). It is also working closely with DEFRA to determine whether the introduction of a CAZ will be beneficial to air quality.
Coventry is working on several key priorities including:
- Completion of the feasibility study for the introduction of a CAZ following instruction from Central Government.
- Completion of the local plan which includes the commitment to improve air quality.
- Continue to monitor nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations at existing locations using current technology and to introduce new technologies that will give more accurate, real-time measurements.
- Continue to facilitate low emissions vehicles.
- Continue green procurement for the promotion of low emission transport and vehicle fleet efficiency improvements.
A CAZ either charges or restricts access for different vehicles classes: HGVs, buses, LCVs, taxis, private cars; with the first four classes being compulsory in most of the proposed zones. This requires a daily charge for entering the zone, with the only current accepted method of enforcement being ANPR systems. Whilst zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) can be added to ANPR whitelists (and therefore avoid charges), it is not possible to correlate the reduction of emissions from ZEVs to a monetary charge. The cost of implementing and running an ANPR system means that it is difficult to target certain fleets (for example taxis only), but if the scheme is extended to include all vehicle categories listed above, it is highly likely to be politically unpopular, and thus difficult to implement.
Local Authorities are under significant time pressure to ensure compliance with legal obligations on air quality, meaning that any solutions must offer a short implementation timeline, and deliver a positive impact on air quality from the outset.
Based on the requirements outlined above, we propose installing low-cost plug-and-play telematics into the OBD port (On-Board Diagnostics) on vehicles, and creating a geofence around the designated CAZ. The system utilises real-time GPS tracking on the devices to detect ‘breaches’, triggering vehicle mileage and emission tracking. The vehicles can then be charged on a per-mile or emission basis, to create clear incentives for switching to zero-emission alternatives. In order to address idling emissions, the system allocates either a mileage charge for a moving vehicle, or a time-based fee, if the vehicle is stationary with the engine running.
We propose that the model is trialled initially with taxis, whereby the installation of the telematics is part of their conditions of fitness. The use of telematics offers the potential to provide drivers with personalised reports, showing the feasibility of using electric vehicles for their business purposes. This provides the Local Authority with a value added service that will enhance the positive impacts of this solution.
Ultimately the solution can be extended to other vehicles under contract with the Local Authority (vehicles from their supply chain) and those that require licences.
- Low cost to implement
- Simple to update and modify - the virtual geofence can be updated in minutes and the changes communicated digitally.
- Scalable - the solution could be trialled with few devices but all vehicles have OBD ports so could also be fitted to other fleets.
- Multi-purpose - telematics can offer insurance premium reductions, improved service and maintenance, research data on emissions and EV suitability assessment.
- Generates additional funding - funds raised from the CAZ charge could be applied to other projects i.e. the installation of chargers to support EVs.
- Uses existing processes - taxis (Hackney Carriage and Private Hire) are already subject to license requirements e.g. taxi meters, so this would form part of that assessment.
What was achieved?
Electric Blue partnered with telematic specialist - Omnia - and real-world emission analytics firm - Emissions Analytics - to test technology and develop a commercial model to help resolve this issue. This project received funding from Innovate UK under the Infrastructure Systems programme and launched the Phase 1 project in September 2017.
A round table event was held, permitting the project partners to provide feedback to a group of key stakeholders. The event took the format of a guided discussion to understand the different challenges and market conditions that will affect the next stage of the development process.