This Q&A blog was written by Chris Lane, Head of Innovation at Transport for West Midlands, who lead the ConVEx project. ConVEx is part of CAM Testbed UK and is coordinated by Zenzic.

What is the ConVEx project?

ConVEx is the UK project involving the government, academia, private sector and local authority organisations to create a data exchange facility focused on accelerating the development of CAM.

The consortium is led by Transport for West Midlands and includes Jaguar Land Rover, Bosch, Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) and three SMEs: Valerann, Synaptiv, and Immense.

By creating an open platform for the commercial exchange of data, we aim to enhance the development of new mobility products and services. This will improve the benefits from new CAM technologies and improve safety, accessibility and more efficient transport.

What does ConVEx project specialise in?

The primary aim of the ConVEx facility, which is based in the West Midlands and London, is to create an open access marketplace for the secure, simple and sustainable exchange of data.

We will aggregate data from a diverse range of sources which could be already accessible to the public, available under licence or purchased by the facility. Our services will include:

  • The curation of datasets within a single ‘shop window’
  • Data cleansing and analysis
  • Enabling organisations to monetise data resources that may have previously been left dormant
  • Drawing together relevant datasets and exploring connections that generate further insight for clients

Why is data so important in the context of CAM?

By improving the availability of different types of real-time data in the transport sector, innovative service providers will develop second and third generation data-driven services. Examples include green-lighting for public transport vehicles, dynamically variable parking restrictions for freight loading and unloading, as well as speed and pollution management solutions around schools.

The increasing dependency of connected and self-driving vehicles on road signs will raise expectations about data sourcing. A vehicle should not, for example, be fooled by misinterpreting numerals on an advertising hoarding for a speed limit indicator. Future generation roadside assets are likely to use a system of digital identifiers to indicate their function and to authenticate the information they convey.

This evolution is another example of cooperative system-of-systems in the realm of smart roads and connected vehicles. Collaborative ecosystems will be just as important. That is because the best connected and self-driving vehicle technologies will be of limited value if the ecosystem partners involved in delivering CAM services do not have a stake in the adoption. Collaborative ecosystems, systems thinking and data sharing will all determine how well the industry develops and grows. If solution providers fail to design in the context of a system-of-systems, pilot projects will proliferate and the business rationale for connected and self-driving vehicles is likely to be narrow in scope.

A systems approach anticipates linkages between sub-systems and between neighbouring geographical zones. Similarly, manufacturers or service providers might impose boundaries and restrict access to the data their assets generate. In doing so, they will forgo prospects for outside innovation and lose out on the power of combining different data and metadata.

How will ConVEx further the UK’s self-driving revolution?

ConVEx will assist the growth of CAM in the UK by enabling cost effective access to relevant data. We will also encourage inward investment through the creation of a platform that can accelerate CAM research and development for organisations of all sizes.

Additionally, our project will support strategic and regulatory decision making by local, regional and national bodies around the deployment of CAM services. The outputs of data analysis undertaken by us will provide evidence that will enable these organisations to understand if, where and how such services will have a positive impact for their stakeholders, maximising the return on investment of public funds.

Our project is a response to the CAM industry’s recognition that the success of the future of mobility depends heavily on the availability, aggregation and analysis of data. Data sharing is difficult, especially for organisations that do not have the resources or capabilities. The investment will enable the UK to capture the benefits of new transport technologies sooner. It will also help the UK to grow its market share in the research and development for new mobility products and services.

How will ConVEx be collaborating with CAM Testbed UK to achieve its goals?

ConVEx is part of CAM Testbed UK, which offers a unique set of environments and capabilities for the testing and development of CAM technologies. It is the only place worldwide where ideas can be taken from concept to deployment, all within a 3-hour drive. We will therefore compliment the current virtual and physical facilities, progressing the collaborative way of working and interoperability between the entire ecosystem.

What are ConVEx’s objectives for 2020?

We have two main objectives for 2020. The first is to complete the build phase, including the software platform, interface design, security, demonstrations and use cases. The formation of the entity that will be responsible for the second objective, the operational phase, which will provide the commercial exchange of mobility related data.

In simple terms, we will build the trusted platform and then start helping customers buy the data they need from providers who have agreed to sell through ConVEx.

Learn more about ConVEx’s data focused capabilities by watching this short video here.