Towards clean air – carrot or stick?

Siemens Mobility reviews a number of traffic technology approaches.

In the UK, air pollution is one of the most significant environmental risks to human health and many cities are now either implementing or actively exploring intelligent solutions to help meet their air quality targets.

As part of an integrated traffic management and control programme, these solutions can be tailored to provide different combinations of ‘carrot and stick’ to reflect each city’s requirements, as well as their approach to improving air quality.

In London for example, the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) which was introduced in 2019, means that most vehicles must either meet tight exhaust emission standards, or pay a daily charge to travel within the zone.

Siemens Mobility software is at the heart of ULEZ, integrating with the existing roadside sensors and ANPR cameras which form part of Transport for London’s established congestion charging scheme. From October 2021 the area will be expanded to include the whole of inner London, bounded by the city’s North and South circular roads, with the class-leading Siemens Mobility Sicore II ANPR camera used to enforce the larger zone.

The Mayor of London’s office has recently highlighted the impact ULEZ has already made, reporting 13,500 fewer older, more polluting, non-compliant vehicles detected in the zone and a subsequent reduction in roadside concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) of 36%.

Siemens Mobility is also now installing Clean Air Zone (CAZ) solutions in a number of UK cities, helping reduce air pollution by encouraging vehicle owners to transition to cleaner, less-polluting vehicles. The company’s intelligent vehicle recognition and analysis software means that charging can be set to apply to specific groups of vehicles, so for example only the worst polluting such as heavy goods vehicles, buses, and taxis would be subject to a charge.

The company has also worked with authorities to introduce schemes that positively encourage the use of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs). For example, it has developed enforcement solutions that allow ULEVs to freely use bus lanes, using ANPR technology to enforce the scheme and so provide real journey time savings to drivers.  

In London, the iconic, diesel-powered black cabs are being phased out and replaced with all-new electric versions. With around 9,000 electric cabs planned to be on the city’s roads by 2020, Siemens Mobility is supporting and enabling this significant change through the provision of the necessary electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Wilke Reints, managing director of Intelligent Traffic Systems for Siemens Mobility in the UK, said: ‘We have the capability and operational flexibility, using our manufacturing facility in Poole, to meet the demand for clean air solutions. They play a vital role in not only improving air quality, but also changing driver behaviour. Our solutions help authorities manage traffic efficiently, delivering an enhanced environment for both road users and residents alike. In many cities, we are also supporting the increasing use of EVs by providing reliable, rapid chargers. All of these solutions contribute to a more efficient transport network and a cleaner, healthier and more attractive environment.’ In the longer term, as emission levels are lowered in line with targets, a balanced approach to traffic management and control is likely to be the most successful, using technology to improve traffic flow, with the addition of enforcement measures to help target the most polluting vehicles and provide a financial motivation to encourage behavioural change.

To learn more about Siemens Mobility contact Stephen O’Sullivan:

+44 7921 701146



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4 years ago

Interesting post, Thanks for sharing.

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