The project will use community volunteers drawn from Sustrans membership to test a combination of three locative technologies adapted for mobile phone platforms. Namely Image processing and data matching, GPS and Bluetooth beacons. All technologies are within the capabilities of an emerging generation of mobiles. This proposal exploits all these facts to explore social use and participation with emergent technologies of location sensing. There are three proposed stages to the project: 1 The specification and construction of a pilot website and database. 2 Developing Software for location sensing using the integration of Bluetooth, image recognition and GPS data. 3 Implementing and testing Songlines –a number of downloadable poems commissioned around landmarks on selected routes. Partnerships with Bath University and De Montfort University to support technical development have already been negotiated The project aims to encourage public collaboration in mapping safe urban cycle routes, using local knowledge of conditions, to encourage sustainable transport solutions and to generate a database of specifically commissioned uploadable maps and related audio works, which can be triggered automatically and listened to as the participants are walking or cycling the corresponding routes and which relate to landmarks and histories. Sustrans is involved in commissioning artworks for its cycleways and in encouraging sustainable transport. Both of these goals are served by the proposal and in addition it will fit with a desire on the part of the organisation to explore the use of virtual artworks and collaborative projects. It will also encourage use of new routes and raise awareness of the surroundings to each route and a sense of engagement and knowledge of urban richness and diversity.
Cycling and walking in urban centres in Britain is at a far lower level than in comparable countries across Europe. In autumn 2001, 681,000 people cycled to work in England, 3% of all those in employment. Cycling accounts for 0.6% of the total distance travelled per person per year and about 1.5% of all stages are by bicycle and the The number of stages made by bicycle fell by 26%, from 23 stages per person per year in 1989/1991 to 17 in 1999/2001(DTI Factsheet) The heavy traffic in urban centres is only part of the story. The efforts of local authorities to engage commuters in cycling are are constrained by budgetary and legal impediments, but most of all safety fears discourage cycling. By drawing on local knowledge of routes and conditions this pilot proposal will demonstrate how creative uses of new technologies can encourage mass participation in solving transport problems through their reach and innovation. Cycling is a zero emission form of transport with low environmental impact in terms of support inustries, parking etc. The governments stated 10 year Plan includes a target to triple the number of cycling stages by 2012 per person per year. It can be a major contributor to carbon reduction with the right policies. In Leicester, for example 60 percent of commuting is by car from houses within 2 miles of a city centre in a flat geography. Detailed cycling maps are no longer available for the city and the council has discontinued the printing of any that once existed. This pilot, once established, can be rolled out in every major city in Britain at very low cost. The other benefits to health are obvious and can save carbon emissions through the releasing of National Health resources and fighting over-consumption.
The project is innovative in its use of digital folksonomies and wikis in the creation of databases of local route maps and its delivery of virtual artworks to a mobile audience. It will use positional sensing for a mass audience taking advantage of the roll-out of cutting edge technologies as they become available to the majority. The mobile phone based location-detection features will be used to update positional information. Further tests on the use of Podcasts of route directions could also be uploaded in advance of the journey and to be correlated against positions along the route. Thus it is envisaged that both directional instructions and the commissioned audio works will be delivered as audio streams according to route progress.
It will operate on several levels of use, at the very least making possible the development of a national database of accurate and updatable cycling maps for every city. Sustrans is willing to support the project in the longer term and conversations with their Art Officer Katy Hallett have established a projected staged development , providing funding can be found.
This is clearly a transferable technology with low cost implications, since it will use the internet and existing mobile network connections. In future the establishment of city-wide wimax wifi areas (as in the Nottingham wimax forest pilot) will improve the technological base and eliminate the need for combinatory technologies to deal with shadow areas of transmission. The model could be adopted anywhere in Europe and become a model for collaborative methods of developing local knowledge databases via new technologies.
Sustrans is involved in commissioning artworks for its cycleways and in encouraging sustainable transport. Both of these goals are served by the proposal and in addition it will fit with a desire on the part of the organisation to explore the use of virtual artworks and collaborative projects. It will also encourage use of new routes and raise awareness of the surroundings to each route and a sense of engagement and knowledge of urban richness and diversity. The organisation is already embedded in every city at local level. The use of meber volunteers for this project will cement communal engagement and the resultant artworks will be available to wider local audiences based again on site specific commissions.