3D street mapping project ‘could transform council services’

Corn market Street, Oxford. Pic: Baz Richardson

OXFORD City Council has launched a new street mapping project that it says could transform how it manages services.

A trial taking place over the next few months will see sensors developed by the University of Oxford's Robotics Institute (ORI) attached to one of the council's street cleaning vehilces to create 3D maps of the city centre. The maps could eventually be used to support the development of autonomous vehicles.

Researchers at the ORI will explore what other data could be obtained to help the council and its partners better manage the city. They will look at areas including road and pavement surface damage, air quality, people numbers and movement, litter and fly-tipping, parked vehicles, broken streetlights and signs, and heat loss from buildings.

The council said the information will help it to plan more effectively, while also creating records of unreported issues such as fly-tipping for it to act upon.

Data gathered by the project will also be published on the Oxfordshire Open Data Platform.

If the trial is successful, the mapping tool could be added to the council's entire vehicle fleet.

Sebastian Johnson, vice-chair of the Smart Oxford Board and project manager at Oxford City Council, said: “Oxford is the home to world-leading mobile autonomy and robotics research and development, and the city council and our wider partners on the Smart Oxford Board are keen to support innovation and research to benefit those living in the city.

“Our open data platform will also allow innovators to explore and use the data to create new ideas and applications.”

Professor Paul Newman, professor of information engineering at the University of Oxford, added: “We are really excited to be working in our home city with the city council to map and gather data using one of our NABU sensors on a street sweeper.

“This trial will help us with our own research for autonomous vehicles and will help the council and other partners gather data that can improve the management and maintenance of the city.”