TRANSPORT managers will have an eye in the sky to help them beat traffic jams thanks to a new Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) drone team.
The drones will fly over congestion hotspots and traffic queues at accident scenes or road closures and send live footage to transport managers enabling them to better plan diversions and keep the public informed.
TfWM’s state-of-the-art Regional Transport Coordination Centre (RTCC) brings together a wide range of transport authorities, agencies and operators to work together on keeping the region moving during major events and incidents.
It played a crucial role in successfully moving millions of people around during the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The RTCC and Safer Travel Command Centre, based in Birmingham, receives images from more than 2,500 fixed CCTV cameras covering the West Midlands major road, rail and tram networks, as well as some town and city centres.
But there are gaps in the coverage, meaning they are unable to view traffic building up around some incidents.
Now, thanks to the new drone team, live images can be relayed back to the command centre filling those gaps in coverage, at a fraction of the cost of installing and maintaining static CCTV cameras.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA Chair, said: “Since it was launched three years ago, our Regional Transport Coordination Centre has been at the forefront of innovation in transport management – playing a major role in the success of last summer’s spectacular Commonwealth Games.
“Now we’re building on the existing provision of hundreds of CCTV cameras covering our road, rail and tram networks by bringing drone technology into our repertoire to further improve coverage.
“Having a wider aerial view of various scenarios that can be beamed back to the RTCC will enable our traffic managers to make better and faster decisions about how best to deal with incidents – enhancing the travel experience for local people right across our region.”
The drone team has already deployed to key locations across the region including Birmingham, Coventry, Walsall and Sandwell to identify issues on the road network.