A Day in the Life of Carl Pittam of VivaCity

In this series, we aim to feature a particular individual ITS UK Member who will talk through what they do for their company and detail their daily work schedule, whilst also offering some advice and reflection on their career thus far. In this edition, read more about Carl Pittam of VivaCity. Discover how he got started within VivaCity, how he got started in this career, what his daily routine is like, what motivates him and specific advice he offers to those looking to start a career in the industry.

What is your current role?

I’m the Commercial Manager for Smart Signal Control at VivaCity. I’m responsible for rolling out our AI-powered signaling products across the UK.

Tell us about yourself, your background and how you got started in the industry?

Prior to my current role at VivaCity,  I was Development Director at Ubeeqo UK, a Europcar-owned mobility start-up; an Associate at Steer, a transport management consultancy; and the England Director at Sustrans.

Career highlights include delivering infrastructure and behaviour change projects to encourage more walking and cycling, helping clients transition to electric vehicles and using new and emerging technologies to enable better people-centred decisions to be made about how our communities are shaped.

I was named as one of the Evening Standard’s 1,000 Most Influential Londoners and was awarded the London 2012 Sustainability Ambassador Award by LOCOG (London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games) for my work developing walking and cycling infrastructure across London for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Outside work, I spend my time walking (with our dog) and sailing; pastimes that involve the two oldest forms of sustainable transport!

What brought you to VivaCity and led you to make this career choice?

I’m passionate about improving the places where we live, work and play, reducing car use to tackle poor air quality and climate change, and simply making our communities more liveable. VivaCity’s mission of ‘Helping cities to overcome their biggest transport challenges’ really resonates with my own ambitions.

As a parent I’m all too aware of the anxiety that young people feel about the future of our planet, and the feeling that older generations are still not acting fast enough. This sense of urgency gives me hope that we can move to a more sustainable way of life, with carbon-free ways of travelling being central to a sustainable future. With more and more people living in cities, there’s an imperative to make the most efficient use of our urban transport networks, which motivates me in my current role at VivaCity. We simply can’t build our way out of congestion.

Take us through a typical day and what that involves. What projects are you working on? What are your current priorities?

A typical day involves online meetings and calls with councils so I can gain a really thorough understanding of the network management problems they face, and how we can help them to solve those problems. 

My top priorities at the moment are introducing new and existing customers to our latest signal control product, Smart Signal Control: AI for Detection, ensuring that existing signal control projects are running smoothly, and helping new projects get off the ground.

This product is really innovative in terms of signal control management, in my opinion. To put it into perspective, VivaCity has already been commissioned to provide the AI for Detection solution at over 25 locations in Leeds, Glasgow and Sheffield. The product integrates VivaCity’s rich, real-time data into existing UTC systems to enhance the performance of existing signal control systems and beat congestion. Compatible with Yunex, Swarco and Telent signal controllers, AI for Detection is an excellent multimodal alternative to induction loops, with reduced maintenance liability and maximised responsiveness.

What do you most enjoy about your role and what do you find the most challenging?

My favourite thing about my role is that I get the opportunity to work with innovative councils and help them achieve their transport goals with the use of ground-breaking technology. The technology itself is extremely interesting, but ultimately it’s the huge improvements to air quality, congestion and quality of life that it can bring to towns and cities that is the most rewarding thing.

As with all new technologies, there are hurdles to overcome in the early days, which can be challenging, but of course this makes the product stronger and able to deliver even greater benefits – so it’s a challenge well worth taking on!

What advice would you give someone who is considering seeking a career in this role and within this industry?

I’d say, follow your passion. If you want to make a tangible difference to your local area in terms of mobility and air quality, and globally in terms of carbon emissions, then working in the transport sector can be very rewarding. Plus there are some really exciting technologies emerging that will make it possible to accelerate the changes we need to see.

Finally, what do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started out your career?

When starting out I wish I’d had a better understanding of the many different priorities local authorities have to deal with, and how difficult it is for them to manage competing priorities. I’m now much better placed to provide the right support and to help council teams not only to achieve their objectives, but also to understand what they might need in the future so we can evolve our technology further.