Cambridge’s Alchera Technologies & Gateshead’s Wordnerds make citizen’s voices heard with cutting-edge AI project

  • Alchera Technologies (Cambridge, UK) & Wordnerds (Gateshead, UK) have successfully delivered an Innovate UK funded project to combine quantitative and qualitative data to better inform on transport network decisions.
  • The project successfully demonstrated fusion of disparate datasets to monitor and evaluate the performance of QuickWays schemes in Oxfordshire, which are strategic investment corridors for cyclists. The outputs monitored and evaluated the changing usage and public perception of these routes.

Cambridge & Gateshead, UK — 08 April 2024: 

Alchera Technologies and Wordnerds today announce successful delivery on an Innovate UK funded grant, targeting collaboration among the UKs thriving AI community. The project saw both parties developing a joint proof of concept demonstrator, showing how quantitative and qualitative transport data can be fused to better balance public sentiment with traditional count-based data.

The study was based on assessing Oxfordshire County Council’s ‘QuickWays’ schemes – cycle routes linking key destinations via main routes, providing a faster direct route into the city centre.

Alchera’s Data Hub is already deployed in the region and collects cycle count data, in addition to the movement of other traffic and pedestrians. The AI-driven software enables reporting on key metrics that support the performance of the region’s road networks, as well as monitoring and evaluating the impact of improvement schemes.

Local Authorities are keen to understand public sentiment towards proposed schemes, typically conducted via surveys, however true opinion is hard to gauge as freeform text has to be manually reviewed, with the potential for unconscious bias to adversely influence results. Collaborating with Wordnerds, who use AI to interpret these survey results, in addition to pulling relevant data from social media for further analysis perspective, the project was able to demonstrate that quantitative and qualitative data could be effectively combined in a seamless way, lowering the barriers to truly understanding the impact of transport schemes.

The feasibility study is readily transferable into any mobility scheme evaluation, such as addressing LTNs (Low Traffic Neighborhoods), traffic priority & bus improvements. The outcomes provide authorities with better intelligence to make data-driven decisions, providing cost savings through reducing labour for analysis, and better prioritisation of public spend through gaining ‘big picture’ visibility of the requirements and sentiment of local citizens.

Matt Pick, Business Development Lead at Alchera, commented: 

“Our Local Authority customers tell us that they need to incorporate public opinion into their decision making, but have limited means of achieving this. By delivering this proof of concept with Wordnerds, we have made it possible for mobility decisions to be made with the full picture that only a combination of quantitative and qualitative data can provide.”

Steve Erdal, Chief Science Officer at Wordnerds, commented:

“This project has given Alchera and Wordnerds an opportunity to do something very special together, bringing together cutting edge artificial intelligence in both qualitative and quantitative analysis to create far more value than the sum of its parts. Alchera are also a wonderful group of people, and we’ve had a great time developing this unique product.”