Whilst igniting creative sparks isn’t what 2020’s best remembered for, tech SME, CGA Simulation, found lockdown acted as a touch paper to creativity. The company is celebrating dual success, after being voted one of Liverpool City Council’s Tech Climbers 2021, whilst winning government funding (SBRI) to develop a new digital 3D technology that visualises how future transports and city hubs will interact.
‘Mobility Mapper’ predicts where new transport infrastructure may be needed in cities, as transport provision changes. The tool also simulates ‘what-if’ scenarios for transport planners – how infrastructure like V2X, Connected & Autonomous Vehicles and cargo bikes will interact with each other, and people.
The Liverpool-based company’s bread and butter is modelling future urban landscapes – smart cities, autonomous vehicles, humans – so this is a well trodden path. The idea’s conception, however, wasn’t as project lead, Max Zadow, explains: “During lockdown 2 (the first dire sequel), CGA attended a week-long future transport conference in Los Angeles (with the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles). It wasn’t in sunny LA as expected, the event was online, so we didn’t know whether it would be as effective as our usual  face-to-face networking.
“In fact, the conference was brilliant and we gained great insights into the world of transport-tech developers and planners in the UK and US. It got us thinking, with so much transport change ahead how could UK cities capitalise on this insight by creating intelligently designed transport hubs and green solutions? Mobility Mapper was born.”
After the conference, CGA picked the brains of both Transport for Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, both of whom `agreed to partner with us in the bid, which we won. Interviews with transport experts, architectural transport planners and digital future-scape consultants during a design sprint, enabled CGA to develop a prototype.
Mobility Mapper harnesses CGAs ‘agent based’ modelling approach, previously used by the team to mathematically model autonomous vehicle tech safety, smart city networks, Liverpool 5G Create’s health and social care network, and even Covid 19 spread. Mobility Mapper is an interoperable tool that can be accessed by people with different technical capabilities.
Agent based modelling assumes each thing (car, human, bicycle) operates independently, creating randomising scenarios, whilst the 3D simulation (developed with CGA’s gaming expertise) creates an immersive visualisation of the predictions.
Planning how a future transport system will work is a significant challenge. Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs), autonomous pods, 5G, cars, bikes, pedestrians, roadside infrastructure and businesses will all be networked to an increasing degree, creating a complex integrated web that somebody somewhere has to plan and then manage. A practical, accessible tool like Mobility Mapper could hold the answer.