Tim Mortlock, Patient Transport Service Ambulance Care Assistant, is pictured driving one of the vehicles fitted with the Compass 4D system

Green technology trialled by NEAS

Patient Transport Service vehicles 'talking' to city traffic lights

New technology which allows traffic lights to talk directly to motorists to inform the way we drive is being trialled by North East Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

NEAS has been working with Newcastle University, Newcastle City Council and Siemens to trial the Compass 4D system, which aims to improve safety and reduce congestion and pollution by helping motorists to drive more efficiently.

In the first pilot of its kind in the UK, the system has been fitted to 14 Patient Transport Service (PTS) vehicles working around the Freeman Hospital and 21 traffic signals have been equipped with the technology on key junctions around the city.

The system helps drivers adjust their speed so they can pass through a series of lights on green, for example advising the driver that if they travel at 24 miles an hour they will hit the next four sets of traffic lights on green.

It also gives the PTS vehicles priority at lights where it is appropriate to do so.

NEAS was keen to take part in the pilot to see if the technology could create a smoother journey for patients while helping to cut the trust’s fuel bill at the same time.

Paul Liversidge, NEAS Chief Operating Officer, said: “As the region’s only public sector ambulance service, improving the experience people have on board our vehicles is at the heart of what we do.

“Trialling technology like this in a real setting gives a more valuable understanding of how it could add more value to ambulance services throughout the UK.

“Ambulance services across the country already employ a range of advanced GPS technology to help guide us through traffic and this has the potential to further improve how efficiently we run the service, ensuring we get to our patients on time and they get to their appointments on time and reducing our carbon footprint.”

Phil Blythe, Newcastle University’s Professor of Transport, said: “Traffic management systems are already in place across the city to improve traffic flow but what’s unique about this trial is that we will be giving personalised information directly to the driver.

“These are exciting times in the world of transport and here in Newcastle we are leading the way - taking the first step towards a fully automated system with driverless cars and intelligent infrastructure.”

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Copyright 2011 North East Ambulance Service Trust

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